Be Yourself?

Be yourself.

The motivational poster on the wall of the classroom that is my generation. But what does that even mean? I think this gives us too much credit. I am simply a vessel of influence. The influence I seek to have is the very influence that was had on me. Everything we do it simply drawn from our knowledge of the world around us. To believe that we are even capable of being something truly unique and original is egregious. To believe this is to be selfish and completely ignore from which we came. Looking back, I can identify the people and experiences that have shaped me into the man I am today.

I want to write like Jedidiah Jenkins, draw like Kurt Vonnegut, love like Mother Theresa and make people feel with images like Robert Frank. But is this so wrong? 

It takes a village, not a single man. I am not my own, I owe everything that I am to those before me. I am merely a reflection of my God and my influences.

Don’t be yourself, because who the hell knows what that is. Be the best in those around you, and then raise them one.

Austin Kilcullen

People change. That's the way it is, plain and simple. But is that so inherently wrong? We as a people love to criticize those around us because “they've changed,” when we fail to look inward and see the changes in ourselves. This brings me back to my question, is change so wrong?

Change gets a bad rap. It is the stuff of soon-to-be ex-girlfriends and old friends that fade into awkward encounters in the grocery store. Change, despite its bad reputation, goes by another name, growth.

I cannot fault a brother or a sister for changing when I haven't the slightest idea what is in their heart. As I sit in this coffee shop jotting down the ramblings of my heart and mind I think about the times others have accused me of this, all the while trying to ignore the time that I have done the same. We are just hypocritical this way; it's who we are.

People change. They grow together, and sometimes they grow apart. The ebb of flow of life. The way it goes. Call it what you may, it happens. So I think it's time we stop judging others for changing and start to examine our own hearts. People change for good, and for bad. It is time we start to celebrate the growth in those that changed for the better and begin to reconcile the distance between those that changed for the worse.

Embrace the change, and recognize it in yourself before you judge it in those around you.

Austin Kilcullen
Changing of the Seasons

Life is a hodgepodge of sorts.

Over the course of the past few years I’ve learned a lot of things, but one of the things that has stuck with me is that one person’s season of life is no more or less important than the next persons. Each season happens for a reason and has something to teach us. Each has a theme that seems to permeate every crease and wrinkle of every day; as if it is reaching out, desperately trying to teach us something.

At 22, I find myself in the season of life that is my early 20’s and the end of my time in college in Abilene and beginning a life after college, a life completely my own. Thus far in this particularly busy stage of life one thing seems to be continuously reoccurring: the idea of letting go. Letting go of friends as they part ways to live the lives ahead of them. Letting go of places I hold dear and the memories they hold. Letting go of family as I move into the next phase of life. Letting go of the comfort that college provides in knowing what the future holds.

The question that seems to work its way through everything in the year is, “How do you let go?” To answer this question, I have to delve a deeper into the things I am faced with leaving.

First: Friends

It hit me last week as I was sitting at home working on a summer class, that when I go back to Abilene in the fall that at least 75% of the friends I came into college with will be absent.

Second: Home

Tennessee, and in particular the Nashville/Clarksville area hold a very near and dear place in my heart. So many of life’s milestones have been realized here. This city is home to me, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake that. With that in mind, for the foreseeable future my interaction with Tennessee will be reduced to short visits around the holidays.

Lastly: Family

This one ties into the previous point. My immediate family has been one of the only constant things in my life for the past few years in general. Being two states removed from three of the most important people in my life for the past four years has been hard yet doable, but as after-college plans begin to take shape this distance is starting to solidify.

I am in no way advocating that I should shrug it off or simply jettison these aspects of my life. On the contrary, I am working to find a comfortable balance between letting go these parts of my life as the gradually drift away from me (in mileage only) and holding on to these same bits that have built and cemented me into the man that I am today.

I want to find a concrete solution to this problem; to have a step-by-step plan that would navigate me through the mystery involved in growing up. As much as I a yearn for such an answer I think that finding it would ruin me. Life isn’t about finding answers; it is about never ceasing to search for them. So I resolve to leave this question unanswered. For now, I trust the direction in which I’m heading and know that I am surrounded by people that love me and will continue to be with me every step of the way, even if they are two states away.

Austin Kilcullen
Find Your Wilderness

Our hearts yearn for the wild. A place teaming with life in its rawest form.

You can't buy happiness because you can't buy simplicity. You are the happiest in life where you feel the most connected. Not in the sense of cell service and wifi. To feel the earth inhaling and exhaling under your very feet. To look the man next to you in the eye and know that he feels the same peace as you without a single word being spoken.

May we walk the earth with the smell of campfire in our hair, mud stuck to our boots and our full of the joy and peace that comes from time spent in wild places. May the only thing wilder than the places we go be the spirit that lives within us.

Austin Kilcullen

Styling has the chance to change everything. It can change the way you think, see and feel without you even realizing it. For my final in a photography class I was in last fall I decided to delve further into the world of styling; to focus more on creating a cohesive visual experience as opposed to just taking photos. During this process I worked with Peighton Eubank, both as a model and a co-stylist. Check out some of the finished products below!

Austin Kilcullen