by Aidan Encarnacao


What’s your favourite color?
My favourite colour has been brown since I was in kindy! It reminded me of puppy dogs and chocolate and teddy bears - although I tried to explain this to kids my age, I’d get so ridiculed about it haha.

What’s your favourite ‘go-to’ recipe?
Now because I’m immune compromised I eat super duper simple food, though I can’t help but indulge in special yummy food here and there (but it’ll knock me out for days). But for special days, I love making gyoza, and hot pots with kimchi.

What self-care habits do you intertwine into your daily routine?
Meditation, reading and writing is a big important thing in my life right now. My brain kinda just goes beep boop if I don’t. I was always a high achiever in school academically and since that I got really sick. I suffered really bad brain fog so I try to do everything I can to counter that. I also try to have my phone on grayscale as much as possible (I big recommend you google the benefits!). Also drinking water and maintaining my skin care.

What's your favourite book and what book had the largest impact on you?
The answer to this changes all the time! But right now, I loved reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy ~ but the book that has had the largest impact on me would have to be The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I recommend it to everyone! As well as Atomic Habits by James Clear , The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. 

Who can you talk to when you need to get something off your chest?
I’m lucky to have such a safe and understanding relationship with my boyfriend and my mum. Communication always helps with everything. I appreciate them a lot. 

Where’s your safe place?
My safe place is in writing music for as long as I can remember ( I hope it becomes a safe space for those listening some time too). Writing, creating, listening; music can be an escape for a lot of people, but for me it’s not an escape it’s more of a grounding ~ Music as a fluid ever changing thing you know, what good is a record that doesn't keep moving? There's no sound, no vibrations. It is constant change even through its repetitions ~ mirrors the now and it’s grounding and so beautiful. 

Have you ever dealt with anxiety? If so, what triggers it and how do you calm your mind?
Anxiety has always been my ultimate Achilles heel. I’ve struggled heavily with it long before I even knew what it was, especially in early primary school years thinking the feeling was a “deep fear of being sick”. I recently reminisced with my mum how I had missed a lot of school (especially grade 3) due to anxiety, even though I loved school and learning and my friends. Even in grade 10 or 11 I got shingles and the doctor said it was from extreme stress and anxiety. I know now it was a lot to do with my childhood and home life. A lot of things trigger my anxiety, but I think above all physical & sense driven triggers the biggest of all is expectation. The expectations that others have of me and those I have of myself. 

I write it down and reflect to calm my mind. Things that help a lot are definitely writing, reading, washing my face, drinking tea, reorganising my space and above all meditation. Also a hug from someone who cares is always nice.

Have you or someone you love ever been in a dark place? If so, what were the steps taken to get out?
Yes definitely. Everyone has, I think it’s a condition of life.
Meditation has changed so much of the way it affects me. 
Finding control and finding yourself through breathing in and out. Hydrate, write down, doing it all mindfully. Easing into now, and feeling  yourself making decisions. Though I do admit, easier said than done in the moment. The key is to be in the moment.

I think the biggest thing is to acknowledge when I’m holding onto the dark place, and pain, as an identification of self. Knowing that pain isn’t our being; it takes bravery to step away and let pain and dark moments wither away. As humans we are afraid of things ending, dying and going into unknown. But we are not our pain or anxiety; we don’t disappear when those things disappear! Meditating to feel ourselves in the effortless now really helps with that. Especially when tackling dissociation and frantic moments.

This is something I thought I knew until I realised I didn’t. Things never stop being difficult, but we can take control and observe difficulties rather than personifying them. 

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?
Most definitely, especially when I was in high school. I didn’t even have a phone or social media till quite a later age and I couldn’t imagine the impact if I did have it at that age and what it’s doing to the youth now. I just hope there’s a shift of information etc. I see it happening though, like these little interviews of transparent communication. 

But I believe social media and the internet can be such an incredible tool at the same time - listening to meditation podcasts and podcasts in line with my interests has helped me to be in touch with myself more than ever. With good habits, the internet and social media is such a fruitful place!

What’s the biggest change you can identify within yourself in the past year?
Being able to slow down, I’ve been so frantic to the point where it’s left me past the point of  exhaustion  - but learning how to slow down to the moment. So important. It’s funny, within the past year I’ve had extreme shifts both deeply negative and extremely freeing. We can grow so much in a year. It’s exciting. 

What changes do you want to see within yourself in the coming year? 
To let go of the anxiety that I still hold on to. I want to flourish in my art and be unapologetic in sharing it. To take control of what energy I choose to keep around me. I guess overall expand on the small big steps I’ve taken in the past year.

What’s one of the hardest things you’ve had to go through in life? How did you get through it?
Fear of mortality. Sheesh, that’s a big scary one, and is something that has always been a big cause of my anxiety (I’m sure for almost everyone else at a point too).
The fear of losing my mum to cancer, facing reality of losing someone I had such special connections with. I realised there’s so little you can control, we can only know now and control how we want to go about these things. We chose compassion and strength and unwavering spirit. I was moving houses, still sick myself but mum was so strong and got through it all, becoming cancer free after a double mastectomy like a champ (LOVE YOU MUM).  In a short time after the relief of mum being cancer free,  I was faced with the loss (the first time I’ve experienced it) of another very special person, who at the time was someone I connected to so so much. Despite so many odds, she never feared that unknown, only fearing not being in the present. I think I’ll always carry that and our conversations with me. 

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
It’s funny, at age 22 I relate more to myself when I was 7 than 16. Don’t lose yourself in the way you think you need to be perceived by others in high school lmaooo. Indulge more in what you love, they are very cool ~ books, video games, music, breeds of dogs, films! 

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt?
That we can only ever have control of our own actions, thoughts and reactions. To embrace love and to embrace now ~ and to be kind when doing so.

If you could change one thing within society, what would that be?
Mindfulness. For people to truly realise we only ever experience now, rather than always being stuck in the past or the future. To see beauty in simply being and to be kind, strong and stoic in the now. Transparency and vulnerability to the moment is a superpower - I think if we all did this, we would all connect on a level that a lot of people consider unreachable or unrealistic, when it’s the purest and most real thing we’ve got.