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February 5, 2024

The Butterfly and the Snake

by Nyla Hasan

The Butterfly and the Snake

As we kick off our newsletters this year, I intend to share in a more meaningful way, more of my thoughts, my creative process, and a sprinkling of nostalgia for the things I hold dear. I’ve been immersed in change and loss of identity. There are moments in our lives where we are at a crossroads – to reset and restart to find our way back to ourselves, or to hold firm in the past. 

Navigating through life's profound changes—whether it's grappling with the loss of a loved one, welcoming a new life into the world, or enduring a radical shift in life circumstances is complex. You might feel like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon or a snake shedding its skin, the journey is inevitable and challenging. The most daunting part lies in trudging through the murky change, attempting to discern clarity amidst the uncertainty and chaos. Eventually, the haze begins to clear, and the challenges start to feel surmountable. But to do this, it requires work, hard work, to get through to the other side. I have experienced both forms of growth—the butterfly and the snake.

The Butterfly

The transformation into motherhood, for me, was profound. When I welcomed my first child into the world, it felt like I birthed two new people - my daughter and myself. Though messy at times, both literally and figuratively, this phase held its beauty as we emerged from a nine month cocoon. It was an opportunity for unimaginable growth and expansion of love.

I was confronted with my identity, my priorities, and the complexities of nurturing a new life. I was digging into ‘who I am’ and ‘where I’m from’, those parts of my identity that are important to me, to pass on—my heritage, traditions, creativity, and perspective. I realized I hadn’t reconciled being a mixed-race person and my identity was very compartmentalized - one side is Pakistani and the other white American. My mind was grasping to understand—

How does this multidimensional identity coexist with who I am at the core? 

How can I help shape my children’s perspectives to see themselves as whole? 

One thing for certain is that I need to see myself as whole first. This was one of the sparks that led me down the path to start the øther.


The Snake

Today, I find myself shedding my skin like a snake. I am grappling with the intense aftermath of personal loss. At the close of 2023, my grandfather and one of my dearest friends both died within weeks of each other. This phase of grief embodies the cloudy vulnerability of transformation. The experience is unpleasant, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. And there's no prescribed way to experience it. The void left by these losses remains unfillable, and I feel as if I exist in a liminal space— unsure of what lies ahead, and unable to go back. I am uncertain of the person I am becoming, but I know change is certain.

A way I cope with their absence in my life is through what I wear. It has become a way for me to hold onto their memory and keep them present with me. My grandfather always wore plaid shirts. I have a few of his gently worn shirts in my closet. They have become unexpected staples in my current wardrobe.

I’m wearing sparkly socks today. It keeps me connected to Benish. When we met, her love of extravagant, sparkling heels was iconic. I admired her unapologetic embrace of her individuality. She used her signature fashion pieces to be a catalyst for her presence. This resonated with me deeply.  It’s something that continues to influence the way we build the øther. Benish was one of our closest advisors and champions. 

These small and subtle gestures give me connection to the people I love, who I am, and act as my compass while I navigate grief. It has been unexpected, but powerful. I see this as part of my ever-evolving style and identity. 

I’m finding that personal style is much more than what I wear, it is an integral part of who I am becoming. 




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