Playing Mind Games

There are number of things I find doing scary or stressful:

  • Improvised speeches
  • Playing scary video games
  • Asking someone out on a date, especially someone I’ve never talked to
  • Asking for someone to help me out on a project
  • Auditioning for a role in a play or musical or anything in general
  • Asking for honest feedback on something I created, afraid of what he/she really thinks

The last time I did an important speech for a college class, I was very terrified, so much that I could hardly look at anyone. Noone in there obviously knew how awful I was at public speaking and so would have been surprised at my nervousness. It definitely wasn’t the first time I spent more time looking down at my notes than eyeing the class, trying to keep my legs and arms from shaking.

In these kind of situations, it pays to be surrounded by those who are most comforting to me and I know I will not be judged by. There is a vagueness and ambiguity of relying on strangers to accompany me and not knowing their intentions.

The fear in response to anything unknown or uncertain is really just a helpful mechanism being used by your mind in preparation of something dangerous being ahead. If you put that out of your mind, there is nothing to worry about at all.


When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?

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Can I Take Your Picture?

 photo Single Duck_zpswad1puph.jpg

During the last two years and a half or so, my interest in photography has grown – and shrunk. In 2014, I embarked on a 365 day photo project, trying to get one special picture every day. It’s wasn’t that easy and I cheated a little but I did manage to put together an entire year’s worth of pictures, many of them I use in blog posts. Even if the pictures weren’t always the greatest, my skills in photography took leaps and bounds, especially by learning from photographers with more experience than I – or me? It’s not that easy to be a photographer when you are living from home and don’t really have the support around you and that is where the shrunk part comes in.

After the photo project that some would call average or mediocre was over, my reasons to take pictures dropped off because I didn’t have a motive anymore. I tried a new project this year called “Straight Ahead” where I would walk in a straight line from my front door all the way through a forest of trees in back of a neighbor’s house and beyond, snapping one photo of my progress everyday. That didn’t last long because I lost track of where my last picture was from and differentiating between shots of snowy trees was difficult. I also didn’t realize that the leaves of the trees were going to grow back in the spring, making it very difficult to pass through them along with the mosquitoes biting me.

Changing Season

I love taking pictures, mostly of landscapes and interesting objects, odd things I see on my travels, clever bits, memorable signs. But when it comes to getting candid pictures of people around town, well, I shy away because I don’t want to feel like a creep. Besides, taking a picture of someone without their permission is unethical and would be awkward. I’m even afraid to ask people and anyway, I would look a little foolish with my small blue digital camera, trying to pass as a real “photographer”. My hometown isn’t really that interesting in the first place and no one looks like they would be pleased to get a picture taken of them.

In a different light, Brandon Stanton, the owner of the worldwide phenomenon blog Humans of New York, wasn’t afraid to just walk up to random people in the city and take their picture. Wikipedia states he started the blog, which is hosted on Tumblr, in 2010, but when I visited the site and looked back through the archives, the very first picture on there is from January 2009, which is below:

Good morning, nice New Yorker

Stanton started posting pictures to the blog regularly in August 2009 and that is when it really caught fire. His blog is now an inspiration to many worldwide and has produced a bestselling book, but surprisingly, I did not find out about it until last year when the Daily Post featured the blog’s name in an article. My sister in Kansas was wondering if I would like a HONY stories book but I never gave a clear answer.

It wasn’t always easy for Stanton. He’s had his fair share of rejections such as this one from 2012 that he sums up in a quote:

BEST REJECTION OF 2012:

“Excuse me, do you mind if I take your photo?”
“You crazy? I’ve got four detectives and a wife looking for me.”

It sounds rather comical but that is the price a photographer has to pay sometime, getting shot down. It is a fear that the really good photographers have learned to cope with, have learned to expect.

That’s something I wish I could do, just walk up to someone on the street or in the store and politely ask to take their picture. Sure, it would raise a lot of eyebrows in an environment where I see no one taking pictures, but getting over it and accomplishing a goal everyday would push me to strengthen my skills in ways unimaginable.

Of course, getting a professional camera that has interchangeable lenses and high-def zoom would be the first step in making me more confident in my photographic hobby. It’s quite hard to even take my own self seriously with my wimpy digital camera. At times, I feel like it is a waste of time and my interest wasn’t anything more than an impulse. Maybe if I took a job at a photography studio and had access to professional equipment and real world experts there would be more incentive to this hobby of mine.

Until then, I’ll stick to the more comfortable and safe method of photographing the world around people. There won’t be a Humans of Michigan anytime soon, but it is my dream to one day see my interest that lurks in the shadows and is not really noticed by many, to suddenly develop into something greater, something of a career. That’s the dream, I just have to take the right steps to reach it. And that first step is getting a job.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fright Night.”

What’s the thing you’re most scared to do? What would it take to get you to do it?

Unfollowphobia

Blogging effectively is a shaky practice. It is hard to not slip up once in a while and totally have a nightmare day. If you’re like me and still learning the ropes, committing these errors are bound to happen sometime. I’ve gone down the dark road a number of times and had to fight my way back. Well, I’m here to advise you on what you should avoid to ensure your pretty group of followers, whether it is 50, 100, 500, 1000, or 10,000, stay with you until, well, until you eventually give up on blogging…or die – and the blog becomes an historical artifact on the internet. I’m no expert with less than 400 followers but I can give some tips based off past experiences:

  1. Too many changes 

People want consistency. They want to have a way to identify you and get used to you. Changing things like the blog title and theme too many times are sure ways to put mistrust into a fellow follower. I’ve changed my look and feel over the past year, trying to find the image that I wanted to convey, which is fun but still with an edge of seriousness. I’ve tried to be content with what I’ve got but some impulse inside always gets me excited about making changes, which is why I’ve shied away a number of bloggers. If you want to change something, think it over carefully before committing. Keep it simple and not too over the top as well. Don’t change the meaning of your blog if you already have posts that fit the meaning, like doing a poetry blog and then all of a sudden making it look all high tech with computer imagery.

2. Too unfocused 

I still suffer from this because I have a dream of making my blog into a buffet of topics, all of them scrupulously crafted and full of detail. But in the land of blogs, niche is king. Having a niche (pronounced like “ditch”) helps bloggers know what to expect instead of the blog being all over the place. They can trust that you know the topic well and will be able to follow up on it. But I think being too niche can restrict your development and creativity, as well as losing out on potential followers.

3. Spamming 

“Check out this site for free lotion!” “Earn $1000 dollars a day by working at home!” “Check out my blog at…where I discuss why I’m so in love with the Kardashians!” Yeah, it’s just a bad practice and can make you look like you only read the blogger’s post to self promote yourself or something, making you look like a business instead of an actual human. It gives you bad rep. If you have something good to say, say it, but don’t force a comment just to link one to your blog.

4. Too restrictive on commenting 

I’ve heard about the “Word Verification” option on WordPress. It’s to check and filter out potentially offensive or suggestive words from comments. Well, having it on can restrict conversations if every word has to be checked before it gets posted. I’ve never seen this been used, supposedly because I never swear in the comment section! Just don’t do it because it causes a delay – like I really know how it works.

5. Too hateful, boring, or depressive

I try to keep my voice consistent and put a little bit of humor into my writing, but there are times when it’s not appropriate to be funny, especially when writing about tragedies. Sometimes I just feel down and unable to write anything funny. It’s ok to write seriously and rant like a fire demon, but doing it too much can really be a turn off.

6. Not posting frequently enough or posting too much 

The people that post the least, sometimes going months without a single post, are the people that I usually end up cutting when it’s time to clean house. I like to have active bloggers in my circle, ones that I can consistently check out and get to know. Not posting makes me lose interest and have no point in following the blog anymore. There are exceptions such as if the blog is really good but the person is just telling us that they have a life… You can get away with posting too much but if none of those posts are effective or interesting, or are just annoying, the unfollow button is like a magnet that will attract the reader. I know because I’ve done it.

I’ve been the victim of losing blog followers in the past. Reasons for the unfollows are not made clear but I can pinpoint a few things that might have prompted someone to hit the unfollow button:

A really crumby post that is totally embarrassing and also pointless. Doing No Shave November last year and other posts about growing beards, with pictures, didn’t exactly capture people’s fancy and I lost a couple of followers.

I always have a fear that most of my followers will give up on me. Either because I can be too depressing, boring, or silly sometimes, or because I’m always so unfocused. I also have the fear that if I ever stopped blogging for a number of days, that some followers would be gone. I’ve got a lot of good content to keep that from happening but nothing lasts forever. I’ve worked so hard to put together my little community. Going backwards now would be devastating.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Must Not Fail.”

What is the one thing at which you are the most afraid of failing?

Claustrophobia

claustrophobia
Trapped within a room
The walls are closing in
Can’t escape it’s grip
I’m starting to panic
This fear is strong
Claustrophobia
Don’t get near me
Contagion
Quarantined
Sickbay
Crazy
Gone insane
Heart beats fast
Sweat
Help…
I
Am
In
A
Tig
ht
Sque
eze


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Inside the Bubble.”

A contagious disease requires you to be put into quarantine for a whole month (don’t worry, you get well by the time you’re free to go!). How would you spend your time in isolation?

One of my biggest fears is being in tight spaces, hence the poem and the picture of underneath my house. Getting trapped under there would be terrifying, not to mention spooky.

The Talent Show Horror

Think about what you wanted to accomplish last week. Did you? What are the things that hold you back from doing everything you’d like to do?

There was always a talent show held at school. Every year of elementary, middle, and high school. The first one started in kindergarten or first grade I believe. Many kids would be in it and show off what they are supposedly good at (much of the singing and dancing lame but still applauded by the audience of eager parents and friends), while many others were either too afraid or didn’t think they had any talent worth showing. I was always one of the kids who would have been too afraid to go on stage and have hundreds of pairs of eyes staring at me while I tried to do whatever I chose as my ideal talent (singing always was the last thing on my mind). What talent did I really believe I possessed at seven years old? Nothing ever seemed to be apparent. I guess I could have performed as a mime because I was already so good at being quiet.

I never was in this kind of variety show that sort of acts like a test to see if you have any future in the entertainment business. And if you weren’t in it or at least tried, it seemed as if you were toast for any future consideration in plays or musicals because “no one knows what you’re good at” and will never be pushed to participate. Never the one to ever want to be the center of attention, it was usually me watching from a shadowy seat in the 40th or so row while someone would be belting out to a popular song of the day (in the late 90s it was “All Star”), doing absurd backflips, juggling, or some other talent that could only be God given in my opinion. I didn’t envy any talents I saw particularly good but just wished I could get over my fear of stage and actually show what I had within myself, whatever it was. But I was too shy and reserved. That was the hill I had to get over.

Then high school came and thoughts of having any talents worth showing to the public were about evaporated. I never believed I could actually sing (karaoke doesn’t count, please) and my dancing was okay but nothing special, just moving my legs around in an incoherent manner. Backflips, somersaults – if I ever tried those things I would probably break my neck.

One day in about eleventh grade though, I actually had the bold thought that I was going to be in the variety show and show off a talent that might actually make me the most popular person in the school. I had the craziest idea that I would choose a song, an appropriate, well liked one for the matter, and sing it with my greatest efforts, trying to finally prove I had a gift worth talking about. I even started preparing by singing in front of the mirror and while on long walks by myself, trying to project my perfect song voice.

But around the week before the “auditions” were to begin (could anybody just get in?), I panicked and came to my senses that it would be very embarrassing to try to sing or dance in front of everyone for the first time. It would have probably been okay when I was little when no one cared if you made a fool of yourself, but in this present time I felt even more pressure to be cool and not do anything stupid that would give others a bad impression of me.

guitarsSo, with the butterflies in my stomach, I’ll stick to singing in the shower where no one can hear me, and dancing with large crowds in the dark where everyone seems the same. I do have talents, yes, but they are not always apparent or visible to people. I believe I am a much better writer than I was years ago and am getting more seasoned with poetry. My photography skills have also gotten much sharper. But those aren’t things I could actually showcase on any talent show at school or on TV. I tried learning to play the guitar and piano but need so much more practice. Two guitars sit at home that have been played a lot, but I’m still no rock god.

 I guess what I’m trying to say here is we all have a special gift within us that doesn’t always have to be applauded for. Whatever it is you’ve got, make sure you embrace it and love it and don’t let others discourage your path to happiness and success with it. With a lot of hard work and practice, anything is possible.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Obstacle Course.”

Airport Panic

Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?


Agoraphobia 

The terminal becoming vast

My unbalanced mind

A frightening step forward

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Instead of strictly going the way of the prompt, I decided to haiku a phobia of mine that surfaced at an airport this year.