Why is Canada so Close to My Heart?
Canada is all about community to me. I still vividly remember the overwhelming day when I arrived here at Pearson in Victoria BC for the first time. The vastness of energy, warmth, joy, and laughter greeted me upon my arrival. My first thought was that this was it. This was the place that was ready to accept me to the community regardless of who I was before coming to Canada. At first, it was difficult for me to navigate this uncertainty of the new since it was so different from what my homogeneous community consisted of in Finland.
What struck me was the fact that I didn’t have to justify who I was using socioeconomic status, class, religion, or grades - the only thing that mattered was who I was as a person. If I am being honest, I really did not know who I was and I couldn’t even explain it at first - that concept was just so unknown to me. But, by being a part of the community I started to see what things resonate with me with more clarity. So, I understood that in order for me to be able to explore myself even further, I had to open up my heart for new connections. That I did, and so a realization came to me almost instantaneously. It was a tough moment for me. I wanted to forget it, but I just couldn't. I realized that in those past 17 years of my life, I had been so focused on how others lived, that I had lost a part of myself. So, I cried, and I cried a bit more. But I also knew that there was only one thing to do: to set a goal for the year to come. Thus, my main goal for 2020 is to expand my heart to the unknown and understand more about what makes me as a person.
What Inspired Me to Capture My Life Through Images in Canada?
For a very long time, I thought I wasn’t good enough to take pictures - that I couldn’t possibly create something of my own. I hadn’t realized I had spent years working to the point where there were so many layers of other people’s opinions piled and piled on top of me. At the time, I didn’t really believe I could create art or express who I was.
It has taken me a long time to retrain myself to believe that I am worthy - worthy to share an image of my own. I have spent the entire past year educating myself to live a life that is not like the one I have been living. When I eventually understood that it was about me going inward and understanding who I am to myself, everything changed. I felt liberated from the weight on my shoulders that was keeping me from living my life to its fullest. My camera allowed me to take full control of what I saw and how I wanted to express it. It also let me see my community through a new lens.
By giving permission to myself to explore my art and my muse, I am allowing myself to give back to my community. That is because the art I do is about the elements that make my community. That is, nature, structure, respect, and trust. Those are the four elements that I show in the images I capture because they are important to me. My art gives space for me to reflect on what I want to get from my community and how I could share a part of myself with them.
What Do I Do to Take a Break from Everything?
Days get overwhelming, and they can get overwhelming fast. My plate fills up like one at an an-all-you-can-eat buffet: activities, school, exams, fitness, and friends. It resembles a small mountain of worries at the end of the week. So, there are times when I just want to be and enjoy myself to deconstruct that mountain of emotional buildup. That is when I do one thing. I open my laptop and search for commercials on YouTube. I love adverts because they capture an idealized image of the world we are living in - everything is perfect and curated under the full control of the narrator. Obviously, that is not how the world operates, but at the back of my mind I ask “What if it did?”
My love for commercials began around ten or so years ago. Commercials were my resort in times of uncertainty - times where I could only place my sense of security on something fixed. I think that commercials gave me a soothing feeling in those times. I remember rushing to the TV and anxiously selecting the right channel to watch the dressed-up American women sell pans and new cooking utensils that had just been released in America. The reason why I did that is because I was scared; I was scared of my parents when they were fighting over money. I used to visualize anger as a sombre cloud hovering over my parents; I was afraid that the cloud would approach me. So, watching people sell products cheerfully helped me in the cold of my living room to imagine a world where the sky is clear up to the point where there wouldn’t be any anger.
As a consequence, commercials have helped me to process my thoughts and emotions. I am able to use commercials to my advantage as I can always resort to watching them whenever I need a break from the overwhelming nature of my life. Now that I reflect on why I watched commercials in the first place, I have come to realize that commercials have assisted me to get a grip on the present and imagine what the future might hold for me.
What Did I Learn About My Culture in Canada?
I come from a culturally homogenous society. I also belong to the minuscule Estonian immigrant community in Finland. I would say that me being born to such a community has had a very large impact on who I am - in both good and not so good ways.
Since I was little I have felt like I had no one to share my story with. Partly because I had very little in common with both the Finnish and the Estonian communities, but partly also because I was craving for the diversity of ideas. Fortunately, that time spent alone allowed me to reflect from a very young age. I got to explore what I liked and what didn’t resonate with me. It allowed me to fall in love with chemistry on YouTube.
Chemistry is one of my dearest passions - a passion that fuels me. It has allowed me to explore an entirely new perspective of the world. A world in which we can change and have an open dialogue of the questions “what”, “how”, and “when.” Those are the questions that I deem integral in both life and chemistry. I say that because I feel like it is so important to understand how, why, and when things happen. That is especially true for the scientific method. But the real world has a stronger urgency for those questions to be asked. I feel like if we just had the courage to ask those questions where it matters, then we could transform the cultural atmosphere we are living in right now.