Don’t let me be misunderstood

I want to start out here by stating that this post isn’t intended to be directed at any one particular person. I am noting generalities that I’ve been thinking about for a while based on a lot of situations with several people.
Let me go back a ‘few’ years. When I was growing up, I tried so hard in many ways to not be noticed and not be called out for anything special or different. I had enough things which I felt were naturally different and didn’t want to show anything else. When I was in kindergarten, it was made apparent to everyone that I was left handed. I was the odd one out, as everyone else was right-handed. Also when I was in kindergarten, I had to start wearing eyeglasses. Again, I was the odd one out. And I was teased for being different in these ways.

As I got older, I realized that I think differently and approach issues from a much different way. There were questions that school teachers would ask that seemed obvious to me that no one else in the class knew the answer to but there were also things everyone else knew that I somehow could never fully understand. But due to a few things I did know when called upon, I was viewed by my peers in school as being ‘super smart’.

I couldn’t play sports at all. I played trumped and tuba in the band. I preferred music and theatre and dance and gymnastics to sporting activities. I tended to spend more time with math and computers than with anything else. Yeah, I was the ultimate ‘token’ nerd at my small high school (that was so small there was only one of everything-one ‘jock’, one beauty queen, etc.).

And then, of course, there was this thing about being gay…accepting it and acknowledging it was impossible, it seemed, because I didn’t want to add any additional things for anyone to tease me about.

I didn’t want to be different.

For many years, I tried to live under the radar, for fear that someone would notice my flaws and call me out for them.

Now, moving into the current time (or starting about 10 years ago or so), I want nothing more than to be noticed. To be acknowledged. I am proud of my differences.

I am proud to be a gay man (even though I’m perpetually single). I wear my glasses like a badge of honor, embracing my geekiness as much as I can. I know I can opt for contact lenses. I can do lots of things to change my hair line. But I won’t. If I did, I wouldn’t feel like I was being completely honest with myself and not presenting the ‘true me’ to the world.

I know I still have issues with how I communicate things at times, mostly due to the way that my mind thinks. (I hope that isn’t interpreted as an excuse-it is just a fact that I know about myself) In my mind, my sentences are structured much differently than they should be, and often a praise for someone or something comes off like a back-handed compliment or even is interpreted as something negative.

In many ways, that is why I initially started promoting my art, my photography (yes, I’m finally comfortable calling it art) 🙂 I realized that the perspectives I capture in my photographs and the subject matter I capture say a lot of things I am unable to fully articulate (and sometimes even understand). And actually, very recently, I have found that some of the things my photographs say about me are not comfortable things to deal with. But when people have told me about the truths they have seen in my art, it really has helped me and continues to help me become a better person. [that is why I constantly ask for people’s thoughts-what does my art say to you about you, what does it say about me, what does it say about the world we live in; what is the story that being told by my photographs?]

I still find myself in a constant struggle for recognition and acknowledgment, but also an insecurity and timidity in ‘putting myself out there’. Whether that is for marketing myself and my photography or if it is more simply in talking to a cute guy in a bar. It is a constant internal struggle for me to say ‘pay attention to me’ and ‘I have something to contribute’ without revealing too many of my flaws (the most basic one is a fear that I will say something the wrong way…).

[Ah, but then I write it all out for the world to see here in this blog…]

I do owe a lot of gratitude recently to a few people around me. I have one very good friend who last week articulated some of these things from his perspective. That has helped me a lot and I hope he knows how grateful I am for that and for our friendship. I’ve also heard some recent interpretations of my photography by a couple of people whose opinions I very much admire. I have found that even when I’ve tried to hide behind my flaws, my art reveals everything.


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