Why I Stopped Taking Photos

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I want you to think about that one special skill you have. Something that makes you you, something you can’t live without. Everyone has one. It could be you’re a natural and talented artist or a skilled athlete. You could be a math genius, a captivating storyteller or a gifted actor. Everybody has that one thing they’re good at but some people haven’t yet discovered what it is yet. Ok so, think about your job. You’re good at your job; otherwise you wouldn’t even have it. You could be a graphic designer, or maybe you’re just really really good with people so work in sales. Or maybe you just do something basic that isn’t really that demanding and is actually enjoyable. Now what if one day you couldn’t do your job or you lost that one skill that everyone knew you for. It made them look up to you. It was the one thing that made you get up in the morning, it was all you lived for and now it’s gone. That happened to me.

It just took one night of forced motivation to make myself do something I wasn’t feeling up to and I ended up screwing up so much that I can’t even stand to even try again. OK, I’m going to stop being vague. I’m a band photographer. I’ve been taking photos for 11 years. I’ve been capturing rock moves under the colourful and dancing stage lights. I captured emotional moments that are easily missed from standing back in the crowd. A missed moment that now exists forever in a million ordered pixels. So how could I one night mess that up on a monumental level? And why is it keeping me from ever trying again? Am I so scared of failing I’ll never try again? Well, yes. Failing hurts. But this isn’t just limited to my band photography, it pervades to every part of my life.

This all started when I lost my job after just working there one day. It was the most basic and menial job that they usually give to immigrants who can’t speak fluent English. Those are the only jobs I can get. The jobs no one else wants. And I can’t even do them. My communication is stunted by my autism. My energy is exhausted in a matter of hours because of chronic fatigue. I feel like my whole body is falling apart and I’m feverishly and hopelessly trying to hold it together. No doctor or scientist can restore it to what it used to be. Am I overreacting? Maybe, but sometimes it feels like no matter what I do to help it it won’t be enough.

So lately I’ve been in a state of apathy. I don’t care about getting another job, mainly because I don’t think I can take being fired again. I’m not talking of disappointment but something far deeper on a psychological level. I basically gave up on my goals. For years I’ve just been trying to reach both short and long term goals but now it all feels like it’s for nothing. I get moments of motivation and creativity but it doesn’t hang around long enough for me to really do anything with it. And I’m not a person who can exist without creating something or making something out of myself.

I’m still trying. I’m still planning to overcome this fear of never taking the same quality photos again. I mean, that seems like such a small thing but the thing is it’s my only skill – no, not only skill – it’s the only skill that I can actually do with the energy and motivational limits I have. I’ve started to think about working on screenwriting too but the same issues come up. It’s a project that relies on self-motivation and organization. It takes commitment. And the final pitch takes high level communication skills, and you have to accept failure over and over again.

An Introduction

Help! They Want Me To Socialise is a perfect coming together of my mental health issues, my extreme dislike of the mainstream and my most relatable feature: just your common socially awkward geek with a love of comic books, science fiction and videogames.

It’s the perfect description for me and tells you all at once everything you need to know about me. I’ve had a lot of blogs over the years but they’ve been about very specific things and I could never deviate from a certain theme. The problem is I constantly think up things to say that I can’t condense into a couple of paragraphs. They come and they go and even though they kept me up all night or entertained me during the day they never get written down. What a waste of a couple of hours of thought!

This blog will mainly cover these topics:

1) Mental health advocacy; autism, ADHD, bipolar and anything else I feel like talking about. I need a place to post my annually autism and ADHD awareness day/week/month posts because my Facebook friendslist is not a big enough audience to reach. I’ll try my best to not make the posts too personal and emotional and I’ll try to use them less as labels. I have so many diagnosis’s and suspected ones that jumping between the labels when they suit me seems kind of ridiculous.

2) The journey of writing my first screenplay, which I should be spending time on now but after four days of failure I started to take a break from worrying about how much of a damn struggle it is to write.

3) Some passing thoughts about video games. I study them while I play because at one time I was doing research for a science fiction novel that never got completed and then I just sort of became addicted to them. I also want to continue my article series titled ‘In Defence of the Videogame’ that responds to criticism about them being mind numbing and creativity stifling to children.

4) Band photography. I‘m most known as a band photographer and despite this depressing three month break I might just go out one night and take some photos of bands. I’ve been taking photos of bands on and off for about 10 years. I’ll share some photos here and might attempt to write a live review. I’m a big supporter and contributor to the live Australian music scene. So, it makes sense that the next two gigs will be headlined by Jimmy Eat World and AFI.

5) Everything else. Any thoughts I need to let loose that I can’t explain in less than three pages.

Now don’t be misguided by the blog’s title – I do like to socialise – but I find it both confusing and frustrating. Saying ‘hello’ isn’t so hard but I have never once in my life followed that with ‘how are you?’ and I keep trying but nothing comes out. Then, I have to try and keep the conversation going when all the answers I end up giving are either ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know.’ Then I say things without thinking which isn’t always the worst thing for me. It’s not my ideal way to communicate though because I want to say what I’ve given great thought. The next frustrating part of socialising for me will have to be the fact that I don’t always find a lot of people interested in what I have to say. That’s not a lack of confidence on my part – you’ll find I can be very passionate when talking about my interests and when people dare to mock me for liking something deemed too nerdy to talk about, I’m not embarrassed at this so-called faux pas – I’m enraged.  These topics are my life and how dare people just stand there looking smug as though I should know that they are too unpopular to talk about and be appropriately embarrassed by bringing such a topic up. I disagree with such a notion and wish people would give me a chance to talk about such things and they’ll find out my communication style changes from awkwardness and appearing to not to feel confident about anything I say to self-assurance and with so much confidence it borders on arrogance. OK, I am arrogant at times. I admit it.

In short socialising is tough on me and I hardly ever walk away feeling satisfied. I seem like I’m easy to get along with but I keep my true feelings hidden. Fact is, socialising to me is a waste of time and energy and I really only do it for two reasons: 1) to practice my skills and 2) to make people happy. Perhaps I’ll add a third: to better develop the characters in my stories. I at one time wanted to understand human social behaviour but what I found I didn’t like and I wouldn’t mind being clueless about it again.

I love my friends even though I really only get along with one really well but I just don’t think I get enough out of it. I at times need to be intellectually stimulated and so go to my books and then think over what I’ve learned and then I write about it. Not even watching movies or writing a screenplay is enough stimulation for me.

I don’t really understand what so many people get out of socialising. Whatever it is it’s something I’m missing – as in missing the ‘want’ of whatever this thing is. I’ll do the social thing occasionally but I don’t require it to be happy. In fact, I’m happier when I’m not doing it because when I do socialise I tend to get pissed off with people. Although, I need to socialise enough to not regress those few skills I already have and futilely try to build on.

Maybe I’ll post about this issue more. It certainly would make the blog title more relevant.

So this is me. This is finally a blog that goes over every area of my life. I hope you like what you see here.

Stay tuned.

Shadro