Friday, January 18, 2013
For some time now, I have been aware, with a little discomfort, that I present myself a little more reservedly online (at times) than I do in person, especially through my blog.
Most who have met me will be familiar with my energetic persona and my never-ending ability to start and maintain (with great enthusiasm) a conversation. I pride myself on being quite an outgoing, warm & friendly person, a natural "social butterfly", and do enjoy having discussions of any and every kind, on any and every topic.
Today I am speaking about something different. TL;DR: I'm about to open up to you. A lot. If long posts about life discomfort you, do not bother reading.
The reality is that whilst that outgoing side of me is ever present, I am also equally as often silent, in deep thought, analysing and reflecting. I am mostly silent because I am admiring the world as I see it, in all its little details (something I clearly give away in my photographic style), but at times, it is something deeper, raw and unexplainable. For almost a decade, I have battled an anxiety disorder (and, for a time, depression) and all the unwelcome demons that come with that. Needless to say, I am far better at managing this now than I was in the past, but last year, I had many bad days, and all of it led me to a moment of clarity.
Due to my past and present, I often spend time trying to be honest and accepting of myself. I allow my more pensive side to be expressed to the public through my creative work, only giving away small traces of it or lightly touching upon it but never giving too much away. It is mostly tucked away, quietly, save for select few who get to witness it in person. Almost as if it is an embarrassment to openly discuss that I, like everyone else, is human, through and through.
But the Internet, and more so, blogging, is a platform for sharing; for open discussion, for honesty and at times, controversy. Social media and blogging have changed how we behave socially even in real life: the idea of meeting and getting to know strangers who later become some of your closest friends (or in some cases, husbands, wives and life long partners) is no longer so strange; we are able to actively participate in a global forum wherever we are, whenever we want, however we want; all of our opinions can and will be read (and criticised) by the public. As off-putting or negative as all this openness may seem to some, it truly is one of the most amazing parts of living in the 21st century.
I feel that in recent years, I have closed off many aspects of my true self in my blogging, shooting, and therefore my creative identity. Why or when that happened, I am not entirely sure—all I know is that in being emotionally detached, I have become creatively void, unable to tap into my greatest resource (myself and my own life experience) to create truly meaningful, substantial work. I had never been so disappointed in myself as I was in the last few months of 2012.
I question why it seems that any written or visual language bordering on something visceral, personal and emotional seems to be met with judgement and disapproval from others: but then again, why should I care so much? Why am I so fearful, when others are so brave in the face of inevitable criticism? Many a creative or person I admire are courageous, bold, and relentless in their determination to push boundaries, regardless of who that may displease or shock. All the best artists in history made it because they told the truth about something nobody else wanted to speak about. Cindy Sherman, Frida Kahlo, all the artists in the Surrealist movement: they provoked honest, real, emotional thoughts, making their statement without veiling it beneath anything else to "soften the blow" to anyone who might disagree to it.
Too often, we are told to self-edit and self-censor. To be emotionally ignorant; to be detached; to keep everyone at arms' length. But what shame is there in being honest about ourselves just as we are, for after all, who else can we be? We live in a world where "ideal" versions of ourselves live in "ideal" homes, living "ideal" lives with "ideal" people. We cultivated a society where "perfection" lies only in the presence of happy faces and good days. Where success seems to be mostly defined by material values—having a high-paying job, having a big house, or being supermodel skinny. No wonder this same society has also bred many a woman and man with low self-esteem, eating disorders, identity issues and so on.
Here is, I guess, my resolution for the new year, being told to you, my audience, so you can hold me accountable to my promise: expect my blog and my work to contain real thoughts, real passion, real love and real emotion, just as we all experience every day. I am not saying that tomorrow this blog will suddenly be different, but I am determined to improve my relationship between you, the viewer, and me, the photographer, by working towards capturing (and sharing) more facets of the human life experience. I hope you can follow me in this journey of honesty.
It would be a disservice not only to myself, but to the whole idea of blogging, "online journaling", and capturing life, to hide the things that have made me the most me. Nobody, truly nobody, lives a perfect life, totally empty of emotion, darkness, internal conflicts, battle scars and challenges. Let's be clear about that.