Who is Marah?

Disclaimer: this post is longer than most, but it’s also my most important post I’ve ever written or will write so it means the world that you’re here reading it. Thank you.

Over five years ago, I started my blog. I don’t think I ever had a clear direction, certainly not from the beginning, but I was working in an office five days a week and I was bored. Fresh out of college and unsure of what was next, combining two things I enjoyed, writing and photography, seemed like a natural option for me. After spending hours at work looking at bloggers like Song of Style, Sincerely Jules, and Happily Grey (who was still fairly new at the time), I thought, “Now THIS! This looks fun. This is something I could do everyday.” I’ve always had a fear of living a plain life. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make sure that didn’t happen.

I created a website basically immediately, investing what little money I had into a .com and a wordpress template. Luckily, marahcar.com is not a name in high demand and the domain cost me a total of about $13. Go figure.

MarahCAR actually represents my full name. Marah Catherine Annice Rice. M.C.A.R. MarahCAR. Many people that follow me still don’t know this or they just assume car is my last name. I always felt like having 2 full middle names made me unique so this name was something I created to represent that. Plus my twitter and instagram accounts were already using this identity I had created, so it made sense. 

I had decided my blog would be an affordable fashion blog, mostly because I had no money and also because I wanted to show people that you didn’t need a lot of money or brand names to put together cool outfits.

My first year of blogging was one of my favorites. I spent hours every evening creating content and writing blog posts. I would come home after my 9-5 everyday and have my little brother, who was 16 at the time, take photos of me with a point and shoot camera and I would share the outfit details and my thoughts about it on my blog. I was obsessed. I have always loved to write and always wanted to do photography and finally I felt like I had a creative outlet, for probably the first time ever.

You see, growing up I think I struggled with the whole idea of creativity. If I couldn’t paint a masterpiece or write a song (as my older brother could), then I wasn’t actually creative. I assumed I just wasn’t born with “that gene”.

My mom was an interior designer when I was younger and still to this day, she is one of the coolest people I know. When she taught design classes at a university, I would go sit in the back of the class with my journal and I would write about how cool the girls were in her class. They were going to design and decorate houses. Maybe I could do that too one day. It seemed like a far-fetched idea considering I couldn’t draw, had few creative ideas, and spent all of my time playing sports, but hey, a girl could dream. If there was anything I was good at it, it was that. Dreaming.

I was in my own head a lot. I got scolded for never smiling or for always being so uptight and serious. If you know me now, you probably don’t believe any of this but it’s true. I had a lot of feelings and was extremely sensitive but had created this outer shell with an “I don’t care” attitude because I realized early on that the sensitive girls were easier to pick on. We gave a reaction. We were like ticking time bombs needing to defend ourselves. I spent 6th-10th grade defending myself, my thoughts, my heart, my actions and by junior and senior year, I became unrecognizable to myself. I was moody with a bad temper, often getting in trouble during sports games. Many people don’t know this, but I actually had a college coach decide not to sign me because she saw one of my blow ups. 

In reality, I have always had a kind and caring heart, but I often felt as if those things were laughed at or taken advantage of. The mean girls got the boys, the popularity, and were never criticized. I only saw one way to be and if I wasn’t that naturally, I had to become that.

Yikes. Middle school and high school were rough.

Most all of my time and energy was put into sports. This was my way-in. My ticket into the crowd that couldn’t be denied. Being from a small town, there isn’t much room to be different, even if that’s what you so desperately desire. 

What’s funny is I always knew I wouldn’t be an athlete forever. I wasn’t good enough and didn’t have the dedication or drive to make it happen. I had no clue what I wanted to do in my life but I made up plenty of scenarios in my head, and surprise surprise, none of them consisted of a standard 9-5. 

In my head I was an actress that lived in LA. I was a fashion student in NYC that would design her own line. I was a singer, photographer, writer. Although none of these were skills I acquired at the time or pursued, I know now that my God given dreams and desires were centered around creativity. It was evident even then.

I dreamed of traveling the world and drinking coffee in cafes in Paris. I dreamed of countryside homes in Italy where I would write all day next to an open window. I dreamed of photographing the people I would meet and the places I would see, hoping to keep the memories alive forever. My head was a safe space for my dreams and even though I was from a small-town full of farmland in central Kentucky, I would be one of the few to leave. I was sure of it.

I ended up with an academic and partial basketball scholarship to a small private college in Eastern Kentucky. College had struggles of its own and being a full-time student athlete was not easy.

I decided to major in Mass Communication. I had taken one broadcasting class my senior year of highschool and got to help put together a newscast and really enjoyed it. Mass Comm was about the only creative major at my school and would cover journalism, media relations, photo and video courses, producing and directing, so if anything, I would get to learn a lot of cool things.

It was here in the basement of one of the oldest buildings on campus with a professor who sat criss cross applesauce on top of a table to teach us, that I started to feel the most at home.

We were the mass comm crew. We were small and all a little bit off kilter but we were a team. I think what I loved most about this team is how different we all were. Some were athletes, some were tech kids, some were from other countries and other ethnicities and we came together to share ideas and to create. 

Although I still had basketball, I began to see the possibilities of being seen as more than an athlete and I started to notice the longing for wanting other people to understand and see the parts of me that I had hidden away for so long. 

For the first time in my life I was creating and the sense of pride and joy I felt for putting things out there that I created was above and beyond any sort of fulfillment I had ever felt from sports. 

I graduated top in my college with honors of bachelor in arts with a much better attitude while playing sports and decided my next step would be to get a job in the sports journalism realm. 

After the hard goodbyes of leaving college for the real world, I found myself living back at home with my parents, working an office job and trying to figure out my next steps.

I was applying for sports media jobs that I acted excited about while secretly praying I didn’t get them. I was scared because I was starting to realize it’s not what I wanted while not knowing what it was I actually did want, or that’s what I told myself anyway.

It’s funny because I think we often know what we want but we allow fear to become a maze of confusion that traps us in, leaving us lost, when in reality the exit or way through is just around the next turn.

During this time I had gotten into looking at people on Instagram and reading blogs and online publications. I have always loved magazines and this was like a magazine that updated daily. I was spending hours on Instagram and tumblr and individual blog sites and was so inspired by these people creating art and sharing it with the world. The blogging industry wasn’t anywhere close to what it is now and the term “influencer” was not yet coined by the millions of people now living under that umbrella today. 

I remember thinking often about our comm professor, Dr. Marley. Yes, she is the one that sat on top of the table with a coffee in her hand every single day while teaching. She is also the one that truly made me feel like a creative and made me feel like I had something to offer to the world for the first time in my life. I remember her saying in class one day, “don’t pursue anything you don’t want to spend time on. Look at the things you enjoy watching, listening to, speaking about. Those things interest you and matter to you. Those things are worth pursuing.”

Here I was applying for jobs in a sports media career when sports media was the last thing I spent my time learning about. Something didn’t add up.

When I took a true assessment of how I liked to spend my time, I realized I enjoyed following along with people's lives. I loved keeping up with writers, speakers, actors, musicians, who were more than just a character. I had access to these people and their personalities through social media and I wanted to know their stories. I was intrigued by women (and some men) all over the world, LA, NYC, PARIS, who were working in a creative field or industry and were expressing themselves through their art. 

I wanted to express myself too. I needed to express myself.

The problem is I had spent years forming myself into who I thought others wanted me to be. Marah, the athlete. Marah, the straight-a student. I wasn’t sure who I was or who I even wanted to be. I had mimicked people for so long. I wanted to do all of these different things, which is okay if those things don’t actually define you. But when you become what you do, you place so much value in what you do instead of who you are. When something doesn’t work out or something fails or doesn’t get the response you wanted, your identity crumbles because everything you are was riding on what you produced.

As life brought me to Atlanta and my world was flipped upside down, I became a Marah that was in search of her identity through what she could create. I was heartbroken, newly single, depressed, with an extremely unhealthy relationship with my body and food, but on the outside, I was a fashion blogger. The majority of Instagram and my blog never saw the bad days as I worked tirelessly to maintain the facade that I thought was authentic at the time.

This is not to say I’m not thankful for my former blog and what fashion blogging gave me. I think it is through those years and that outlet that I am even writing you this today. It lead me into a creative industry and career I didn’t even know was possible and it gave me some of the best people and friendships and opportunities. 

But after blogging for about three or so years and having a creative identity crisis at least once a week (where my enneagram 4’s at?!?), I realized that this type of platform and content was no longer fueling me. I was trying to fit into a mold I had never been meant to fit and I think there is a good chance I had been trying to do this most of my life.

When you have an anxiety attack getting dressed in the morning because you feel like none of your clothes are instagram worthy, when you look at yourself in the mirror and sob because the beauty standards you see is so unrealistic, when you have a breakdown before and after every instagram post that causes you to spend hours questioning if it was authentic or if it will get good engagement, you finally realize something has to change.

This is not who you are or who you were created to be.

And if you’re there today, I want you to know there is hope. The real you is still there it just might be buried beneath all of the media influence, beauty standards, and your own self-doubt that has built up over the years. 

I had become someone who was dressing for other people. I was spending money I didn’t have. And I was trying to portray a lifestyle that wasn’t true to the reality I was living. 

This realization and transition is not something that happened over night. It was the result of many nights of tears, of feeling unseen and misunderstood. It is many posts of questioning myself and doubting my creativity. Most importantly, it is the result of an ongoing and growing spiritual relationship with Jesus and learning to trust in and believe the identity he created for me. It is in Him I even find the freedom to write this story.

So now here we are. Present day. Where I still too often struggle to fight the noise and comparison trap that is social media. To where I daily have to remind myself that not only do I have something to share, but that I have something worth sharing.

This isn’t to say fashion won’t be a part of my Instagram and blog. My goal is to actually create natural fluid content about all of the things I love and for none of it to feel out of place. I think that fashion is a creative part of who I am, I just no longer feel the need to place my entire worth and identity into the label of a fashion blogger.

I am a creative and so are you. The beautiful thing is we all are.

I am a creative that wants to write and share things about my own story that gives people the peace and comfort to create from their own stories and experiences. I want to write words that find homes in your hearts and that heal wounds you didn’t even know were there. I want to help brands create stories that represent who they are through imagery and design.  

When I get down to the core of all I do, to inspire has only ever been my true reason. My true why. I want to make people feel at home, to come as they are, so that in turn they can go and do the same for others. I want to inspire authentic creators to authentically create. 

So while I continue building my portfolio, helping others create and write their stories, I will also be here, continuing to write my own. 

For the first time in a long time, I no longer feel trapped. I no longer feel unsure about the Marah God created. My purpose is to wholeheartedly be exactly who I was created to be and encourage others to do the same. 

You’ll be seeing a lot more of me here, I hope that’s okay.                  

xx, Marah

Wordsmarah rice