self-loathing and selfies

i wrote this post at the end of 2012 and finally decided to post it after reading this post on the good men project’s website.

someone asked me recently why i don’t have a job in photography since it was, after all, what my degree is in.

i first went to school for english and anthropology and while i loved the subject matter, i wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. years later, i was done with it, mentally anyway.

photography has always been in my veins. it’s something that’s always been close to my heart and i knew i wanted to learn more about it.

i started taking a couple of night classes to get reacquainted with the basics (first learned in 4th grade). i loved the smell of the chemicals and processing film and printing photos.

around that time, one of my best friends was talking about going back to school. to scad (savannah college of art and design). a lightbulb went off in me. that’s what i wanted to do. so we did it. we moved to savannah and went to school for photography.

the crazy part was that i knew i didn’t want to do photography as my job.

that’s crazy, right? why bother going to school for something that you’re not going to make into your career. it was more than that though.

it was my creative outlet. i really loved capturing that one teeny tiny moment in time on film. but the best part was having your head buried behind or bent down peering into a viewfinder, hiding from the world.

i spent my childhood wanting to hide in the corner, overwhelmed with shyness to the point of it making me physically sick. never feeling worthy of anyone’s love or attention made me cower in fear that people would actually tell me that they, in fact, didn’t love me. i lived dreading having to talk to anyone that wasn’t already my friend. even that was difficult. and truthfully, spending time with your face behind a camera was easier than trying to socialize.

i didn’t grow up talking about my feelings. you just didn’t. for me, i began to eat my feelings, stuffing them way down, only comforted briefly with food in hopes that i could bury my feelings of self-loathing forever. instead, it only made things worse.

my shyness was always there, still is, but the older i got i was somehow able to shelve it to a degree. but, the self-loathing lingered. it’s something that i have to literally fight to this day, every single day. and that’s hard – so damn hard, especially living in a world that tells you you’re not worthy unless you’re skinny and perfect. well, i’m neither of these things so it’s a constant battle. a battle that still makes me want to hide in a dark corner hoping someone kind will notice me, love me, and generally think i’m okay just how i am.

after decades of battling the self-hatred and running every time a camera surfaces, i’m trying to find tiny ounces of love for myself and hope people aren’t judging me the same way i’m judging myself in the photos. yes, i still cringe every single time i catch a glance of that familiar face staring back at me but i’m trying so hard not to critique what i see.

every phone now has a camera and every person is taking a mulitude of selfies, but at first i just couldn’t do it. i started out slow, almost never taking any, but now, i go there more often. why? i guess in hopes of some day being completely okay with the outcome; of possibly not believing that all there is is ugliness looking back at me. mostly, it’s helping me to be okay with myself, little by little, one selfie at a time.

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