6.20.16 was the first time I'd stepped foot into Amsterdam. I was fighting off jet lag, I was a little bit afraid. I was so incredibly excited I almost peed my pants, (literally because you had to pay to use a bathroom and I didn't know that.) But above all else, there was a feeling that I physically couldn't describe. I rounded the corner in a taxi and saw buildings older than the oldest building in America. It was absolutely incredible. There is no picture that could explain the feeling of awe that I felt in that very moment.
Being away from America for the first time at age 20 allowed me to truly appreciate what I was experiencing. I had always resented the fact that it took me that long to leave, but looking back I could not be more satisfied that I was forced to wait. Currently finished with two years of school, I'm able to apply what I've studied to my travels and collect endless amounts of inspiration from every single place I go. Students always come back saying they've found themselves, they've discovered who they are once they leave; I've always been secure in who I was, but I certainly agree that this is a period in my life where I've grown, and will continue to grow as a human being and as an artist.
The first and most prominent thing I've learned about European culture is that people appreciate raw beauty. Okay, how do I define raw beauty?
Raw beauty is a very thin and natural layer of makeup, disheveled hair, simplicity in fashion, functional accessories, and sipping a cup of coffee over the course of an hour to share conversation with their friend. Women are not striving for perfection, instead their attitudes exude fearlessness and confidence. They take care of themselves, nourishing their bodies with healthy foods, and indulging in a glass of wine because of the wonderful taste. I noticed couples young and old who were madly in love- publicly and appropriately displaying their affection in such a remarkable fashion. It was like they were stuck in their own little world where nothing could break their passion for one another.
At the Ruks museum in Amsterdam I not only noted the wisdom in the antiquity of the art, but also the raw beauty of the people spectating. It was as though the commoners, creators, designers, and educators were pealing information off of each painting in a slow and careful manner. They had a surreal appreciation for the visuals around them.
Raw beauty doesn't come down to their different physical appearance, it comes down to how they carry themselves and how they thoroughly observe their surroundings. In America, I feel as though I am more insecure; I'm worried about how my wide hips compare to those of the model I'm fitting, but while wondering the city of Amsterdam those insecurities vanished. The confident women who were of varying shapes and sizes lead me to realize that insecurity masks raw beauty. They also taught me to slow down, enjoy a cup of coffee, smell the flowers, and feel every moment of every day.
Raw beauty is the only phrase that accurately communicates the first sensation I felt when rounding the corner in the taxi. I will store those feelings of confidence and continue keeping eyes fixed on the visual beauty around me as I make my way back to the States in fall.