Breaking Ground: The Journey of Self-Discovery + Transformation

February 07, 2024

Mariana O. (she/her) is a dreamer, fighter, and creator. Born in Mexico City in 1999, Mar has flourished in the creative industry. At just 22, her passion for film and television earned her the role of Festival Director for the International University Film Festival LANTERNA 2022. She currently works at the prestigious Morelia International Film Festival, a globally renowned event. As a recent graduate with a major in Communication Studies and a specialization in Film and Television Production, Mariana is making her mark in the entertainment industry through her narrative talents in screenwriting and directing. Mariana is also a dedicated advocate for destigmatizing mental illnesses and encouraging people to seek help. In April 2022, she shared her personal struggles with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and an eating disorder on social media. Earlier this year, Mariana co-founded the NGO FundaMental with her mother and best friend. The organization aims to foster open conversations about mental health, therapy, and medication across Mexico and provides treatment scholarships. Though FundaMental is in its early stages, Mariana and her team are determined to break the stigma and revolutionize mental health in Mexico. Mariana’s daily journey toward recovery is fueled by music, film, reading, yoga, and mindfulness sessions, embodying strength and resilience.

This story took place in Mexico

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On my way to visit my grandparents weeks ago, I noticed their street in chaos—broken and torn. Considering Mexico City’s seismic risk, I initially thought of an earthquake, but of course, that was not it. I pondered other causes like a burst water pipe or an unauthorized heavy truck. When I asked my mom, she casually mentioned that workers were intentionally breaking and lifting pavement to repave the street and restore it.

In the quiet of the night, my thoughts returned to the broken road, a metaphor echoing my repeated experiences in the recovery process from depression, anxiety, self harm and an eating disorder. I realized that, like the road, I had to be shattered and torn apart before rebuilding. Exploring my innermost self, breaking down walls, and shaking the ground allowed space for a healthier and happier version of me to emerge.

I won’t hide it—I have a real soft spot for control, structure, and routine. Letting go of the familiar, breaking down walls, and stepping into the uncertainty of “what could be” rather than “what is” terrifies me and pushes me out of my comfort zone. However, in the course of treatment, it’s a path that can’t be avoided; it’s a journey you have to go through, not around.

With each apprehensive step, I came to realize that, despite the fear and discomfort, there was undeniable growth and beauty. More importantly, every stride created new room for improvement. As I tore down metaphorical walls, I witnessed light flooding in, guiding me onto a fresh path of growth and self-improvement.

I had to learn the art of breaking down to rebuild myself. Releasing old patterns and behaviors that led me to dark places, and straying from the person I wanted and knew I could be, became imperative. Letting go of irrational thoughts and self-imposed limitations was necessary to unlock my bravery and curiosity, guiding me to new heights.

Looking back at myself a few years ago, I see a distinct transformation without judgment. Today, my thoughts and ideals are more solid and deeply rooted in my soul because I planted my own seeds and actively worked on myself. I used to be an insecure girl, constantly seeking external validation and constant reassurance, but I had to dismantle that self-image even before fully understanding how I wanted to perceive myself. This process has led to a more confident and self-assured version of me, grounded in my convictions and inner strength.

Uncertain about who or what I wanted to become, I was sure I didn’t want to be trapped by my old thoughts and self-imposed beliefs. Through therapy, meditation, journaling, exercise, and music, I shattered those ideas, though it wasn’t easy or comfortable. At times, I considered reverting to self-hatred and judgment, not because I wanted them back, but because letting go proved harder than holding on. I hesitated to test my limits, reluctant to embrace a better version of myself without a clear vision of what I wanted to cultivate in their place.

In the space once occupied by fear, I’ve laid down a foundation of curiosity and bravery. Dismantling my former self-image, reliant on external validation, allowed me to recognize and appreciate the inherent worth within me. By debunking the idea of being close-minded and obsessive, I could acknowledge and nurture my true nature as an incredibly passionate woman. Embracing these revelations has made me appreciate the unique qualities that define me. None of these transformative realizations would have occurred if I hadn’t been willing to release my old self, making room for the emergence of my best version.

Building oneself is a beautiful journey of constant change and improvement, unveiling aspects that deepen our love and admiration for who we are. Dismantling my own walls, I realized I was constructing my best version—marked by truth, joy, kindness, and compassion. Instead of pitying broken streets or houses undergoing change, consider the possibilities they hold. Embrace change, let go of the old to make space for your best self. Beneath flaws and scars lies untapped potential, waiting for courage and self-compassion to emerge, allowing us to be true to ourselves with love, kindness, and gratitude.

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