Excavating My True Self, by Tori Press

This is a drawing about the layers we build around ourselves, the way we bury our true selves so deeply and effectively beneath the surface that we can become lost even to ourselves.

We start at the top, at the outermost layer that everyone can see—your groomed and cultivated external appearance, over which you have control and with which you can make a statement about who you are. Below that, you’re influenced by the culture in which you live, the unconscious messaging you may have been absorbing for years of your life, your personal experiences, the beliefs and biases you’ve formed about the world, the way you speak to yourself in your own head—often without even realizing It. 

I’ve learned that clinging to any of the upper layers means clinging to a version of myself that’s not authentic, that’s not real. Whether I am latching onto the belief that I am my most superficial, carefully curated, external self, or to the more subtle, sinister, and convincing belief that I’m all the things my self-talk says I am—either way, I am not seeing my authentic self.

My true self is that quietly steady part of me that is the observer, the voice separate from any perception or influence. The part that has always known itself, but may have forgotten itself or experienced fear in revealing itself to the outside world. 

About Tori Press

Tori Press is a freelance artist and writer who focuses on mental health, mindfulness, and self-compassion. Her drawings about the joys and struggles of the human experience have been featured in several publications, including the Huffington Post and A Plus. Tori lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and two children. Visit her at and on Instagram.

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