by Aidan Encarnacao

What’s your favourite color?

Green all the way! I always surround myself with the color green. To me, it's serenity, peace, and comfort. All very important to me - so I'm able to give my love selflessly and unconditionally, be it for work or to the people around me. My mom has taught me that behind everything you do, there should be love.

What’s your favourite ‘go-to’ recipe?

The one food I always praise and probably will always praise would have to be Banitsa. It's a traditional dish we eat in Bulgaria, but it's incredible, very easy to cook and I think everyone should try it, no matter where they're from. Banitsa + Yoghurt is a whole spiritual experience.

What self-care habits do you intertwine into your daily routine?

To me, self-care is all about building a good relationship with yourself, so in order to do this, I take walks daily with just myself, meditate daily to have a clear consciousness and treat myself to good skin/body/hair-care products. Sometimes late at night I just vibe with myself in front of the mirror imagining I'm in a musical/movie or singing in a stadium.

What's your favourite book and what book had the largest impact on you?

My favorite book series is one I read as a child called Nightmare Academy by Dean Lorey. However, the book that had the largest impact on me in my entire journey is The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. I will always recommend this book, it's incredible for your mental health. It doesn't teach you anything new, but rather, reminds you of who you are and brings you back to your core, your most authentic self, and the results last for a long time. If you ever feel lost or confused with yourself or your path, I recommend giving the book a read. It's very easy to read and I hope it helps!

Who can you talk to when you need to get something off your chest?

My sister is always there for me when I need to clear my head or share something. She's never been judgemental and as a bigger sister, all she cares about is protecting me, so it's a great safe place.

Where’s your safe place?

Speaking of, definitely my room. I've made sure that everything around me makes me feel inspired, safe, and creative.

Have you ever dealt with anxiety? If so, what triggers it and how do you calm your mind?

Short answer- yes, my entire life. Triggers change as I grow and experience more of life. I meditate to calm my mind or take care of myself to build confidence.
Different triggers require different solutions, but looking into yourself, forgiving, and letting go for your own mental state's sake is a great place to start.

Have you or someone you love ever been in a dark place? If so, what were the steps taken to get out?

Of course! It's only human to fall down. I'm certain everyone in my life has been in a darker place, but for the bunch that have shared with me, I've always been empathetic, normalized their feelings, and did my best to inspire hope for better days (as it will eventually come, but sometimes you just need a reminder).

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?

Yes! For better and for the worse. Social media, unfortunately, has had some control over my mental health. It's made me incredibly happy, excited, and inspired, as well as, very sad, judged, misunderstood and existential. It's best to take some time off from it to regain power if you feel like you've lost it. Take time to grow and when you come back you'll see that once the things that hurt you, no longer matter and have that negative effect on you.

What’s the biggest change you can identify within yourself in the past year?

It was a very personal change. I'm happy I learned how to trust and open my heart to another person again.

What changes do you want to see within yourself in the coming year?

I'm not pushing any change on myself, cause I know that life will be throwing things to make me grow regardless of what I want. I'd mostly want to see myself creative, successful, and having fun in the upcoming year.

What’s one of the hardest things you’ve had to go through in life? How did you get through it?

Since coming to England I've had to deal with a lot of rough things, most of which I would rather not share publicly just yet, but one of the demons I had to fight before coming was dealing with the homophobia in my home country of Bulgaria, growing up with it all around me and adapting to it, in order to not lose myself around it, but still ending up safe. It was hard, especially for a kid with no one to turn to for help, but not impossible and I believe it builds great character.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Don't start smoking! I quit early this year and now that I've been "sober" for a while I see clearly on how ridiculous it is. By the way, it does not help you deal with your emotions, just teaches you how to numb them while damaging your health and your pocket, neither of which is a good thing.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt?

Patience. I'm sure that's a thing a lot of us have been enforced to learn this year was, but it's incredibly valuable and I'm grateful for that.

If you could change one thing within society, what would that be?

Just overall kindness. It's clear that if you're kind to yourself, then you learn how to be kind to others. In the upcoming year, I hope we've all learned kindness, so kids around us wouldn't have to deal with homophobia, racism, or misogyny growing up. I believe it's possible.