This week’s photos are from our 2019 trip to Bruges.
Meh Part 2
I’m sat here a day after writing part 1 of this newsletter, which by your time was last week. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster. All internal of course. I know I should speak to my wife about this but she really doesn’t need to hear me go around and around like this again for the nth time. So I try to figure this out in my head. I start by doing other things. Playing games. Yoga. Bike rides. Distractions. All distractions. It is good to be distracted and I feel more like my normal self, which is good, but I know the problem is waiting for me at my desk. I try and edit photos. It doesn’t work. I can’t see what is “right”. A doctor once told me maybe being a photographer was bad for my mental health. I often wonder if she was right.
Re-reading Part 1 and it’s clear what is going on. I can’t see the forest for the trees. I’m so fixed on the tiny details I can’t see the big picture. I don’t even care about the big picture. I just want this one thing to go perfectly. I can’t make it be perfect so I’m a failure. If I can’t do this one thing how can I do anything? Fail.
I try and use google to help and bump into someone called “The Autistic Photographer.” I shouldn’t compare myself to others but he seems happy and enjoys photography because it reduces anxiety. It seems the opposite for me. Just goes to show that if you’ve met one autistic person you’ve met one. He’s, now I don’t have clear info I’m just going in his Facebook page success, he’s built a community and audience around what he loves. He seems happy. He seems to be building on things. I’m an autistic photographer. Why isn’t that me? COMPARISON ALERTDANGER DANGER
I give up. I can’t work, rest or play. It’s all in my head and there’s no where to go. I give up.
A few days later…
My wife and I watched Eurovision and the next day we watched Eurovision. To clarify, we watched the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday and on Sunday we watched the film Eurovision Song Contest: The story of Fire Saga staring Will Ferrell and Rachael McAdams. I’m not going to spoil the film. What I’ll say is it was a nice reminder of the how destructive the desire to follow your heart and be the best version of yourself can be. Oh I know that’s what we should aspire to be but the reality is it can be quite destructive.
That’s what often happens to me. I get stuck. I get perfectionist tunnel vision. “THIS MUST BE PERFECT!” I shout into the void that is my brain. “If it’s not perfect it’s not right. If it’s not right it is wrong. If it is wrong then I’ve failed!!!1111!!!1!!!!” The problem is that the desire to achieve perfect rightness is impossible and ultimately destructive. If I spent a month doing nothing but perfecting a photo I would die of starvation, thirst, house would have burned down, wife left me, cats died and I’d probably be a bit smelly.
As an aside to prove a point I have 4 days to go until Google Photos changes their terms of service so any new photos I upload after 1st June 2021 will be counted against my quota instead of as it is now free storage space. For years I’ve been trying to sort my travel photos so that they are “perfect” so I can store them in Google Photos and enjoy them on our Google Home display. For years they have not been perfect and not on our display. With 4 days to go I am rushing to get something into the system. Classic perfectionist Pete.
Watching this film reminded me, at a time when I needed reminding, that it’s ok to do something pretty cool but it doesn’t need to be perfect. If you let go of trying to be perfect and be happy doing pretty cool things you actually do pretty cool things. The worries fade away because you start living and achieving the things you wanted to achieve. Take this newsletter for example. I’ve tried many times to do something like this but it was never “right” so I failed. Once I gave up and just threw a few things together on a weekly basis I actually started doing it. Now I’m at issue 80. Is it perfect? No but I hope it’s pretty cool.
It’s a shame I need reminding of this every n weeks/months. I have to remind myself not to be a perfectionist, that I’m autistic and that I am disabled. I have to remind myself “Make things that are pretty cool and remember that you’re not like everyone else so don’t compare ( don’t compare! </welsh accent) and you’re doing ok.”
Or… maybe that’s just movie nonsense about neurotypical people not neurodivergent people? Or maybe the movie was secretly about an autistic person and it’s a good lesson? I should aim to be the best so I can do amazing things? Yay for the decision making issues of being autistic. JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO! flips table for dramatic effect
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I’m experimenting with long form still photography. Animated photos. Motion stills. Basically I’m doing a series of 30 second videos strung together to hopefully make something nice to watch for a few minutes. Hopefully it’s interesting. I’d like to do more as I find them quite nice to watch.
- Disabled People Fear Being Left Behind as U.K. Culture Venues Reopen – The New York Times
- Temple Grandin: What’s Right with the Autistic Mind – TIME
- Are these stunning photos of imaginary worlds a new artform? – BBC Culture
- Apple previews powerful software updates designed for people with disabilities – Apple (UK)
- Latest coronavirus advice from the National Autistic Society (UK)