When I was young, I used to love to listen to the radio, and imagine what it would be like for someone to be so interested in me and my work, that they’d ask me all these carefully selected questions, and listen with rapture, and thank me profusely for my time afterwards. It was always my favourite thing to do on long car rides home.
I come from a family of people who almost made it; a long line of close brushes and has-beens. Sometimes, I imagine all my ancestors’ dreams, hovering over my shoulders, and ducking under my skin.
When I was young, I thought that someday, the whole world was gonna scream my name. I thought I’d do whatever I’d took–I’d push all my friends away, I’d leave my family in the dust, I’d accept any deal I was given. Any chance to make my mark. To make the world a better place, I hope. Because those two things aren’t always the same.
It’s hard, not to romanticize the tragedy of it all. The tortured celebrity, who has everything in the world, who’s loved by so many people, and still hates themselves. Drowning in all that glory, and attention, and money. Honestly, it’s hard not to romanticize having, period. Not having to worry about rent and food and electricity. Knowing whatever you want, you have enough money to pay for it. And whenever someone needs help, you’ll be able to help them without a second thought. It’s a good problem to have.
I spent my entire childhood holding the weight of generations worth of dreams on my shoulders. I have grown up hungry, for something, anything more than an average life. But where that used to inspire me… now it just feels heavy, and impossible. Like I’ve already failed before I’ve even started.
I want to be happy. I want to be reasonable. I want to do everything right, I want to show the world how good I can play the game. How strong I am, how wrong they were. I want, and I want, and I want, a thousand different things, most of which I can’t afford.
I want to make art. It’s the thing that makes the world spin around, that snaps me out of my darkest moments. I love it, more than anything else. But I don’t want to be a tortured artist. I don’t want to suffer for a dream. I want to be known and adored, to have the entire world sing my praises–but the idea of people criticizing me makes me feel like I’m collapsing inward like a dying star. I feel so young–soft, and small, and vulnerable, like a baby deer at the edge of the highway just begging not to get hit.
And… shit. I think I might have spent the past three years writing about how all I ever wanted was to be at peace. Not… to give up everything, for this massive career, and more money than I know what to do with. Not to change the entire world, not to be unforgettable, at the cost of my own sanity.
Just to be happy. To have a good job, a good life, and nice things. Success that didn’t come at the cost of my happiness. Maybe that doesn’t sound like the most revolutionary idea, but trust me. It is.
Hey people! So, I don’t think I’ll be continuing Month in Photography, because it no longer feels like a challenge to me, so instead I’ll be doing photo essays! I don’t know how often these will be releasing, but I have another set of photos taken, it’s just a matter of editing them and getting them in the right order.
August, for me, isn’t a very pretty month–the air thick with smoke, the heat still uncomfortably high, the ground dry to the bone, all the flowers of May and June long-since wilted and gone. It’s not very pretty–as things shift from autumn to fall, wilting and rotting into the ground. But I think there’s something to it, if you give it a closer look. I hope I did a good job capturing that in these photos.
So, it’s been a rough few weeks, not gonna lie. I think I haven’t gotten a good night of sleep in… actually, I can’t even remember, which is not a good thing. However, I have been drawing a lot, and spending a ridiculous amount of time playing ukulele when I am not absolutely vibrating with anxiety.
But yeah. It’s been a rough few weeks, and I’m just having trouble accessing the photography part of my brain right now, because most of the time I’m just absolutely frozen with panic, and jugging a hundred different things.
I hope I’ll make another entry in this post soon.
It’s been a rough couple of… I’m not even sure. When you’re in a rough patch, isn’t it weird how time seems to smudge and blend into mush? I just feel like I’m barely struggling along right now; like I have feign interest in much of anything other than hanging out with my friends, and watching TV, and drawing–any chance I get to just not be in my head.I’ve just barely been keeping on top of things, and honestly, I’ve been neglecting this blog a lot of late.
In my head I was picturing this summer being a lot much more fun. But surprise, guess what, you can still be depressed, even when it’s sunny out! (In a quiet, grating way that just stretches on and on and on, wearing you down until the littlest things set you off.)
Normally I try to end these on a high note–but I don’t know. Sometimes, situations just really suck, and that’s where I’m at right now.
About this photo, though: I went to this sunny field where all the grass was perfectly dried up and golden, and took a ton of shots with the wind blowing the grass, to make a double exposure where you can really see the movement in the shot–and I’m actually really proud of how this turned out.
So, time has definitely flown–I’m actually writing this in August, almost September–but I actually kind of like writing these posts from a slightly removed perspective. (This is why you’ll notice there are no dates this time around; let’s say it’s artistic.)
I went on a trip to the park, and did some reading the afternoon I took this photo. I’ve been reading a lot this summer, and trying to get better at note-taking. I always used to hate nonfiction, but now I’ve been reading a lot more of it. Maybe I’m just getting older.
I can feel the summer starting to fade. It feels like it’s barely been a month, and not even that. It’s crazy, how fast time is passing. I wanted this photo to feel kind of whimsical, and loved the effect of the grass falling over the narrow pathway, like it’s leading into a secret fantasy world or something.
I believe this photo was taken on the same trip as the one before it. I loved how the black and white filter really sharpened it, and drew attention to the drama and contrast of the clouds on the water.
This photo looked a lot less dramatic originally–I took it while I was walking through the woods, and found this circle with a bunch of stumps gathered in a circle. I think someone might have been using them as seating? I’m not sure. It was kind of cloudy and dark, and I thought I could use it as a chance to play a bit with perspective for a creepier angle. I’m not sure if it worked, or how exactly it turned out like this, but I’m proud of it anyway.
I love roses–I don’t know if I have a favourite flower, because they’re all just so pretty, but roses are definitely up there–along with sweet peas and peonies. (I’ve been spending a lot of time at work helping people deal with their roses–deadheading and cutting back, that kind of thing–so maybe I’m biased, but whatever.) I love those pictures of wilting roses, I know they’re kind of cliche, but I think it’s such a cool effect. I thought the leaves accentuated that, and the beige made the pink of the flowers really pop. People act like things only start to die back in fall–but at least in my experience, things start to dry up around August. I might do a photo essay about it, we’ll see. 🙂
This has been a bit of a disappointing summer. I was kind of setting myself up for that, if I’m being honest–in May, I made this whole playlist of summer songs I was listening to every other day, and had all these pretty ideas that just never really happened, because in reality, most of what I did this summer was work–because, I mean, I had to do something. And I like that I have a job, I like that I’m strong and capable and self-disciplined. I like that I don’t have to rely on my parents if I want to buy something, and I know I’m saving almost everything I earn for a better future someday. But… sometimes, it just makes me sad that I spent most of my childhood just waiting for this. Boring grown-up stuff. It makes me even sadder that this is genuinely better that I do feel a lot happier overall than I did as a little kid–the bar is pretty low.
It makes me sad I have to worry about this stuff at my age–and it makes me sad that so many other kids have to work this hard this young just to work hard some more, and then some more, and then retire. Maybe.
I know there are a lot of black-and-white photos in this post–I don’t know, I love how late summer looks in black and white; the yellow grass and the wilted landscape. Normally I feel like my photos have a much more dramatic composition than this one, but I really like how subtle it turned out.
This last photo is pretty recent, taken just a couple weeks ago as I write this. It was a pretty warm night, and I finally managed to capture the moon on my phone camera–which is surprisingly difficult, and I had to really play with this photo in Lightroom to get it visible. I wanted to highlight the wilting leaves, and the purple/blue/pink color of the sky, for a sleepy, peaceful feeling.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the future–and I think it’s funny, how the more you learn about yourself, the more confused you seem to get. So I’ve been trying to take it one step at a time. I go back to school next week–and I’m starting my junior year of high school, which is absolutely insane. When I was a kid, I thought I’d be making a full-time income off writing by this point. I may have had a few unrealistic expectations.
I’m taking a bunch of genuinely interesting courses this year, since my options for electives have finally become available to me, and I want to really try at school this year, and try to challenge myself. I don’t have much longer left in high school, and I want to make the most of it. We’ll see how that goes–I’ve been watching a bunch of study Youtubers to try and get motivated.
I’m pretty sure this post will mark a year worth of Month in Photography posts. I might go back, and do a review, or roundup my favorite pieces of the year; that would be fun. We’ll see.
When I was younger, I loved reading love stories. I was obsessed with them–arguably because I had absolutely no experience with real-life relationships. I think that made it better; like how movies about high school are always more fun to watch if you haven’t been to high school yet.
I thought that was where I wanted to focus with my writing. I was gonna write contemporary teen romances, because that was what I was really into at the time. About complex characters, who had usually been through it, who clicked together like little pieces in a puzzle, who made each other feel like all the stuff they had gone through was worth it. I still love writing those kinds of dynamics; they’re pretty compelling. And love stories were how I learned to write. It’s a little part of my roots, I guess. (Nope, nope, that feels really dumb to say as a fifteen year old, forget I wrote that.)
Anyway–I still love writing love stories. But at some point, I guess I just fell out of love with reading them; somehow it just feels different. Now, when I read these kind of stories, all I feel is sad, because… I just don’t get it anymore. Now I am a big, tough, scary teenager or whatever, whose biggest dreams include being able to afford rent and food without working a job I completely despise. I don’t know when that changed–I guess it’s really true, that thing they say about how growing up just means giving up on your dreams.
It was a lot easier to romanticize the idea of having a high school romance when I was in middle school and never left the house. But when you’ve actually met other teenagers, the idea suddenly becomes a lot less appealing. In romance novels through, it’s not all really about the central relationship–it’s about the characters both finding someone who helps them make their life better. They have friends, and dreams that come true, and challenges that are always faced and not always overcome. I think that’s really why I fell in love with them. I don’t need a fairy tale relationship. But I think everyone needs a family, someone who loves and supports them no matter what, whether that’s a parent or a friend, whatever. Someone who fights for you, against all better judgement.
I don’t think I’ll ever give up though. Not in my heart of hearts. I think I’ve just… gotten really jaded, as a way of protecting myself. Because I’m not where I thought I’d be right now, and I’ve messed up in a thousand different ways, and I tear myself down because I’m scared to be noticed. And also scared I’ll never be noticed. I think it’ll pass.
I think I’ll learn to be soft, some day. I hope I will. I hope even half of the things I used to read come true. I hope I get to fall in love, and someday I don’t spend most of my time worrying about survival. I hope I prove myself wrong, and I stop caring what other people think, I learn to walk through the hard days, and linger in the good.
Because deep down, I still believe in happy endings. Not the perfect Hallmark movie kind, where within an hour and fifteen minutes, our protagonist learns her lesson and lives happily ever after. But the real kind–the kind that you have to really fight for, the kind you choose every day. Joy and love, hewn by tired, dirty fists. I mean, I have to–I’d lose my mind if I didn’t.
I don’t know if I’m alone in this–but I still get surprised when I glance down at the clock on my computer. You know that feeling you get in the new year, when you have to write down the date for the first time, and there are just a couple seconds where you’re like, there’s no way that’s right. It feels so clunky, and futuristic… and then you move on with your life. After a month, you get over it.
I don’t think I ever stopped doing that when 2020 rolled around.
I remember in middle school, I was writing this book series set in 2024, the year I’ll eighteen. I wrote out all my worst fears for what that year would be like as a way to process them. It was a dystopia, but the end of the world was only happening in the protagonists’ peripheral vision, as she built a life with someone she loved. And in theory it would have been awesome. But I could never figure out how to execute it, even after years of trying. I’d grown with that project, and not in a good way; everywhere I looked, all I could see was smudges of old ideas long since outgrown, that I couldn’t extricate from the narrative no matter how I tried. I can’t say I’ll never revisit the premise, ‘cause it was a pretty good one. But giving myself permission to scrap it was a very good decision. Anyway; I couldn’t fathom the idea that I would ever live to see the 2020s. I knew, logically, I’d be in the protagonists’ shoes one day, but that doesn’t mean it ever quite clicked in my brain.
But here we are. It’s 2021, and I feel like I was celebrating New Year’s Eve last week; the memory fresh and bright, and ridiculously optimistic. I know it’s been more than a year since that night, but I don’t even care, because in my mind, I am playing Monopoly with my friends and counting down ’til midnight. I am happy, and scared, and alive, the whole world spread out before me. I wonder, sometimes, what might have happened for me, should the pandemic not have happened. Would I be a happier person in the long term? Would I have been more or less successful? Sometimes, I wonder. Even though that kind of reasoning feels really self-centred and pointless, like my hypothetical success was the real loss here, which it most definitely was not. So then, I do my best to shut down that train of thought.
But every time I see that fucking date on my phone, I can’t help but feel like I should be doing more than I am. I should be some kind of international success by now, I should be preparing to publish my first novel, I should be raking in views by the thousands. At the very least, I should have a concrete plan for my future. But I don’t.
I feel like as soon as lockdown happened, I went into survival mode. I doubt I’m alone in that. Honestly, as it goes, I was really lucky; three months of isolation and that was it. But those three months were some of the worst in my life. It’s been a long time since I’ve plummeted into depression that deep, if ever. It took all my energy not to fall apart–and I went into denial. I told myself things I knew were lies, and drilled them into my head–that this was going to last forever, that my friends were good as dead. I know that sounds counterproductive, but I needed to grieve, and it’s pretty hard to grieve someone who’s technically a twenty minute drive away. I needed to rush through the stages, all the way to acceptance, and go on with my life as best I could. It was the only thing that was holding me together.
I never got closure on that year. There was no end-of-year assembly, no milestone to cross in this new, strange world turned upside down. In my mind, I am fourteen, and about to graduate ninth grade–planning to do another open mic, or maybe put on my own event that summer. I’ve just done WE Day, and I’m so proud of myself. I think everything is going to be better now.
But in reality, I’m going into grade eleven next year, which means I’m pretty close to being done with high school. And I have a job. And everyone is asking me what I want to do with my life, and I don’t know how to answer. And sometimes, I feel like I may as well be a grown-up already. But other days, I feel like I was born yesterday. I have so much to learn, so many different interests and skills to develop, and the idea of being an adult in a couple of years makes me want to hide under the covers and never come out. I’m gonna be learning to drive pretty soon! And then I’m gonna move out, maybe I’ll get a job or start a business (side note: something I’ve been considering a lot of late), and I’ll share an apartment with a friend or something, and… I can’t even fathom past that. Wow.
Ever since the New Year’s Eve of 2020, it feels like time is slipping through my fingers like sand onto the floor, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I feel faded, like a cheap knockoff of who I used to be. Is this just how my life is gonna be now?
Oh god, am I about to become one of those people who peaked in high school? I really hope not. That’s gonna be my goal now, I think. Do not peak in ninth grade. Like, I did some cool shit that year, but oh dear lord, if anyone catches me bragging about that when I’m a fully grown adult, please pull me aside and very lovingly tell me to get a life.