The Reason Why We Exist

By Joelle Monje, fan of The Skin Deep.

We at The Skin Deep are focused on exploring human connection in the digital age. When we receive words like these, they remind us of why we exist and inspires us to continue on. We felt compelled to share them with you -Topaz Adizes, Founder + Creative Director.


Hello Carla and everyone at The Skin Deep feeding my soul,

Just dropping in to say hello, you guys are lifesavers at four in the morning and I’m responding to the invitation to tell the team about my favorite {The And} conversation. So, here, I’m writing to let you know how my heart tugged, broke and hoped with all the kindred spirits in the {The And} series.

Watching {The And} definitely was eye-opening — one lazy summer afternoon I just happened to have a little more free time on my hands, and that meant doing just about anything to please the millennial, perennially-thrill-seeking being that I am. It happened that I was drawn to stories: in particular, the different way these unfolded from real people who wear the same shoes and walk more than a mile in those, bringing us along for the journey, and showing just how much all our joys and hopelessness are a shared and collective struggle and triumph of the human experience.

I found a couple of heart-tugging moments as I delved into the story of the girl who knew that the boy she really really liked knew how she really felt about him, and this guy unable to feel the same way having not fallen as hard as she had; Ben and Sidra who looked as cool as any of us dreamed to be and me wondering if I could ever be them — the same easygoing, all-smiles take on life, the questions they asked and the conversations they have — do we all get that out of the lives we live, or did they win some kind of relationships and communications lottery?

{THE AND} Ben & Sidra

The guy who makes movies and his four-year-old daughter who couldn’t keep still the way only kids couldn’t, how she stared up at him and told him she misses him when he’s not around and made me wonder if I have ever looked at the people in my life the same way — with wide eyes, taking in everything they say, all in complete surrender to every moment we share. And then I got to Andrew and Keisha who taught me perhaps the single most important thing I would have to remember as I navigate a whole new life ahead of me in a foreign country where every day, like how Ben and Sidra make a conscious choice to be together, I choose to be here.

I looked and Andrew and Keisha, marveled at the ease in which they grew in sync and saw how strikingly different they could be, if I were to think like the rest of the world that would choose to judge someone and the life they could live based solely on how they looked. I looked at them and I realized what they have known all along, what they choose to live by every day, that the color of my skin — is just a color. It doesn’t, (though at times it frustratingly does, but we all know) it shouldn’t define who we are and who we still hope to become; what we can do and what gifts and talents we have yet to show the world; what I perceive beautiful; and even how much I can charm my way around. The color of my skin is just a color and it doesn’t make me far too different than the taller, richer kids who have lived their whole life in this foreign country I now choose every day to call home.

{THE AND} Keisha & Andrew

Sure, I grew up halfway around the world, with different experiences and maybe even values; the definition of poverty at subsisting on $1 a day which I’m pretty certain isn’t the case here; does everyone move out of their parents’ house after graduation and chase their dreams in the city — is this how liberating adulthood can get, or is this some myth perpetrated by the chick flicks we grew up watching, at halfway across the world with no one to correct us? These are things that might make us different, but in no way do these indicate how the color of my skin makes me less smart, less deserving, less innovative and less talented. If anything, all these little quirks and parts of our ourselves make us worth knowing better, worth bringing out into the world for it to get to know and make our shared existence far more worth fighting for. Because all these things that make us different — the way we grew up, the cultural traditions we have, the parts of the world we have seen and know better than anyone else — are things that transform us from just existing to actually living, as we should be.

Without knowing what the world has and what it has left to be discovered — halfway across with the same brave hearts, free spirits and independent minds but altogether different and ultimately enriching stories and lessons we can learn from each other along the way, we would just be getting by, painfully unaware, alone and without good cause to be alive.

I hope that the overarching message of the {The And} series really resonated in me and the life I choose to live exactly the way, or if not, much better than it was originally intended to.

I hope that everyone who has watched, come across and had their hearts beating, tugging, breaking and hoping from living through the conversations and realities presented in {The And} feel the same and feel inspired to create more spaces for people like us to feel far more alive, or at the very least, well above the level of just existing.

I know now that the stories that exist and are told in this space, the stories I hope we continuously help shape, are stories that will always remind us why we do what we do. I started tuning in to the conversations of the world that one lazy summer afternoon, all through four in the morning as I cried, cheered, laughed and wrote. I now know I’ll never stop listening, never stop living — whether through the stories of others who come into our lives, or through my own adventures and the new ways I’ll never run out of seeing this world and the parts of it I’m choosing.

Joelle Monje | In day-to-day living, Joelle chooses to delve into content creation, infinite moments, two am conversations and the revolution of a generation.