The me that I am in this very moment is a very different me than a couple of years ago. 5 years ago, if you told me that I would find my passion and live a fulfilling life and be happy, I would have said yeah right. At age 11, a monster developed. I didn't have a direction or a solid self-esteem and that is what my monster fueled itself on. In my mind, I was the ugliest, least-worthy creature on the entire planet. Naturally, I reacted by trying to control myself and "earn" worthiness. I began starving my body and this worked…. I felt "worthy" for a while. Then I would eat and the guilt came and so did the feeling of being unworthy. Attempting to stifle my guilt, I would starve more and then eventually I would eat when I was too hungry to make it through the day. The monster would yell "you're fat! you're unworthy! you can't even control yourself enough to be thin". After 2 long years of living a broken life and trying to appease my monster, my mom found out about my secret and I went to treatment at 13 years old. I spent 3 months in outpatient and inpatient treatment and emerged with my monster stifled. For a couple of months, I got by… I enjoyed my freshman year and used coping tools that I learned in treatment and for a period, the monster was controlled. In the midst of Freshman year and the stress of it all, I lost it. The monster said "You are ugly, you have no friends, you aren't smart enough, and you have no purpose to your life. Give up". I broke down and gave in to my monster. I started cutting secretly and I was inevitably found out by my parents. I promised I would stop. I did. For a while.
The monster kept showing its face over and over in my life. At one point, I said to myself: I'm done… I can't do this anymore. I had a plan. I was going to end it. I came close, but somewhere along the way, I think God stepped in. Late at night, i was ready to let it all go. I cried and in the middle of feeling broken and hopeless, I got the feeling: it will be okay. I got up off the bathroom floor, wiped my tears away, and went to bed. The morning after that episode, I will never forget. I woke up and had an epiphany: I am not meant to end like that, there are bigger plans. . I knew that my purpose was not to be a disaster, a lost cause, or a victim (of myself).
The summer after that episode, my grandpa bought me my first camera. I took pictures of everything. It was my favorite thing to do. My friends started asking me to take their pictures. I loved it. In that moment, I felt alive. Truly alive. Over time, it became a full-fledged business. The photographs I took were the focus of my entire being. Instead of vane measures of self-worth, I turned to my pictures and developed my self-worth through the art that I created. One day, I got an email from a client that when she saw the pictures of her newborn baby… she couldn't hold back her tears because she was so moved by her pictures. My world was rocked. I couldn't believe that something I had done could mean so much to someone. My work is so much bigger that just "taking pictures"… it is capturing moments that are hard to see because the world is moving so fast. I don't aim to just make someone look good, I aim to capture their light and their essence. When I get that shot, I feel like jumping up and down and screaming. My world is complete with my camera and someone in front of it. When I look through the lens, the noise of the world fades away and I know that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
It blows me away that here I am, living passionately. I am so happy. To think, I could be in a grave right now…. gone forever with no second chances. I would have never discovered what makes me feel alive. The goal of this post was not to make you feel sorry for me and the years that I lived a broken life, but more-so to show you that change is possible. Without photography, I have no idea where I would be.
I know that life will not be perfect, but it is definitely worth fighting for. You are meant for so much more than a broken life or even a life that is anything short of awesome.