How readily do you
trust people, things, or forces other than yourself? For graphic
designer and art director Lana Molodtsova, trust doesn't come easily
— but as most artistic types are wont to do, she's using this piece
of knowledge about herself to fuel her work. In order to overcome her
trust issues, she has embarked on what she's calling her “100 Days
of Trust” project — and the results are as thought-provoking as
they are inspiring.
Molodtsova was born in what was then the Soviet Union, raised primarily in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and currently lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She describes her design philosophy as being “to create simple and elegant solutions with pixel perfection”; additionally, she notes, “I take pride in telling stories through graphic design, illustration, and layout.” But, as she comments on the “100 Days of Trust” website, she's also “a self professed control freak” who is “working hard to overcome it.” So, over the course of 100 days, she is attempting to “complete 100 activities that are going to confront my issues with trust and hopefully help me with letting go.”
While the project is running, Molodtsova has pledged to do one thing each day that not only pushes her out of her comfort zone, but moreover, does it by placing her trust firmly in someone else's hands. The activities fit under one of two umbrellas — ones that deal with emotional trust and ones that deal with physical trust — and she'll be keeping track of everything as she goes: She's recording what she felt before, during, and after each activity, as well as ranking each one on a scale of one to 10 (one being the easiest as far as trust goes, and 10 being the hardest). Molodtsova is currently a little over halfway done with the project; she's on week nine, with today being day 58. Each activity is represented on her website by a Polaroid-style image, either featuring a photograph or a doodle.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to watch — besides, y'know, the sheer guts of someone carrying out a project like this — is observing how difficult Molodtsova thinks each task will be before she does it, and how difficult she felt it was by the time it was completed. Take, for example, her very first challenge to herself: Tell someone a secret about yourself.
Before she began this one, Molodtsova thought it was going to be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. “It is such [an] intimate and personal thing to share with someone,” she wrote. “To me, it is one of the… scariest: To put so much trust in someone not [to] share your privacy and keep your secrets, secret.” But the telling of the secret itself “just happened in the moment” — and although she described feeling “a moment of hesitation” right before she told it, afterward? She noted that it was a relief — that she felt closer to the person she told it to. “It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be,” she wrote. “It came very naturally…. I don't feel scared that the person will expose me at all and I feel that my secret is safe with them.” She rated the activity as a three.
But there's also a price to pay with all this boundary-pushing and testing of oneself. On day 36, Molodtsova wrote about a task called “Not Myself”:
The task was to acknowledge that the past few months — particularly due school and the "100 Days of Trust" project itself — had been hard on her, and that she not always been her “best self” throughout it. Sorting through all of these feelings, she said, was “very difficult. I feel very much disconnected from a lot of things. And when I do not feel [connected], it becomes very difficult for me to [be] myself.” Furthermore, considering all these things didn't make her feel any better afterwards. “This makes me question this project and did I decide to do this,” she said. “This is emotionally draining and it is making me feel unstable. Why would I stir up things in myself and others? I hope there is something better at the end of 100 days.” She ranked it as a 10 — the most difficult rating she could give it.
The project has been full of lighthearted moments and moments of discovery as well, though. For example, allowing someone else to pick out her outfit for the day...
...ended up being an unexpected delight; she ranked it a two and noted, “Gotta do this again.”
And a classic trust fall, which she wasn't terribly excited about beforehand...
...turned out to be quite exhilarating. She wrote that she was glad she did it, “even though it is somewhat of a cliché.”
The project bears some similarities with Michelle Poler's “100 Days Without Fear” project; both are geared towards confronting your own weaknesses and using them to make yourself stronger. And both, I think, are equally inspiring — and as a result, I'm now thinking about the sorts of things that might make up my own “100 Days of Challenges” lists. Like Poler, I'm frequently scared of things and therefore overly cautious; and like Molodtsova, trusting others doesn't come easily. But if I can take it one day at a time — and one task at a time — maybe I work towards improving myself as a whole. We all owe it to ourselves and to each other to be the best people that we can be. So now seems like as good a time to start, doesn't it?
Images: Courtesy Lana Molodtsova