by Aidan Encarnacao


What’s your favourite colour?
Red. Definitely Red. I just can’t get past how bold red is.

What self-care habits do you intertwine into your daily routine?
Stretching, conscious breathing and meditating most days. At the moment I’m trying to go sit by the ocean and journal in the mornings. Lots of tea and deep belly breaths.

What's your favourite book?
Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky.

Who can you go to when you need to get something off your chest?
My female best friends are my safe place. A lot of them don’t live anywhere near me and I still feel closest to them. Siena, Angie, Laura, Charlotte, Amelia.

What’s your safe place?
Safe place is the beach; there’s this field in my mind I go to sometimes. A private room with a candle burning. Child’s pose.

Have you ever dealt with anxiety? If so, how do you calm your mind?
I have had pretty severe anxiety since I was like 15 years old. The quickest easiest way for me to calm myself is to take a deep belly breath and find the “nucleus of the moment”. It’s this new thing I’m trying where I just try and find the absolute centre of the moment. I think we can so easily live so far ahead or even just slightly ahead of the moment, trying to anticipate and control, and that’s a big part of anxiety. It’s not quite so simple; sometimes I get overstimulated and all I can do is go into my room and lie in bed with the lights off for a while. I’ve spent years studying grounding techniques for anxiety and different degrees of anxiety require different things, but this is step one: the belly breath. The moment.
Other things that help are yoga, a walk, journalling, talking to a friend, dancing/punching out the energy, reading. I need to spend more time feeling the ground beneath my feet.

Have you ever gotten yourself out of a dark place? Or have you ever needed to help someone else out? If so, how?
I’m not an expert, and can only speak from my own experience. At this point in my life, the most important ingredient of dark times and dark places has been acceptance; surrendering to what is. Even if I am going to immediately change it, meeting my experience, my circumstances, my level and capability where it’s at has been the most important. I am a BIG advocate for therapy - one on one, group therapy, embodiment, art therapy - and I seek regular, reliable support from coaches, therapists, groups, personal trainers all the time. I write a lot, which helps me just connect to my experience (I need to know where I’m at before I can be where I’m at). The “darkest” place I can remember in recent times was this year; I was full of shame and fear. Having a once-a-week commitment to a boxing club based around mental health was a turning point for me. Feeling supported and loved and nourished, having people tell you you’re worthy even if you don’t believe it. I’ve never felt so vulnerable but ready to accept love and support from people I didn’t even know. I think the cool part was that they could love me, even if they didn’t know me. It taught me a big lesson about love. We don’t love people because of anything. We just love each other. It’s not like you have to prove your compatibility with someone for them to love you. I guess I didn’t quite know that before.

Do you think social media affects your mental health or has any other negative impacts on you? If so, how do you best deal with it?
Here is a short essay on why social media has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me: (I think it might be worth reading) Social media shows me in such a direct way my behaviours, patterns, tendencies, reflexes, insecurities. It’s definitely revealed some really unconstructive shit and that’s why I’m so grateful for it. If you can really watch, who you are will show up pretty clearly through your social media use. It’s shown me the ways I really have ultimate control over my experience. It’s prompted me to:
- Unfollow/unsubscribe to that person or that way of thinking
- Re-pattern reactions to triggers
- Manipulate the algorithm to work in my best interests: fill my space with things that are nourishing for me at the time
These lessons apply to both the digital and physical space, and social media gave me a really clear concrete place to practise these habits.
Social media is bad during break ups, it can really exacerbate comparison, and it can be used as a numbing/distracting tool to have you disassociating from real life, real struggle, real growth, real pain. I am trying to take care, not to disappear into social media and stay rooted in my physical experience.
One of the important parts is the difference between inspiration and aspiration. I can be inspired by someone’s approach to social media, their attitudes towards life, the way they’ve built a life/home/career. But no longer will I aspire to someone’s social media presence, to their life itself, their home or their career. (or body!) It is an illusion to think that we can ever be someone else, or that that would ever make us happy. For me, it’s now about looking at individuals being 100% themselves and flourishing in the conditions they’ve created for themselves and then also trying to do that for myself. Create my conditions, not emulate theirs. As soon as I noticed myself comparing, I radically shifted the way I used social media - unfollowed any accounts I noticed myself comparing to in an aspirational way, and followed a bunch of people who I felt were living their own personal health and truth, who I didn’t feel the need to compare to. Slowly I was able to bring back those other accounts and see them through a different lens. And that’s the thing. We often see social media as the lens itself - the lens into others’ lives, the lens through which we view reality, but in actual fact we are the lens, we control the lens, we create the lens every day through a constellation of beliefs, practices, habits and decisions.

What’s your biggest fear?
Not fulfilling my potential. And sharks.

What’s the biggest change you can identify within yourself in the past year?
I’ve tried to enforce a stronger sense of individuality (I cut my hair, wrote a lot of music, tried to care less what people thought) and then had kind of a rude awakening back into the importance of the collective - staying clued in in politics, etc. This hasn’t fully germinated but I know it will: I have attention on it continually. Change is slow.

What’s one of the hardest things you’ve had to go through in life? How did you get through it?
Moving to New York marked a really big turning point in my life for independence. I moved there to study on my own at 20 years old, turned 21 just 1 month after I moved. I had a few friends there, no apartment, no freaking idea. I had my first break up just after I moved and was very… suspended. Just felt like I’d been thrown up into the air and didn’t know how or where to land. I started writing, a lot. I made new friends, wrote music, did acting classes which changed my life. This was also when I was just coming out of a short bout of trying really hard to be very thin for modelling and that was a big contributor to my body and mind’s trauma. I had insane anxiety and insomnia for a long time, but also a strong, strong sense of purpose. I’ll never forget when one of my best friends (who I didn’t know very well at the time) handed me a notebook and said “fill this up with words”. That shit changed my life. I just kept connecting to myself, listening to myself, and trusting myself - loving myself even when I would binge eat out of stress. That year was all about me, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I will say that moving myself off disordered eating beliefs and patterns was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. It’s this melting pot of shame, fear, scarcity mindset, straining for goals, looking for value outside of societal constraints. I had to work so hard to find myself among conflicting ideas and the shame of what I was going through. My mentor Amelia Zadro was a huge force in this progression. I had to rewire my ideas around everything, every part of myself and the society I’d for so long taken for granted as reality. It was slow. So, so, so, so slow. But worth it. So, so, so, so worth it.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
You are so much more than you know. Delve into your subconscious, see what you find. Always look for the question before you look for answers.
I would say:
You think that you know where the edges of the world lie - you think you can see the walls of existence, but you’re living in a small box in a giant galaxy of possibility - and just know that one day those walls will come down, and you’ll see everything. And it will be terrifying and glorious, and all the things you wrote on those walls will feel like lies, and everything you leant on or stood on or sat on have disappeared, and you’ll be suspended, and you’ll be listless and weightless and you’ll be so so painfully free.

If you could change one thing within society, what would that be?
I’d rid us all of shame - over ourselves, over others. It’s such a detrimental force.