exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Self-Awareness

Lauren Yarbrough


Date of Interview: September 9, 2017

Name: Lauren Yarbrough

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

Usually once a day. Sometimes, in the winter, because I shower in the morning, I will skip it if I feel like I smell nice because it’s cold and I’m already unhappy in the winter [laughter].

If you were a mythical creature, which one would it be?

Oh, my gosh. I meant to think so much more about this question [laughter]. I’m going to go with Loch Ness Monster because it has the word monster in it, which I’m a fan of and, also, I just like the idea of people not being sure if you’re there or not [laughter]. Just on the down low out here, lurking. It’s like the Internet [laughter]. 

What are you passionate about?

Oh, my gosh. I feel like this has changed and evolved a lot in the last year or two because I’ve spent the majority of my adult life doing theater and, specifically, stage managing, and production managing, and making people’s projects happen. And I hit 26 and I was like, “You know what, I need to go to sleep at night, so I’m not going to be in rehearsal anymore.” But I guess now it’s more specifically– theater is one way you can encourage people to be creative. And I think I’m still about that but now it’s more open-ended. I want to find a niche to encourage people to just be loud and unapologetic about their shit. Yeah. So I guess making or holding space is what some people will call it because I’ve experienced not feeling like it’s okay to speak up or as if you have anything important to say. And I still feel that way a little bit of the time but I’m also louder and have fewer fucks available to me as I grow older [laughter]. So I’m just like, “Just say no to those people. Tell them you need more money, tell them that you have something to say and Chad just repeated it in a different tone of voice. Do your weird thing. Yeah, sure, it’s weird. I mean that doesn’t matter. Just do it. Life is short, we’re all going to die, it’s 2017, we’re all very aware of this fact. Just do it. We don’t have enough time to be afraid of shit.” Yeah. And, basically, what I’m saying is I’m turning into my mother [laughter]. Yeah. That’s that.

What did you mean by you are very aware of the amount of space you’re given?

Well, my experience, being a black woman who’s not a particularly small person. For context, I’m like 5’5, 5’6 now and somewhere around 200 pounds. I’ve been approximately this size since the age of 12, and that was one of the first things my grandfather started telling me when was going through puberty was, “Celebrate your height. Don’t slouch,” and me being, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about, this is awful.” And so I’ve been big, I was a fat kid, and I used to have a whole bunch of hair, like three-and-a-half feet, just everywhere. And I’ve been very aware of– and I was a bully on the playground [laughter]. So I’m very aware of, “Oh, I am going to be bigger and stronger than some of the people around me. I have the ability to do a lot of damage if I’m not being careful,” and preemptively thinking about other people’s’ concerns. And I can make myself take up a lot of space or, if I’m in a situation where I’m worried about my personal safety or trying to impress these white people so they will give me my paycheck, I’m also capable of making myself very small. And for a long time, being small is a reaction to not wanting to be the kid that hurts people and everybody doesn’t like you. Being small has been my default. But I mean, right around the time I got into the relationship that I’m currently in, I was like, “Oh, I don’t have to do that. Some people will like me even when they’re a little bit intimidated. Oh, people being intimidated by you sometimes doesn’t mean they don’t want to be your friends. Oh, well, in that case, that’s just what I’m going to do [laughter],” that side. And so I started doing things like accepting compliments and letting people be good enough friends with me that I would give them my no-bullshit answers to things, which, again, is still relatively new. But it’s great. I’m enjoying it [laughter].

What is something you still struggle with?

I mean it’s definitely vulnerability, which is sort of ironic, given the circumstances. But since I was a kid, I’ve been really good and rigorous about kind of hiding what I’m really interested in and what I really think about things and the stuff that I care about a lot, I want that to be a secret. I don’t let anybody know because I grew up expecting to be judged and corrected about things. I wanted to figure things out by myself and so my reaction to that was to just be very, very secretive all the time. And I’m still kind of getting over that now, being like, “Oh, these are friends that I’ve chosen and they already know that I’m kind of weird or kind of a lot, so it can be okay to not like the same things or to be into something that’s kind of odd and be honest about it because people can’t really know you and it gets kind of lonely if you’re not honest.” It’s all very aspirational [laughter]. It’s not a linear journey by any means. There are degrees and bits where I have to be, “By the way, I was kind of lying when I said that I was interested in doing that. I really want to go home and go to sleep.” But, yeah, that’s the one that’s closest and most in my face, in my daily thoughts right now.

What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, familial, and otherwise?

So …my thoughts have definitely evolved. I was raised by very private people who were also evangelical Christians. As we’re doing this interview, I’m still kind of like, “Man, they’re going to find this. It’s going to be weird but, you know, we probably need to have that conversation anyway [laughter].” So I guess my expectations for a lot of my life have been, you’re in a  monogamous relationship and maybe you have two or three close friends. And that’s not really what I’m doing with my life right now. I’ve discovered, as I’ve been more real with myself, that, actually, I’m really interested in having different kinds of intimacy with maybe more than just one person. Because intimacy, there’s sexual and there’s emotional, and a lot of other different kinds. I learned about myself this year, that I’m a person who’s very happy with casual touching, whereas my partner is someone who does not like to be touched unless you’re really close. I’m like, “No, actually I don’t feel that way,” and it’s really hard for me to maybe be emotionally vulnerable but other kinds of intimacy are really– I feel more powerful when I have more of that in my life, which is kind of the heady new thing I’m still working out. But, no, relationships are great. Relationships can fuck you up for sure, but not always [laughter].

What is something that you feel very accomplished with?

This feels kind of dumb but in 27 years, I would feel like the thing that I feel the most accomplished about is having a sex life [laughter] because I definitely didn’t expect to have one of those the first, I’m going to say, 18 years of my life, when I was like, “Oh, whatever, that means you have to marry a cis man and have kids and homeschool them probably and just be miserable until you’re dead [laughter].” That wasn’t in the cards. Now, I’m like, “Oh, first of all, none of those things are true and also you can have sex and not be miserable.” Thanks, Obama [laughter]. It’s been nice, you know, being able to divorce those things.



Megan Larson

Date of Interview: January 7, 2017

Name: Megan

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

So, I actually don’t love the ocean, but I did some research on this question.  I looked up creatures that are solitary in nature, and the first thing to come up was an octopus. Yeah, I guess I would be an octopus. They’re considered one of the most intelligent and behaviorally diverse creatures in the ocean, which I thought was really cool.

What are you passionate about?

The word passionate is kind of tricky to me, because I feel like there has to be a monumental action that follows it. So if I say “I’m passionate about music”, I should be making it. If I say “I’m passionate about literature”, I should be writing it.  If I say “I’m passionate about equality or human rights”, I should be marching for it. But I don’t… and that doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about those things, because I am – my actions are just not as monumental. I’m passionate about music, so I listen to it. I’m passionate about literature, so I read it. I’m passionate about equality and human rights, so I believe in it and I stand with my friends in support. I will say something that has become more important to me that I’ve become passionate about is  self awareness and… I feel like I’ve always been self aware of things that I want out of this life, but I don’t think, until very recently, I’ve been aware about my worth. I’m a catch. I hate saying that because it sounds like such a conceited thing to say, but I really don’t think it is. Recently I’ve been like fuck yeah, I’m a catch and I’m a queen and you’re a queen and we should be going after relationships that back that up. That’s something that I’ve become extremely passionate about, is this self awareness discovery. I feel like I’ve been on it for awhile now I guess.

What was the catalyst for that discovery?

So I’ve been single for a year and a half and before my previous relationship I was single for three years. I’ve spent a lot of my 20’s being single and number one; I think that’s fantastic. But I’m just like every other person, I want to be able to find whomever my person is and live whatever life we’re destined to live. In the summer I met this guy and we had this amazing connection and this chemistry was undeniable. I immediately realized that… this could be it. I thought that relatively soon. It ended up that I was wrong, of course. He would disappear, and then kept coming back, saying things that made it seem like he wanted all of these things with me. And we kept doing this cycle. This last time he disappeared again, which was not too long ago, I realized I felt really good. Like so good about this. Because I’ve given it three chances and it’s obviously not gonna work out. Immediately I was like, “what the fuck am I doing?” I realized that I deserve so much better than this. I deserve someone who actually wants to be with me, and that his actions match his words. So, it’s been pretty recent that I’ve had this total epiphany, but I think it’s been something I’ve been working towards the past few years.

What do you think of platonic relationships?

I think platonic relationships are so important. I’m not going to say I’m “blessed” because I don’t like saying that word in general. But I do feel like I’m so extremely lucky, and I don’t know what I did right in my life to deserve the people that I have in it. One of my closest friends, she also lives here and we went to high school together. We weren’t close in high school, but now we are and… she’s one of the best people that I know! I don’t think I would be able to enjoy my time as much if she wasn’t here. There’s a handful of people in my life that I’m so lucky to have. Those relationships are super important, when you’re single and even when you’re with someone in a romantic way.

Matt Ingram

Matt Ingram


Date of Interview: September 22, 2016

Name: Matt Ingram

Age: 23

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Location: Washington, DC


If you were an underwater creature which one would you be?

I saw that you ask this a lot and tried not to think about it too much… What is that joke that dolphins are really just gay sharks? What is that from? I’m compelled to say a dolphin because they are beautiful and smart and don’t they have echolocation or something? I feel like that is something I would want, something kind of like a super power. To be a super power among a bunch of sea creatures would be pretty cool. I’m doing a quick inventory of all the sea creatures I can think of to make sure that dolphin is the correct selection. Ummm… I’m gonna go with dolphin. And they can jump out of the water! That looks really fun! And they can squirt shit out of their hole… their blowhole. Definitely dolphin.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be?

A lot of things. I remember distinctly in kindergarten wanting to be a… so some of the first music I was exposed to as a kid was boy band pop music, who knows maybe that’s why I’m a homosexual, but I remember just thinking that the Backstreet Boys and NSync were extremely cool and so I really wanted to be that. I’m clearly very close to achieving that dream now. Yeah, so I wanted to do that and then for a long time I wanted to be a film actor, then a stage actor, then I got pretty content being creative in any capacity that I could be in.

Does recognition matter to you?

Yeah, I think it does. More than I would like it to. Yeah, it does sometimes and I think that I try to tell myself and to remind myself that it’s not everything and personal goals are more important than meeting the standards that I’ve decided that other people have. But, yes, yes it does matter to me. I just try to be conscious of how much.

What are you passionate about?

I think that’s a question that has made me fraught for most of my life. Or for at least recent years because I haven’t really been able to pinpoint something and that’s been pretty frustrating. But when I think about where I derive good feelings from, like what gives me joy, I don’t necessarily have a specific thing that I can share. Like, an activity, there are activities that I like but it’s hard for me to say. Most people would say ‘music’ or ‘art’, like people who hold themselves to their art or their ‘thing’ and for me I would say that my thing is like, moments. Good moments. Things that give me joy are fleeting, moments that aren’t long lasting. So anything that can make a good moment. That’s what I would say I’m passionate about.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual or otherwise.

Well I think that playing into the moment thing, all that we have, I mean, okay so… there are these movies by this guy Richard Linklater, he made a movie called Boyhood which you might be familiar with, but he also made these movies- a trilogy. The first one is called Before Sunrise, the second one is Before Sunset and the third one is called Before Midnight. These movies follow this couple over the course of their relationship and the movies were made in nine year intervals. So ’95, 2004 and 2013 and every movie is kind of a snapshot of the couple at that point in the relationship. My point is that there is a line that the woman, it’s of a heterosexual relationship, says to the man which is that she, she’s talking about how, I’m probably going to fuck this up because I can’t remember it all, but she’s talking about God. She says something like “I think that God is the magic that exists between two people”. They have this very romantic night, this chance encounter and she says that she thinks it’s God- them being together, the magic that exists between two people. And so, yeah. That’s what I think of relationships, they’re fleeting, some last for forever, some last for a second and you don’t know which are which. And that’s really stressful sometimes, but I think they’re vital.

Have you been in love?

I don’t know. Next question. Maybe, but, not now. ::laughs:: I mean, maybe, yeah, I’ve been in love with a slice of pizza before.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

I’m bad at this thing like thinking of my superlatives on the spot. I think that I feel similarly, well I don’t want to call you out in my interview but, I feel like it would be really lame to try to go through the history of my life and hoping to find something because I’ve never thought of that, like quantified that. But my biggest accomplishment is that since high school or since I’ve realized that you can feel self conscious, I’ve worked through that as much as I possibly can. I feel like I’m still self conscious in the ways that matter to everyday life, but my real answer is that I have gotten to know myself well enough that even though it can still hold me back sometimes, I can acknowledge those parts. I think my biggest accomplishment is growth in the way that I can talk to myself. I can talk to myself and get over things that before, would have been debilitating. I’ve grown to understand it. You’re state of mind changes, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. The thing I’m proudest of is recognizing that and being able to tell myself that and knowing that I can talk myself through it. The clarity to say to myself when something good is happening- this is good and enjoy it.

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