I’m no stranger to the concept of starting over or beginning again. I’ve had quite a bit of practice in the past, and sometimes it seems like I’ve experienced several different lives in the span of three decades. My newest tattoo reads, “Not all those who wander are lost” (a line from a Tolkien poem) and was inspired by graffiti I found while exploring Chicago one day back in college, trying to figure out what to do after graduation.
I’ve recently felt a familiar sense of aimlessness after having retired from blogger photography. Something that had once brought me such inspiration and joy now left me feeling anxious, used, and exasperated. I didn’t realize the full extent of the toll it had taken on me, until I was fully out of it. And yet, for more than a year, photography had defined me. It gave me purpose, a moderate amount of notoriety, and a creative outlet.
I’ve been fighting off a sense of resentment for allowing myself to get to the point where I felt as unappreciated and overworked as I did, without doing something to correct the situation before I reached a breaking point. But I have to continue believing that things happen for a reason, and it was just the right time to move on and make room for other possibilities.
In the moments where I start asking myself who I am if I’m not a photographer, I am reminded that in the grand scheme of things, I was just barely a photographer in the first place. Photography was a hobby that I picked up again after years had passed. I remember that in this lifetime, I’ve also been a performer, a writer, an activist– I’ve had many passions besides taking photos of other people, and now I have the time to spend rediscovering them.
Instead of wondering what to do with all of this free time now that I’m not shooting, or worrying that I’ve lost my identity in changing courses, I’m going to get back to the essentials… the core of me. My mom is going to let me have her piano, so I can play again and drown the silence of empty moments with music. I’m going to set aside time every day for creative writing and reflection, maybe finally getting around to authoring the book I promised to start if I ever found my birth family. I will find new ways to give back to the community and become more engaged in advocacy again. Passing time in the eventual renewal of all the favorite things about myself that had become overshadowed.
Allow me to re-introduce myself…