I Am Breaking Free is a coming-of-age illustrative memoir depicting my experiences growing up in a strict religious household; later making the radical decision to move out from my family’s home to acquire freedom and the worldly pleasure of life. I presented myself in a vulnerable position to let the viewers have a first-hand account of all my experiences from childhood to adulthood. These unforgettable experiences are only fractions of my lifelong journey because I continue to seek and reinvent my purpose and identity.
I saw this project as an opportunity to use my gifts as an illustrator to tell a story. Many of my creative influences came from reading and admiring prominent Japanese mangas like Naruto by Masahi Kishimoto, Full Moon O Sagashite by Arina Tenemura, and most recently One Piece by Eiichiro Oda. My artistic style developed further by studying references and photographs from real life and examining techniques from various artists online. My future as an artist is to continue this creative process of story-making, reaching audiences with a variety of topics that interest me.
Depicting my own experiences helped me to reflect and recognize what I feel in regard to the experiences I had growing up with my family. Living with my family, life was chaotic and unpredictable. I was confused with my own identity, feeling conflicted about where I stood in my familial relationships. Starting in middle school, my own warped perception of moral values led to me making choices that severely scarred my relationships with my siblings. I found myself not wanting to make my life an imitation of my parent’s ‘ideal me’.
Towards the end of June 2020, I formulated a plan to move out by September 2020. Once I finished paying off my car, I went on a quest to look for rooms to rent online within my budget. From July till August, I found it challenging and frustrating to find a room within my budget because they were either unavailable, rented out, or plain filthy. It was not until the beginning of September that I found a room available to rent with two other female roommates. Since I have been living away from family, my outlook on life has been improving because I have developed a greater sense of responsibility for myself. I am grateful I had a support system who offered me their advice and support while I started out on this uncharted voyage of adulthood.