Doing What You Want
Fear is my latest obsession. I went from having an abundance of it to strangling every last ounce of it until I held onto a handful to examine it deeper. The introspection has been rampant lately -- who am I? What do I want? Where am I going?
These questions are hard to ask when your life is busy and the work is staggering; hovering over you ever waking moment of your life like a D-Day countdown. 25 collections to finish. 22. 20. Even as I have been throwing handfuls of water onto the fire, the flames just keep growing.
I feel embarrassed to be feeling like this in the wake of success. Or at least that's what people tell me. "At least you're doing something you love!" That's the issue. Every day I engage in a practice that I do love, but it's the fear that keeps me from truly enjoying it. I've been working harder, not smarter. I'm not approaching things in a more efficient way. Instead I'm sort of just fumbling through things hoping it all just kinda works out. And when you're a full-time freelancer the pressure is on with little room for error.
There's a few things I want to talk about that have been bottling up inside.
Back in the Spring I sat down and wrote out my goals for the year. Around this time I was feeling inspired to change my lifestyle & the focus of my work. For a couple years now I've been focused mainly on portraiture, but lately I've been feeling a burning desire to pursue other forms of creativity. I felt an itch to experiment with more street photography, live music, and even video. For the longest time I dismissed the vlogging sensation as pure narcissism (who wants to watch people's every day life...every day?) until I explored on YouTube and found a few people whose work I truly enjoyed. It was vlogging but not the ~hypebeast~ mentality filled with EDM slo-mo sequences and an ego so wild it was bound to break through my screen and punch me in the face. I realized that I generalized vloggers (whoops) and so I wanted to try it. Since then I've made one. And I'm too afraid to do another.
Back in May I went on a tour with Backpacks and wanted to do a lot of video work with them in addition to the live photos I'd shoot every night. A lot more behind the scenes action. But all I could feel the whole trip was fear -- fear that my work was sub-par and it let to lots of fumbling and I closed myself off. The result? Bad photos. Few videos. I did take some street photos along the way that I enjoyed but it felt like an overall failure. I took a bus home from Buffalo, New York to Cleveland and did nothing but question my ability to make great work the whole ride home.
In July I began taking minimalism seriously. This has been a passionate fear of mine for about 4 years now. It started with a blogger I found on the front page of Yahoo News back in 2011. Just a guy living in his small RV traveling around and making a living by composing music on the road. A weird light bulb in my head turned on for the first time that has yet to go out. I ignore it a lot though. But in July I took it to another level. I threw out 8 trash bags full of clothes, junk, books, you name it. Well over half of my possessions disappeared in about a week. I began wearing the same thing every day. I practiced hard every day to ignore the impulses to buy more, have more, and instead put all of my time and energy into living my BEST life. That all kinda went out the window once the fear came in.
I care a lot about what people think about me. I dread first impressions. I over analyze myself in social situations. I'm very self-conscious and have low self-esteem. Those feelings are exacerbated to the absolute fullest when the fear is around. When I post my work online and it doesn't perform well on social media I take it personally. It erases my fine line of pride and confidence. I will dwell on my abilities and relevance in the world until I go absolutely fucking crazy and fall down a hole of self-deprecating behavior until I explode. My own personal supernova.
In honor of the fear looming over my life lately, I want to take a moment to share my favorite quote about fear. And to remind myself that I cannot continue to live in the past and waste my time living someone else's life. Until next time.
"I have spent my whole life scared, frightened of things that could happen, might happen, might not happen, 50-years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at three in the morning. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine. What I came to realize is that fear, that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So, get up, get out in the real world and you kick that bastard as hard you can right in the teeth." — Walter White