Portraits in San Diego #WorldMentalHealthDay
My mom is one of the few people I trust to take my photo because she’s a better photographer than I am, and she’s never even had any artistic training. I convinced her to use my 50mm lens to do portraits with me in San Diego last weekend. San Diego is the most beautiful background ever. It was my first visit and definitely surpassed my expectations!
I’m so awkward in front of the camera that my face is always tilted slightly away in photos. I only recently noticed it, so I tried to work on that a lot while posing for these. Somehow my eyes can be looking at the camera but my face is in another direction. Sadly I still did that in most of the photos, so they’re not posted here. In both these photos my body is tilted instead. Sigh.
The amazing summer weather in San Diego gave me a chance to mix and match some new outfits. I purposely put on my new floral top with pink shorts so I could pose in front of this pink wall (this one’s taken with my iPhone). I recently also bought pink sunglasses, so it was perfect. I told my mom to cut the photo above my ankle though, because I’m actually wearing completely unmatching sneakers. My ankle is still newly healed and I’m super paranoid about risking new injuries.
A few weeks ago I went to a hair salon to correct the bleach disaster left from dyeing my hair purple three times, and walked out with an ash-blonde balayage. I didn’t start off this year expecting to ever go blonde – since I used to believe my skin is too dark for the color or that red is the only color that will ever look good on me. However, I think blonde has somehow settled into becoming my color. It’s probably because the Californian sun brings out the true color so well! I love how blonde hair goes with lighter outfits, which is more in style here than in New York (trendy black forever).
I shared all these photos of myself for a reason. Being in San Diego in a more relaxing atmosphere gave me time to think. I thought about how living in San Francisco masks my struggles and hurts so well that I’ve started to forget why I’m here. I realized I need to refocus the direction of this blog towards wellness and mental health.
Back home I often heard that I have a curious smile and demeanor, but I find it less true now. In the past few months due to stress and being sick/injured, I’ve been less attentive to how I look and present myself. I’ve had less motivation for dressing up and creating a healthy routine. I do the same thing every day – send out emails for every organization I’m involved with, speak with recruiter after recruiter about jobs that I’m obviously not right for – when I get tired enough to fall asleep straightaway I hop into my bed behind me, and when I wake up I get to do it all over again.
Recently I’ve also let my values and beliefs slip for the job. I keep saying that I’m standing firm for a job that I can give my all to – that includes not just my skills but also a personal investment. I’m trying to work for a mission I care about with people who care about it even more, so we can build each other towards it too.
But, I’ve been discouraged again and again by advice I’ve received and sometimes I start believing in it. Such as, making myself “more marketable” by hiding skills to show an employer I only have everything they need because having skills they don’t need somehow means I’m no longer a good fit. Or, the “frog-kisser” suggestion that because I don’t have enough experience, I should take all the work offered to me so I’ll get good enough for the next one. And the worst? Doing what I’m told and changing my direction to someone else’s.
Giving in would be giving up my testimony. My testimony is the reason I’m here, not just in San Francisco, but in a healthy place to move my life towards my goals (and if you’re a Christian, God’s purpose). My testimony isn’t glamorous – in my story I never had the option to date someone I like or work at a job that aligns with my skills nor passion. I always thought I’m just meant to go with the flow and let other people decide who I am and what I and should do for them.
I’m so lucky to be here, and not there.
And being here means I need to do what I’m here for. I moved to San Francisco to learn how I can make my work impact people. Everything I can do matters. I’m a visual designer, I’m a web designer, I code, I illustrate, and now I also am a photographer. All of that will be necessary towards my cause. Even my testimony is important, because my own experiences have prepared me for the welfare of people who don’t have possibility due to cultural issues or unhealthy relationships. I believe that they do have that possibility, if we can make it for them.
It’s not possible for me to make that change alone, but I think beginning with focusing my attention to wellness and mental health is a start to possibilities (no pun intended). So in the coming months, there may be a lot of changes to this blog like:
- More photos of myself or self-portraits. Creative photography is such a powerful tool, and I also need to be more confident with the camera if I’m presenting myself as an advocate.
- A new URL. Because nobody can remember Ethetica. I can’t even pronounce it.
- Story segment. How can I say I want to care about wellness and mental health if I can’t even go to it? I need to interview people in my life for genuine stories.
There’s one thing I want to ask from you guys. I need to keep this blog a positive place, and I won’t be able to do it without your support. I’m really grateful for the handful of you who read my blog and I invite you to continue to do so, leave comments, and give me suggestions and what kind of content you’d like. Will you join me for possibilities?