Crystal Davis



At 20 I was told that I needed to curb my attitude and that I was irrational.

At 21 I was told that I cried too much.

At 22 my intelligence was insulted for being too trusting.

And now, at 23 is where I've decided to draw the line.

I'm not a carbon copy of how girls or "women my age" are supposed to act: naive and obedient. I am disobedient, I am passionate, and I am emotional.

For three years, I held myself captive in a relationship that was both mentally and emotionally abusive. I was stigmatized for crying or being TOO happy. How can someone be offended by happiness? You'd be surprised.

I was punished for loving someone too much. I thought that if I loved them enough they would return the same amount of love to me. In the end, I was by myself. Sure, I could have left. But had I done that too early, I wouldn't have learned a thing.

It's been nearly a year since I've been alone with myself and my thoughts. I'm no longer paralyzed by my emotions or how I should feel in a certain situation to appease others. In fact, I find it so much easier to spot other people in emotionally abusive relationships and I wish I could just tell them to move on and take care of themselves. I've seen them on the street, on the train, on the bus, at weddings and there's always some sort of disconnect between them and their partners. Had I seen that earlier, I wouldn't be the present me. I have learned so much about myself and that it's okay to express it all freely and effortlessly. We're emotional beings after all. And if you don't love yourself, no one will.

I am bolder, I am more eager than ever, I am edgier, and most of all I am emotional. I am unapologetically in love with my emotions. I will no longer say I am sorry when crying from happiness. I will no longer let someone pass me by if I am intrigued by them, I will no longer pass up a moment to do something memorable because I am nervous. I love others unconditionally. Some may see this as weakness, but I don’t. I used to apologize for falling in love so easily, but that’s what makes me unique as a person. I have such a strong love for so many people because of how deeply I see into them. People are so much more complex than they play off to be, so set in their roles that they often forget to be themselves. And when they are, when people open up to me, I find it to be the most satisfying thing in the world. I collect all these moments and cherish them.

Because what's living if you don't love yourself? What's living if you suppress your emotions for the sake of humanity?

About the photo:

I was photographed at Liberty State Park. Since the park was the centerpiece for many memories shared with a past lover who lived in the vicinity, it wasn’t a place I wanted to be in. Taking the photos here and being able to reclaim the sanctuary was and is empowering. You can’t stop yourself from loving a place because someone decided to fuck things up.