“Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure.” – Sylvester Stallone
I’m not really sure what got me started on it, but lately I’ve been really into stories and art that have to deal with reality bending situations and psychological thrillers. I’m sure it’s a good culmination of things; Doctor Strange just came out (which is reality bending in itself as I never thought I’d see a film adaptation, let alone a good one) and I’ve been watching Ghost in the Shell with Paprika and Perfect Blue still on my watch list. Also, humorously, while waiting for time to tick by on a slow day at work I stumbled upon Time Dilation in Wikipedia and that set me off on a whole roller-coaster of thoughts about how time is relative and how people can perceive the same amount of time at different speeds but we would never be able to measure the difference. Now that I’ve gone off on a tangent let me bring it back to how this relates to anything. This “culmination of things” I’ve been interested in has really begun to leak into my photography and I’m starting to bring to life some of the ideas I was too afraid to even try before as well as new ideas that have come about inspired and influenced by this “culmination”.
It may have been said many times and beaten to death by now, but I’ve come to find truth in the idea of surrounding oneself with positive people who are willing to help lift you higher, regardless of what’s in it for them. Of course this doesn’t mean surrounding yourself with Yes-Men, but with people who genuinely wish you to succeed. There’s enough people out there that will say whatever you want to hear because your end results play out in their favor, even in some minuscule way. But as soon as that changes, they’re no where to be found. What you want to hear isn’t always going to be what you need to hear. I know these last few sentences sound like some of the most basic advice off of some tumblr “inspirational quotes” page, but they are legitimate truths that may just be the something that someone out there needs to read right now.
With that said, I’d just like to lead into saying that the constructive criticism and positive encouragement from new and old friends alike have really inspired me to continue on as an artist creatively the way I’ve wanted to but could not in the past. Less than a year ago I was feeling extremely uninspired, imagining that I had come to a plateau with my photography skill and creativity. I had convinced myself that it wasn’t possible for me to grow any further and that trying anything new or putting effort into building on what I already knew would result in scrutiny of my work by critics that probably never even existed. I was so caught up in the what-ifs and over analyzing whether people will “like” what I produced that I had forgotten why I enjoyed it in the first place.
It’s funny how good vibes and good people kind of have a snowball effect to them. The problem is you need to be willing to let them in to get it rolling in the first place. There are always people willing to listen and help, especially when it comes to your closest friends or family. Sometimes it can even be someone you just met. For me the problem was always the feeling that I couldn’t ask ‘them’ for help. What would they think of me? Would they think less of me knowing that I needed help? To me, my photography was me. It was from my heart and it was a literal representation of my point of view. The amount of pride and overthinking seemed to have twisted what was reality and I realize that now. I was letting the thought of others’ judgements take control over and stunt my creative ability, while I had close friends willing to encourage me and help me who I decided to shy away from for fear of judgement and criticism, all the while falling deeper into a depressive state of mind about it all. You could say that it was a pretty bad culmination of negative thoughts.
If not for the few friends and family that really encouraged and motivated me in each their own way, I probably wouldn’t have imagined how much use my camera would be getting nowadays. In fact, I wouldn’t even have upgraded to the camera I have today without the support of my own wife, during a time when we could barely afford it, she believed in me when I barely believed in myself.
Now that you’ve hopefully read through the last few paragraphs of what can best be described as my “first world problems” and “millennial complaints about how hard life is as [insert artist type here]”, what I’m really trying to get at here is that, yes it’s true that having the right kind of people to support you and allowing yourself to be free of your own limiting anxieties and assumption, although easier said than done, is amazing and can change your whole outlook on life. However, it really isn’t enough.
What I’m really asking of you reader, may sound like quite the opposite of self motivation. The next time someone really asks for some advice, thoughts on their own work, or just someone to confide in, do your best to send a positive message while not just telling them what they want to hear. Tell them the truth. Go the extra mile and support their work. Start someone else’s snowball effect.
To think that a culmination of good vibes and selfless acts could promote even more positive energy and kindness.