Words by Erika Ramirez. Photography by Rae Witte.
This is the first day of the year.
I don’t have a New Year’s resolution. I didn’t create a vision board. I don’t hope; I strive to achieve and be much more in the new year. Right now though, I simply want to let be.
Last year, I fought more than I was present. I fought more than I experienced. After I moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, I fought to hold onto a relationship that never was. I fought myself to not believe what was true which was although it was hard–hard to accept, hard to live without–it was right. I arrived and I fought to find a replacement to ease the pain that came with a rippling reality. I fought myself when I’d compare my achievements of 2017 to 2016.
But, I learned closer to the end of year–of course, that’s how it works–that for what was mine, I didn’t have to fight for at all. Ultimately, I didn’t fight to keep close those closest because they wanted to stay as close. I learned closer to the end of the year that the more I chose myself, the less I cared to be chosen by anyone else. I learned that accomplishments don’t come in a size that fits all. I learned that distance, and quiet, offered me space to grow–outward and upward.
I’ve never felt as alone as I did in 2017. I’ve also never felt as lonely as I did in 2017. But, during those moments, when I stopped fighting, I created. I brainstormed. I built. I drank more water. I continued therapy. (It’s not easy to practice feeling, not just dealing. Feeling anger that’s covering the hurt is uncomfortable, but when you find the truth in it, it’s fucking empowering.) I took advantage of my health insurance (which I didn’t have in 2016). I cared for my wellbeing. I advocated. The more of me, the less I hurt. The more of me, the less I fought. I held myself together. I held myself down.
I chose myself, and I let be.
The theme for January is Let Be. The theme for February is Hold, from holding yourself or someone else down, the double meaning of “ride or die,” holding on to a ghost or skeletons, the hold someone has on you (and if that’s good or bad), holding on until it’s time (or its right), holding a love close, etc.
What does Hold mean to you? Feel free to send over submissions and pitches that tie to the February theme to INFO@ILYMAG.COM by January 22, 2018. All ideas (essays, interviews, profiles, photo essays, short films, vignettes, trend reports, analysis, short stories, art) are welcome, especially the unconventional.