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Opinion: Self – Part One

wSelf-1686swSelf-1902swSelf-1904sAs far as I can remember I’ve lead a life that brought to light my constant failures, short comings, weaknesses, and inadequacies. I did not have strong role models around me growing up, in fact, more often than not the people I grew up around created a rather hostile and destructive environment that I’ve always viewed as a reason that pushed me to be such an inward person. If I look back and seriously consider it I can only think of 2 individuals that acted as guiding lights towards traits that resonated within me, and even then they came in rather late into my life. This particular entry won’t cover that part of the past but it goes without saying that the dearth of such figures and abundance of destructive one’s shaped a lot of problems.

One of my greater challenges in life, especially currently has been the cultivation of self-confidence and self-worth. This is a trait that guides a lot of successes in life and helps bring direction, momentum and life into just about every aspect of one’s being. Regrettably we all have different starts in life and mine was not one that provided an environment that would give birth to a natural start to those sorts of characteristics. I spent a good deal of my life with little to no belief in my own core or in my own image. I had developed dreams and goals like anyone else would but I certainly didn’t have much confidence for dreaming big or making them reality. For better or worse ultimately those dreams carved a path that involved a lot of interactions and furthermore required a value of self.

Life came to a bit of a crossroad and through a lot of struggle I managed to begin to mitigate the effects of bad habits and develop a system of beliefs that would help guide me into a better frame of mind, a healthier approach to the many facets of life, and the confidence to look into a mirror and see results that I could hold with pride.

This in turn helped develop a greater momentum for growth and study. I know the reasons I wanted to build self confidence but I didn’t fully understand the true value and impact of leading a more positive life would create. It becomes an upward spiral of sorts. The more I learn and grow the more I want to continue to learn and grow, and more over expand those horizons.

As I mentioned I understood quite well that the reach of a core element like self-confidence extends to many aspects of life. Relationships and interactions are a big part of that. We go through life interacting with people on a daily basis. We try and be ourselves while at the same time positioning ourselves in a likeable and respectable fashion. Despite all this we can still avoid a lot of interactions or at least keep them on a superficial level if we really try and as such we can certainly still coast through life with that sort of mentality, an aversion to pain and a constant fear of social situations. However, in my case my aspirations were in photography, ironically of capturing people naturally. As one can imagine, if the goal is to capture someone naturally, that requires a level of connection and understanding between photographer and subject.

I spent a lot of time placing self blame for always coming short of my goals, which quite often missed the mark significantly compared with what I hoped to accomplish with my camera. The idea that what I want to be able to do and capture has an aim that extends much farther than my limited abilities and lack of people skills certainly didn’t help the matter either. Moving to Japan had a big impact on that as a result of a culmination of a lot of new profound and guiding experiences.

I deal with new people on a daily basis and that brings forward a lot of opportunity for interactions and the chances to refine the core elements that make it all work cohesively. The added pressure, in healthy form, is that the success of what I do is very much dependent on those interactions. Beyond that, there is no room to hide so to speak. This is very much the bread and butter of what I do every day within one on one capacities and group interactions. With this understand I began to spend more time researching the topics of confidence building, body language, interactions, likability, dress, and image. Although my image of self-worth was quite small it slowly started to snowball. This really helped me to begin challenging areas of my life which I had no comfort in before. Like anything else in life it came with a lot of failure but this also helped to foster confidence after the initial shock of those failures. The fear of fear itself began to die out and was replaced as a way to build growth and confidence.

One point however that despite all the growth I experiences was still what seemed an insurmountable wall to climb was doing self portraits with confidence. Although to many it may not seem like something to give a second thought about I regrettably do don’t, still to this day, hold much confidence in this department. Regardless of this fact I was set on the challenge of sticking myself in front of camera as opposed to hiding behind it. These days I have been doing a bit of acting for a number of English podcasts here in Japan and it has pushed me to analyze the image I project and how to refine that. I’ve come to deeply understand that I cannot know my faults and strengths if I don’t put in the effort to see my myself and my representation.

Like all things in life, it’s a work in progress but something that won’t change with some serious energy being invested. As I’ve said earlier, it is a upward spiral and thankfully one I’m really in the midst of these days.

I look back now at these portraits and see a fragility that existed not long ago. It is one that is dying and being reborn as into something that will make an impact. To move forward you have to know and understand your past. I will not dwell in it but coming to terms with it has been a step in the direction of growth.

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