2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

3 Things I’m Not Telling Myself Enough

 

Sometimes, you need to keep a mantra that you repeat to yourself in your mind. Something to help catch yourself when you’re not feeling so great. Between a chant and a statement. Something to prop you up on particularly bad days. They say that our thoughts create reality, and if that’s so, it’s easy for me to drift towards negativity and pessimism, which in turn can manifest itself in negative experiences. It’s a concept I’m starting to believe in, the idea that your thoughts create your reality. You really do manifest your existence by your attitude. In saying this, I’m not a fan of the whole claptrap ‘The Secret’ idea, where if you think of money constantly it will come to you. This kind of deluded activity can only inevitably result in further disappointment and loss. As self-helpy as it is, however, trying to think positive thoughts has been something that I have attempted to insinuate in my life. I try to tell myself things that will either calm me down and destress my mind, or give me a boost of confidence.

I keep little notes about my flat in places that I will always see: bathroom mirrors, Fridge doors, next to my desk. I’ll glance at them occasionally. They say things like, ‘I’m willing to change’, or ‘I speak and think positively’. They become familiar maxims that have in turn grafted themselves within the recesses of my mind and the shape of the words become burned into my mind’s eye. As crazy as it sounds, it helps keep me above water and to keep paddling along.

Despite all this, there are always times when I feel defeated, and that crushing sense of anxiety and doom persist. It’s not a great feeling. I can be my own worst enemy at times; it can be so easy to simply crumple into nothingness and become recalcitrant and lazy. I’m learning to be able to detect these moments and to deflect these feelings, and to really work on being aware of my moods, as well as external influences.

So what are 3 things I’m not telling myself enough?

It’s never too late, and you’re never too old

 

Being 33, I sometimes feel that I have squandered so much of my time and life. I feel as though I have wasted years of my life, and I really don’t have much to show for it. I spent my 20’s being lazy and indolent, and now I sense that I am paying for it. My workplace is full of young, 20-something go-getter types who exude youthfulness, vibrancy and a sense of excitement at life that is so far removed from my existence. I always wished to be this kind of person in life. The energy level is always high and everyone’s personality cheerful and bright. I look at myself and consider myself over the hill occasionally. I think at times that I have wasted the greatest gift that could be given to anyone, being life.

…However. As I get older, I begin to find myself meeting and interacting with people of similar age or older than myself; many of whom have changed careers, transformed their lives, and have found prosperity and success not in their 20’s but later on. It’s such a gratifying and inspiring thing to behold; to be in contact with people who have done so amazingly well for themselves, and it goes to show that it is not a prerequisite to be a precocious 20-something in order to be successful. This has in turn made me rethink that no, life isn’t over once you hit 30: in fact, I feel it’s just really getting started. I know how cliché that sounds, and that it’s *such a 30-something thing to say. But I need to tell myself more that it really is never too late, and that no, I’m never too old for anything at all. For heck’s sake I’ve just successfully mastered the art of skateboarding [grazes and scratches on my limbs not withstanding] at 33. There really is something liberating to knowing this, yet it is something that I really do need to tell myself more and more.

 

Be kind to yourself

I know that I am far to hard on myself I tend to self analyze and self criticize far too often, and far too harshly at that. I don’t know how people could not be hard on themselves. It seems innate with me. Maybe it’s a result of parenting, and a strict Catholic education. This harshness and strictness results in me easily and without any restraint belittling myself in my mind. I can spiral out of control with the thought process of ‘I’m not good enough‘, ‘I’m not worth it‘ and so on. It’s really become something that has been almost second nature, this trashing of myself. Because that’s what it really is. I’m figuratively trashing my whole existence. Like a snake eating its own tail. It may feel good for a short while, it might fill you up as there’s something intoxicating about talking yourself down, ripping your own self to shreds, yet it won’t in the long run keep you full. I guess it’s been liberating, being cruel to yourself, as it becomes a tool and justification to simply just ‘giving up’, and not working at the issue of being kind to myself.

I don’t know if this is something that you yourself, dearest reader, has ever possibly experienced. Maybe this sentiment is foreign to you. I don’t know if you’ve spent the nights unable to sleep because you’re filled with regrets about choices made or not made in life, or that you can’t help but feel inadequate, too fat, too short, too ugly. Or that during the preceding day, you think you’re an idiot for saying this, or doing that. I don’t know if because of these ugly and maligned self-harming thoughts it’s resulted and manifested itself in physical form, or mental illness in yourself. It really is like a drug, talking shit about yourself. It’s easy to do, and not so easy to stop. It can manifest itself in so many ways outwardly as well. Mannerisms, general outlook. Personality and humour. Even posture.

I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and to give myself some slack in life. I give myself time to do what I want, and what makes me happy. I’m also learning that it’s not a great idea to dwell on thoughts far too much, or to compare myself endlessly to people that I will never be, for whatever reason. I still trip up like many of us do, and have my bad days, yet this is something that I am aware of.

 

I must create.

 

As the two points above are preoccupied with the mind’s well-being in a nurturing,  self-healing and self-aware respect, this point is something that I need drummed into my mind like rote, endlessly.

I  must create.

The need and desire to make something, anything at all, to produce and be prolific with what I come up with is a definitely tangible feeling within me. Like a tendril of smoke that is somehow able to pull at my psyche, willing and urging me to continue on. An invisible string pulled by some great puppeteer in the sky looking down on me.

I always feel the sensation and need to create. Whether it be a simple line in a journal, or taking a photo, or writing a blog post, there’s this fantastic sense of accomplishment as well as release upon the completion of something that I have worked on. I don’t know what will come any of it, if anything at all. I’m not too sure I care. If I don’t do any of this regularly my mood declines sharply. Creating something has become a bulwark of life, colour and imagination against the demonstrably drab reality of work life. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my job as well as my colleagues. Yet at its core, it is a very physical, task-based job that does not give itself over to creativity or imagination. Which again is fine, as this is what I wanted in a work place. But there is really something to be said of having a side project of my own apart from day-to-day life, something which I feel I can get so much out of by putting so much in. I must create because I must put back out in the world, and not just consume. I must create because I feel this inherent need to, it is very much a part of me.

So, these are the 3 things I need to tell myself more of everyday. I don’t know how successful I am at telling myself these 3 things, yet the good news is that I’m aware.

 

What would your 3 things be?

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Sydney

[De]Motivators

The biggest motivator that has been driving me lately has been time itself, and the fact that as every day that goes past that I don’t write or contribute is a day lost. I’m motivated lately by fear. Fear now, of looking back at my life and feeling shame at myself, for not trying hard enough and not working hard enough. I feel as though I am at a point where I really have to start pushing for myself, and to continue working with what I have and to make my goals a reality. In a month I turn 33, I’m no longer a youth. The days of being an aimless lout are far behind me. I’m supposed to, according to society, have my collective ‘shit together’. It still doesn’t feel that way. The last few years have seen me try to try to work out what it is that I’m good at, enjoy doing that will make me some money. The idea of ‘finding yourself’ can be cute and romantic, but not once you get into your mid 30’s. I’m not after fame and fortune, I’d rather just be comfortable and be able to have freedom to be able to travel, or perhaps one day own my own home. I can really feel the clock ticking these days, the nerves fraying, In back of my mind my own voice urging me to write more, contribute more, to take more of a chance, and to not let slip any possible potential opportunity that may come my way.

I guess sometimes fear of the future or of failure can be an immensely potent motivator, yet I also sense that it can bring ruination. As the flip side of this is the response of ‘well whats the use’ or ‘I’m doomed to fail anyways.’ It’s hard sometimes to stay focused and on the ball and to continue on when at times it all seems pointless. This has been something that I have definitely struggled with over and over again in the past. The smallest set back will trigger my confidence and morale to collapse. I picture it like an eagle posed, ready for flight, and when it takes that first sweep of its wings something goes wrong. It’s been a game in itself to keep my confidence up and in flight, it’s been an absolute disaster when my confidence and morale plummets. It’s something which takes time to re-balance itself enough for me to get back on my feet, dust myself off and try again.

It’s very easy to feel like a failure at life. Which is how I’m feeling at this moment. I feel that I’ve not accomplished enough, I’m not travelled enough, and I’m not doing enough in my life to bring me joy, happiness and yeh maybe a little success and prosperity. Success continually seems to elude me.

It’s very easy to place yourself next to someone else and consequently compare yourself to them. They might have all those things you desperately crave. A great job. Amazing looks. A great body. Lots of friends. People paying attention to them because of these things. In my world, it is easy for me to fall into this trap of envy. I find myself doing this more and more these days, and it worries me. Being in the Gay world of Sydney, as well as Melbourne, everyone seems to have something that they’re doing that brings them something quantifiable and desirable: money, career, attention or exposure. Everyone is to my eye out partying, doing photo shoots, getting great gigs, always at fun parties dressed up in crazy outfits. I get a little bit envious and down at times. All I seem to see is other’s displaying how fantastic their lives are, which isn’t even necessarily the truth. I feel sick about myself and insecure. If I’m not comfortable in my own skin at this point, when will I be? Does the act of me comparing myself to others work as a motivator, or de-motivator? What reason then do I want the things out of life that I do? For my own wellbeing and benefit, or simply so I can feel better about myself and what others think of me?

Motivation has to come from the right place, and lately for me it hasn’t. I’ve spent too much time comparing myself to others, which is a toxic and unhealthy approach. I see people taking selfies at the parties, dressed to the nines, at the gyms showing their biceps off. All of this self-aggrandisement has an effect on others. An effect that needs to be monitored and contemplated and considered. I’ve also thought of myself as ‘too old’ for the things I want, and that I am over the hill. None of this might necessarily be true, as I have met some fantastically talented people who have come into their own later in life, and found the things that I have been searching for, yet lately this has been something to which I have given much thought to in my life.

Does everyone struggle with this, and finds themselves motivated for the wrong reason? Is it wrong to motivated through envy, or is it simply a case of the means justifying the ends?

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Manifesto 2017

It’s the start of a new year, which means it’s an opportunity for reflecting on the year ahead, and setting goals and objectives, or just in more general terms, a time for self-examining.

The idea of new year’s resolutions is nothing new [we all do it], but year by year I find myself keeping track of my year that has just passed, and I recall what I promised to myself.

This year however, I will try something different. As we all seemed to collectively feel, 2016 became a somewhat dire year. It may not have been as bad a year as we all seemed to think, but collectively it appeared that plenty of us were struggling to make it through.

Things for many of us went from bad to worse, a fact reflected by what happened globally throughout the year. Brexit, Trump, celebrity deaths et al. We all, I think, had a stinker. And we all deserve a pat on the back for making it through together.

Instead of a new year’s resolution however, I decided to write myself up a ‘2017 Manifesto’.

I’ve always loved the idea of the ‘manifesto’ concept, used by artists, philosophers, politicians as well as now corporations, and for personal use. The idea of transcribing down objectives, statements of purpose, delineating clearly the goals and ambitions and very identity of an art or political movement as per example, was something that intrigued me from an early age, from when I first learned about manifestos in Art class in high school.

The Dadaist Manifesto, for instance, was an initial exposure to the art of the manifesto as well as the original. The work ‘Manifesto‘, a fantastic video installation featuring Cate Blanchett, a logical endpoint, highlighting famous manifestos in history, all spoken by Cate Blanchett in character. The expression of ideals, virtues and identity is what has drawn me to wanting to write my own for 2017.

In my own life, 2016 has taught me that direction, decisiveness and clarity is key. A clarity of purpose and identity. Taking inspiration from above, I present my 2017 Manifesto. I’m not sure I will possibly be able to live up to this, or adhere to these tenets, but I no doubt will try.

 

 

 

Manifesto 2017

I will not be taken advantage of. My life is finite and fragile.

I will be honest about my feelings. I won’t hide behind half-truths and passive aggressiveness.

I will take my career, or lack thereof, more seriously, and give it focus and thought. In this year, I will knuckle down and work out 3 things: What do I want to do, how do I do it, and where.

I will say yes only when it pleases me to do so, and no when it doesn’t please me to not do so. I won’t let myself be swayed for the sake of a good time or fun.

I will not listen to or accept idle gossip.

I will not lead others on, or let myself be lead on by others.

I will invest my time into those who will reciprocate.

In 2017, I will surround myself with those whom inspire me, and hopefully I am able to inspire them in return.

I will create, produce and generate more. I won’t second guess myself, will output more, and worry less.

I will not think less of myself compared to others simply because they may have more followers on social media than I.

I will remember to breathe.

I will use the block button on apps more, and argue online less. Low-resolution profile images a good opponent for arguments does not make.

I will not succumb to thinking of myself or others merely as a ‘brand.’

I won’t forget to take my meds.

I will learn to like myself more, and hate myself less.

I will write/photograph/contribute to the greater world because I am compelled to do so, not for likes, comments or the affirmation of others.

What would your manifesto for 2017 say?

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2016, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts

5 Ways I Combat Depression.

 

Life for me is a constant act of coming out. Major life events crescendo with me ‘coming-out’ about something, processing it and growing from it.

The act of disclosing something to which you personally are affected; something which is up until that point such a large looming aspect of your life can be so very liberating and self-reflective and cathartic. I’ve become a big progenitor and believer in the old adage: ‘Better Out Than In’.

 

So What Does This Have To Do With Me?

 

Life is a constant revision, re-edit and reinvention. A state of flux and change, and release and changes tends to happen when I ‘spill the beans’ as it were. I inform friends, my loved ones, family and in fact anyone connected to me. I will talk to them about my problem. The act of doing this, or ‘coming out’ has always lead to such an amazing and positive outcome. So what are some instances this has happened in my life?

I’ve had two big ‘coming-outs’ so far in my life:

Coming out as a Gay man for one. This was an obviously major life-altering event in my life, which changed things in my world for the better. I was suffering terribly before this, and it took years of coaxing from friends to be comfortable enough with myself to proclaim to my world that I was gay. ‘Duh’ said all the friends in my life at the time, but it was an indescribably difficult thing for me to acknowledge my homosexuality at the time in my early twenties.

The second, and most recent, was my opening up about my mental health, and specifically informing one and all that I have had a long and difficult relationship with Depression. This in some ways was far more confronting than coming out as Gay. As controversial as this sounds, my life with Depression was far more intimate. It felt far more taboo to talk about, less dialogue about mental health or resources were available and it made me feel as though this was a subject best left unspoken about. I spent years therefore suffering and coping alone with the hopes that self medication would work.

Since opening up about my very personal relationship with Depression, and posting about it online, I’ve received so much support, as well as empathy. It’s amazing how many people out there, close friends or complete strangers, have opened up to me about their life with Depression, or people they know suffering with it.

One thing I find most intriguing and glaring is that more people than I realised suffered from Depression. Not to mention how so many individuals found it difficult to speak about this problem. It’s unseen, invisible and can be deadly.

Nowadays, when I come across someone who I can tell is having problems or opens up to me about it, I naturally feel a compulsion to help in any way possible, whether it be an ear to speak to, a shoulder to cry on or for some simple and hopefully helpful advice. I’ve also found that more and more people want to speak to me about it, and what I’ve done and still do to combat it. Hence why I wanted to write this post.

For me, Depression is something akin to fighting a long, difficult war. Every lapse into a black mood is like a battle. There are two sides, the light and the dark. The positive and negative. Yes its cliche but its the most simplified way I can summarise it. For some people it’s different, however this is how it has been for me:

Every evening before bed, or morning when I wake up, it takes an effort to fend off a skirmish of negativity and pessimism. I believe our thoughts create our life, our relationships, jobs/careers, friendships and our general attitude.

Recently after attending Psychology sessions, it turned out I was right. Our mind is composed of two parts: one side rational, thoughtful and able to make reason and logic. The other far more elemental, experience-based and rigid. Our lives are based on those experiences our elemental side of our minds react to. If most experiences are negative, then our outlook becomes negative. That very negativity has created a cage which is very difficult to unlock and escape from. It’s up to ourselves to change this and break out of the cage. Again, Everyone is different, and it takes different measures and combinations of actions for different people. But hey, it’s worth breaking out of that invisible cage.

I see others I may know who obviously suffer from Depression, yet are unable to talk and open and process it with anyone. I see that they become wound-up like a rubber band ready to snap, that there are so many inhibitions and denial which transforms into a blockage that prevents any form of dialogue to help release. It is something terrifying to open up about it. So I decided to write this post.

Again, everyone is different, but here are 5 ways, or more aptly, 5 weapons I use to combat depression.

Continue reading

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2015, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Why Do I write?

‘Write About What You Know’

 

Simple words in a simple statement. Told to me by my at times daunting Year 11 English teacher; the incomparable Mrs Rawle. A woman in her forties, with an early 1980’s feathered pixie haircut, [think Princess Di in 1983], who had a preference for long , tasteful yet drab woollen skirts, tweed blazer jackets and peach-coloured blouses. Her sternness, discipline and voice of authority is something that I’ll never forget. Her finely elegant Cultivated Australian accent would not have been out-of-place were she a news presenter on the ABC. This was no woman to take lightly. Or to upset, or not take seriously. I still recall when we had a book review assessment she was not too happy I chose to review Star Wars: Spectre Of The Past. I mean, hey, how could I help myself, it was about the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn! She had a Christianne Amanpour thing happening, and she scared the shit and bejesus out of me when we had her for Advanced English in my final form. Her word was law. She was Mrs Rawle. Her voice had a drawl.

An example of when she used ‘The Voice’, as I like to call it, she would inform us that no no no, ‘Text Types Were The Flavour Of The Month’, and that indeed, Genres were here to stay. I still recall one of my supremely intelligent classmates [who I think is an astrophysicist or some such other intimidating occupation that requires boundless brain ‘grey-matter’] imitating her low Soprano drawl impeccably. So, the one thing after all these years I took from her was that statement, ‘Write About What You Know.’

These words have echoed in my mind recently, as I wonder why I continue to write this blog. Why do I bother? Why do I write at all? Does anyone read what I write and take anything from it for themselves? Far from being the most eloquent wordsmith around, [that honour goes to the impeccable and incomparable Nic Holas, a creature of the divine who I wish I could emulate a fraction of] I continually feel as though my writing leaves a lot to be desired, is unpolished, rough and requires consistent re-editing. Which then spirals into a cycle of self-wallowing and not being productive. And eating many Maxibons. And not knuckling down and writing. So why do I indeed bother?

 

I’ve been feeling somewhat flat, and very self-reflective of late. Hence the lack of posts. It must have something to do with the fact that I continually and endlessly self-evaluate and assess myself on an almost daily basis. Crap job. Check. Minimal amounts of money coming into my bank account. Check. I feel as though the clock inside me is ticking inexorably, and that the hands and seconds are gradually speeding up. Minute by minute, second by second, I instinctively can sense the great gaping yaw of the remainder of my life calling, and from where I sit now it’s gloomy, misty and has some more Graveyard style clichés such as cobwebs and skeletons. It’s such a ridiculous First World problem. I have a secure job, a loving partner and a roof over my head. I guess it just comes back to the more and more common fact that Western culture is facing an identity/prosperity crisis. Call it an add-on effect of being over thirty and having little to no career prospects, this being my main worry in life which is turning hairs grey, adding lines to my face etc. Not to mention the life-talks with my dad which seem to be occurring on a more and more regular basis. According to him I need to move to China and focus on Photography there. Regardless of the fact all I would have to go on in Mandarin is what I learned in Year 8.

I just feel like I’m running out of time, and that now is the place and moment for me to work. Work towards something. Anything at all. I feel the compulsion to write as I want to contribute, and create something bigger than myself. And yes, maybe some form of recognition for something.

Once upon a time in my younger days I used to fantasise about joining the Army. Not for any particular reason, although men in uniform are a major turn-on but purely for the pleasure and longing to belong. To belong to an organised structure where I know my place; my objectives, have clear orders and know that in my own small part I could be contributing positively and productively to society. My dad, being a conscript Paratrooper in the Italian Army in the 1960’s imbued the positives of Army life into me as a youngster. He had so many stories to tell, and always ended his Army-days stories with a final conclusion such as ‘the Army is a good place to learn and gain experience’. This brings me back to my earlier point that today, we don’t have a notion of ‘knowing our station’ in life, and being simply content. Some excel at making waves in their lives. I don’t know if this is something inherent to one’s personality, or if it is gained through making experiences and inevitably, mistakes. He Who Dares Wins is an old saying that comes to mind.

Others are merely content to drift.

So why do I write at all? What is it that drives me to punch these words into my keyboard? I write as I don’t want to be a drifter. I don’t simply want the waves of life to direct me where it will with little or no direction, rudderless and aimless. I don’t want my life to be a series of storms interspersing long periods of uneventful calm.

I feel as though I never try just hard enough, I never put just the right amount of effort into anything to make it last and have an impact on others. Perhaps it is recognition that I crave. Perhaps I seek validation through others, and interaction with those who read my posts. I want to know that what I write has some lasting effect on one other person. This is for you.

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2015, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

When To Let Go Of Dreams.


When is it ok or acceptable to finally let go of dreams or aspirations you may have had? Is it ever? Should we strive incessantly to chase our dreams? When does it become alright to say to yourself, ‘Enough is enough’, and to alleviate yourself of a dream you once cared passionately about? Is it a healthy and liberating thing to come to that realisation, where you come to terms with the shortcomings in your life, or is it something monumentally and catastrophically detrimental [and wrong] to do?

Is it ever ok to give up?

So much of life is built around the concept of achieving success and fulfilment in our lives, as well as giving our lives purpose. We as part of the wider world can strive to reach and surpass our potential, or we can simply ‘tread water’ and float through life being content with how things are. Those who take this path are inevitably looked down upon as not contributing to society at all. Some may contribute in other ways that aren’t necessarily conventional; perhaps in the case of an artist who is contributing not by their ability to earn money per se and contributing back to an economy, but through their contributions in culture. So, we are all seen as better beings for improving ourselves and becoming the best version of ourselves we can possibly be, usually by being motivated and attaining these set goals in our lives.

But how hard and how long do you try for something before you throw in the towel?

In my life, I always wanted to be a photographer. It was my dream as a teenager to make taking photos my means for a living. I still remember when dad came home one day when I was 14 with a beat-up old Canon film SLR from the 1980’s that he bought at a second hand and antiques auction. I still remember the magic and mystery about this now benign piece of equipment, and how I desperately wanted unlock those mysteries and take pictures. I remember buying 2nd hand How To photography books, as well as joining my school’s Photography club. I dabbled with photography over the years at school, entering the school’s photography competitions held annually, and going on to do photo collages for my major project in my final year at school.

I got accepted into the College Of The Fine Arts to study Photography in Paddington in Sydney once I had completed school, yet on the advice of my father I decided to follow my sister and do a Communications degree at another university instead. Photography, according to Dad, wasn’t a career choice. It was a hobby or novelty. As an impressionable 17 year old who was fearful of his father, I took that advice. Perhaps that was my first mistake, as I didn’t enjoy the Communications course and subsequently struggled and took 2 years longer to complete than it should have. After another year or two of malingering about aimlessly and simply working in restaurants and making do, I decided to make the decision to finally study Photography. My generous parents were gracious enough to endow me with a camera [A Nikon D200, still a great camera], and started working harder to buy all the necessary bits and pieces one needs as a Photography student. It was the most creative point in my life up to that time, studying Photography at an art school in North Sydney. It was so exhilarating and stimulating having the privilege to create without bounds. I made so many friends, created so much work and gained a lot of knowledge and experience. It culminated with the fact that I met my boyfriend of six years there; something that I know would never have happened had I gone to do the Photography course at COFA years before. I think about this sometimes and think that it’s serendipity that we met. The fact is that had I not gone there to study Photography at that time, I would never have met the love of my life, and I most likely wouldn’t be sitting here writing this.

Since completing my Photography degree years ago, I’ve worked a number of jobs as a freelance Photographer as well as an Assistant and contracted Photographer. However, it never seemed to pick up or take off as much as I had hoped. Maybe I wasn’t talented enough. Maybe I wasn’t trying or pushing hard enough to get to where I wanted, which was simply success. I began to regret my choice of wanting to become a Photographer, and in the last couple of years began to despise Photography itself as an art and lose interest in it. For me, it used to be an exercise in creating worlds that are set apart from mundane reality. It was my way of recording my subconscious, my thought processes and visually getting out those flashes of inspiration that would hit me like a wave in the small hours of the morning.

 

So what happened, and what now?

I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that I won’t, and honestly nor do I want, to ever be a professional full-time working Photographer. I don’t think I’m put together right for that world. I’m not a hustler, not a pusher or a mover or shaker which I find is essential for that role and lifestyle. A great Photographer is someone active, vibrantly larger than life and full of personality and energy. Their drive, passion and exuberance is something that I lacked. As a friend once said, I wasn’t ‘hungry enough’ for it. This rang true with me for a long time. Maybe I truly wasn’t hungry enough to want success as a Photographer. This thought was oddly liberating, mainly as up until that point the effort needed for me to reach my goal far outstripped the gains from it. I could no longer afford to do shoot after shoot for agencies for little to no pay. I could no longer afford the stress of organising whole shoots for little in return, or live with the pressure that I needed to try harder and harder. As stoic and uplifting as Winston Churchill’s famous quote is,

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.’

It felt more productive for me to come to the realisation that things do not always go as planned, and to accept the reality of the situation, and to come at it from another angle, and/or find a new path to walk down. These days, writing has become my means of expressing myself. I am a visual person, yet I can also create worlds and vision with my words. My words have become my pictures, and my computer and notebooks my camera.

And you know what, I’m ok with that. Photography will always be something that I love and have an interest in, but I no longer care to put myself under the pressure and resulting pain from failing to reach where I want to go. It’s time for me to let go.

Is it ok then, to finally let go of a dream? I think many people will disagree with this, that it is indeed the wrong thing to do and like Winston Churchill’s aforementioned view on this subject, it is never ok to simply lie down and give in. Where would we be as a species had we just simply gave up whenever anything became to difficult? Still in a miasmic pool of genetic soup. I agree that in this situation one has to keep trying and trying to get to where they deserve. Determination pays off in the end. But on the other hand, I feel that it is a very Western, Americentric thing to believe in absolute self-determination and rugged individualism. I feel this attitude of one simply being able to be or do anything in one’s life is admirable, yet can also be dangerously misguided. I grew up being told I could be anything I wanted to be. It’s great and necessary to have ambitions in life. Yet the obvious truth is I could never be that astronaut, or the Prime Minister. Imagine a forty year old fervently believing and endeavouring to become that astronaut after years of being an accountant or working in marketing for instance. It’s a practical impossibility. As much as I’d love to lead the country in the right direction, or blast off to space, I know that this isn’t going to happen. Sometimes, it seems preferable and feels better to be told that a goal is not realistic and that it is better to find an alternate avenue. It can be supremely liberating to come to this realisation. Which is where I’m at now.

So for me right at this moment I feel it’s ok to give myself a break and let go of an aspiration or dream, or at least change it; make it more manageable and realistic and therefore enjoyable. Without enjoyment what is the point to anything? The important thing I’m finding as I get older is that dreams, goals and aspirations change, evolve and are in flux. Much like we do as people. We are constantly changing, growing and become a new version of ourselves. They say a person’s skin is completely regrown in a seven-year cycle. I’m beginning to believe this pertains to the mind and soul as well. We shed our old selves, as well as our old selves aspirations, thought patterns and dreams. To be replaced by fresh new ones. As long as there is something in your life which is good for your soul, it is a liberating thing to let go of a dream, yet an even better and healthier thing to gain another in it’s place.

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How To Stay Creative.

 

As someone who craves creating things, whether it be taking pictures, writing or just doodling in a notebook, it can be so frustrating to have that creativity simply stifled by ‘day to day life’.

It’s so easy to be completely caught up in the mundanities of life like 9-5 jobs, house chores, or other commitments, that if you’re like me and you are someone who lives to create, it can be a job in itself to keep on track and continue doing what you do best: giving something singular and special back to the world.

I’m reminded of what a teacher at my college where I studied Photography once told me. It went a little something like this: ‘Those who work 9-5 jobs and work in banal places with no excitement have extraordinary dreams, just like the rest of us. The difference with people like you and me is that we can make our dreams a reality, which is turn salves and relaxes our minds and let’s them run wild and free. If you don’t let this out, then your mind loses hope and your life becomes pale and meaningless’.

This is something that really stuck with me from my days at art college. Besides how to take good pictures, it is an ethos and philosophy that has a valuable grain of truth to it, being:

YOU MUST CREATE.

A big reason for me personally, as one of those much-maligned ‘Creative Types’, for my at times dark periods of getting down and out is when I don’t make something, write something or let my thoughts and imagination free in any way shape or form. I feel like I need to be constantly stimulated or responding to something, or otherwise I will end up wallowing in a non-productive, destructive cycle of non-action and self pity.

It’s one of my difficulties in life to stay single-minded, focused and determined, or even inspired on the one thing. Like most Aquarians, we are a rather transient bunch. We love novelty, newness and anything exciting and different. We are conceptual creatures, not bogged down with realities of situations. We aren’t perfectionists, like my Libran boyfriend, and nor are we hard-headed like a Tauran. We tend to simply go with the flow, and let life, and inspiration take us where it will.

I have a few smaller projects that I try to work on, such as this blog, as well as series of images that I’m working on with the end-goal of an art show. It may not be much, but it’s enough for my creative appetite to satisfy itself now. Yet some days it is so hard to gain the traction and motivated required or even the inspiration needed to move ahead with any creative endeavours.

So what are some good, tried and tested ways to keep your creative energies up and flowing?

1: Procrastination Is The Enemy.

It takes me so much time and energy just to start something, and even more time and energy just to keep it going and afloat, and yet even more to finally finish a project. Procrastination can be something that is just so easy to fall into, and if you’re like me you are a veritable professional procrastinator. I can spend hours and days wasting away watching episodes of Game Of Thrones, Adventure Time and yes maybe some Star Trek Voyager. Or mash away on your Ipad playing some silly game for hours. It seems like there are so many distractions that can lead you astray, and staying focused and motivated can be such a job and occupation in itself. Especially if you are a gadget lover like me. So how do you fight procrastination? I find that like anything else worthwhile, it takes practice and persistence to kick the habit of procrastination. Minimise any and all distractions that may present themselves to you, ie any digital devices and pieces of technology. It’s increasingly difficult to sit in front of your computer for instance and edit photos or write even just for a short time without heading back to the warm bosom of the internet and social media, so a good idea may be to unplug your Wifi, turn the phone off, and leave them somewhere rather inaccessible. Or if you have a loved one or friend nearby, maybe give them the wifi modem for a couple hours!

Don’t have a Zero Day.

What’s a ‘Zero Day’? A day where you do nothing productive. Zero. This point correlates to the first one, being time is the key. For me, I try and do at least one thing productive in the day, in any way or shape. If I don’t I tend to feel regretful and a little spiteful at myself for being lazy. Maybe write in a journal for a few minutes? Or tie up any loose ends that may need resolving. It takes so much of a load off your shoulders, and it feels great to have accomplished even that one thing to get you closer to where you need to be.

Make lists of ideas.

I love, love, and actually adore making lists. It once got so out of hand that I had a list for lists I was going to make. I love the hierarchical nature of list making, as well as the de-constructional element. You’re breaking down tasks to their most basic, yet it’s also rewarding the accomplishing of these tasks by crossing them off. In creative terms, lists could be compiled for ideas, concepts, inspiration or even mundane bitsy things that can help your project. They’re easy to do, some might say fun [ok maybe its only me who would say they’re fun], and they’re a great way of remembering things. Write one now and you’ll see what I mean.

Take a Break.

There’s nothing more helpful than taking a break from something which has become tedious. Go for a jog. Have a cup of tea. Call up a friend for a chat. Heck, go masturbate, it feels good and you’ll release tension. Another method is putting your work in blocks. If you have a day or half day, maybe create a schedule like back at school? They did that for a reason. For instance, I try to break up any work that needs doing by working for an hour, having a half hour break, then going for another hour. This means my mind doesn’t get completely numbed by what I’m doing, and stays fresh and stimulated. But just make sure you get away from the computer!

Keep your workspace clean.

This goes without saying. A nice, neat workspace with some slight personal embellishment [Yup, I have a wall full of photos, and magazine clippings] really can help your situation. I love the idea of things having their place; I always get reminded of an episode of The Mighty Boosh where the rather daggy Howard runs through his systematic, thorough yet awfully OCD organised work counter, which he dubbed ‘Stationary Village’. The paper clips live in Paper Clip Castle, the Blu Tac live in Blue Tac Garden, and the Sellotape lives on the Sellotape Tree. It pretty much sums how I like to keep my workspace. Well. Maybe not quite as anal but hey it does help having things in their right places. I share a desk with my lovely and ever so dashing boyfriend. Whom always looks sharp, well presented and always dapper in public. He always gets way more likes on Instagram. Yet everyone assumes that me, slightly scruffy, rough round the edges Alex is the messy one. I’ll be sure to post an image of our shared desk. It’s almost like Berlin during the Cold War. My side of the desk tends to be ordered, neat, tidy and de cluttered. Adrian’s is a jumble of wires, random bitsy things such as bits of loose papers which I’m far too scared to throw out as I’ve already once been in trouble as one of these tidbits of paper had some monumentally important information scrawled upon it. I tend to thrive when things around me are neat. My mind works at a better pace, is far more clearer, and much more open to inspiration. It’s been proven that being in a neat and tidy space decreases depression, which is yet another reason I try to keep my workspace neat.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up.

Self-criticism is actually great. It can be an impressive motivator, especially for someone who is quite perfectionist. Or, conversely, it can tear down any progress or inspiration, and leave you back where you started. Being self-analytical on your own work can then be such a double-edged sword, that it’s worth remembering to give yourself a break. People are always overcoming blocks of inspiration, or obstacles that stop them from succeeding. It’s sometimes nice to review any and everything you have done and give yourself a little pat on the back. It’s all too easy to hate what we’re creating. Especially when having worked on a project for an extended period of time.

These are just some things I do to keep myself motivated and inspired. Some things may not work all the time, but give it a go!

How do you stay creative in life?

 

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