Reflection

Have you ever been proud of yourself for something? I have. Let me explain. 

I am a photographer. I am so proud to finally say that and own it as someone who is still in high school. Truth be told, I haven't made any money from it, yet. But no photographer started out with making hundreds. I'm proud of the fact that I took the next step and am finally doing something that I love and that I get to share with everyone.

I am proud of myself for training twice a week and that I now have lost 3.6% body fat.

Everything is about self-esteem. Whether you have it or not, it's important. It shows how you see yourself. Not anyone else, you. I've been actively shooting photos for 6 months now and I've actively been training for one and my life is pretty good, not going to lie. But I haven't been able to sit down and write anything for a long time. I guess I've been stuck in this rut where I'm uncertain of what I should do next?

I think from time to time we all are. Stuck in this one place, unsatisfied with everything we do, wanting to hear compliments and receiving them, but not being content with them. We have this urge to feel good about ourselves and we like to hear compliments and we like to have people in our lives that give us value.

They give us our self-esteem. They give us happiness, love, gratitude, but they also can give us anger, sadness and depression, which are all things we wished we had never experienced.

A day goes by and I'm in bed and I wonder:

"How was today?" 

"How can I improve tomorrow to make it better?"

These questions that we ask ourselves are probably one of the most important ones. It's like reflecting. You know, how in high school or college or anywhere for that matter, you reflect on things? Mistakes, failures, successes, all that is applied here, but it's about your life. Somehow we find it important to have people in our lives that tell us all the good things we do and we prefer to never hear the bad things. Once in a while hearing the bad things, the critiques and just receiving feedback can actually help us get to where we want to be. We all want to be successful, we all want a good life and so receiving things you didn't want to receive might actually be a good thing.

I've been charging my phone at my desk and somehow I feel empty. Unable to check my phone while I'm in bed and unable to be 'connected' to the world, but it has improved my sleeping habits by 150%. It feels good to be disconnected from everything and everyone, just these 8-9 hours where you're meant to be sleeping. I have spent many many nights on my phone watching some Youtube video and scrolling through everybody's perfect Instagram and when I look at some people I feel jealous.

Why do they get the perfect car, the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, the perfect body, the perfect skin,  the perfect life?

Instead of being jealous I feel okay. I have this idea in my head that if I work twice, three, 4 times as hard as all of those people, I might end up being even more famous or making even more money than they ever did. Now, this is not a competition and it's definitely not about how much money you make. We're not here to win a game and laugh at people that haven't succeeded yet, because one day, we might end up like those people and they might end up like the successful people they worked for. I've thought about something Nina Dobrev said in a podcast. If you've never heard of Nina Dobrev, look her up. She is mostly known for her role in Vampire Diaries, which I'm not ashamed to say, I've watched.

She said:

"Be nice to all the people on your way up, because you'll be seeing them on your way down" 

And with that, I'm going to leave you and let you think. Think about your life, reflect and ask yourself the two questions I ask myself every single night.

 

Phones

We spend so much time on our phones, we forget to look up and enjoy what's going on right in front of us.

During my time in Florida I had this long drive to Tampa with a friend of my dad's. He has an $8 phone, which I think is very inspiring, most of us spend at least $800.  To quote him:

"It's a tool, not your life"

One of the reasons I love vacations is that I'm disconnected from the online world and it really is freeing. I'm not saying I hate the online world, but it can get pretty frustrating. It's true. Our phones give us a way to communicate with those that are far away, but it shouldn't completely take over our lives.

My phone is my biggest distraction. The smallest buzz makes me drop everything and check it immediately. I sometimes just go on my phone, because I think I need to check something, but I don't. Checking my phone is the first thing I do every morning, which is a bad habit, but a lot of us do it. So worried we missed something while we were sleeping and when your notification screen is empty, you feel empty, but it's not supposed to feel empty. Our phones gives us a way to not have to talk to people or give us an escape from reality.

Social Media also has a big impact on our lives. I don't hate Social Media. In fact I met tons of friends online. But it has gotten too easy to bully people online. I've talked to plenty of people, people with mental health issues, supporting them when they had been going through hard times, because I knew how it felt. I knew what it was like to feel like you're not good enough, not pretty enough, like you should end it, because you wouldn't be missed. Even though I didn't know them, I felt compassion for them and tried to show them that there are so many people who care. Sometimes people even open up to you if they don't have anyone else. In a way this really makes my heart ache. I really hope all these people I've talked to, are doing okay. So, my phone gave me a way to help people out. A way to talk to them when they had nobody else. A way to show them the good parts of life. A way to give them hope that they were going to be okay.

A good friend taught me: Never judge someone before you get to know them. Everybody deserves a chance.

A chance to prove themselves. A chance to show they're more than their Instagram pictures or their photos on Facebook. A chance to show who they are and what they stand for.

For an experiment I turned off all my notifications for a month. I noticed I checked my phone a lot, because I had this idea in my head, I was missing out. Nowadays, we even have a name for it: FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out. However, if I don't have my phone with me, I don't miss it. I dare you to lock your phone in a drawer for a week, who knows, maybe it will change your life.

So, I spent a day with my dad's friend and I've gotten a few really inspiring thoughts from him that I would like to share.

"There is 24 hours in a day. 8 hours of sleep, 10 hours of work, why would you spend your only free time on a device?"

He's right. Why would we spend the only time we have left in a day with our eyes glued to a screen? If we stopped worrying so much about what other people thought of us or that we had to update our status, we would be able to spend so much more time being here, now.

"That's why people freak out when they lose their phone. It's their life"

I have to admit I would freak out a little too if I lost my phone. Ever since I started doing photography I learned that you need to backup everything. So if I lose my phone, yes I would lose all of my pictures except the ones from my camera and I would lose all of my text messages. I would lose all that and somehow feel empty. We spend so much time on our phones, we forget what it's like to actually live, put your phone away and have some fun with your family or friends.

My best and worst moments in life never included a phone or social media. It included people. The best people I know, seriously they are amazing.

Too many funerals, too fast, made me realise your life could be over, just like that. I for one, wouldn't want to reflect on my life and wished I hadn't spent so much time behind a screen. I would want to reflect on my life and think back on all of the wonderful times I spent with my friends and family. All of the memories we made. All of the hugs we exchanged. All of the love we had for each other. It would be something meaningful and not filled with regrets. It's never too late to make a change and sometimes change is good. I know that, because I learned from something that happened in the past. I changed and everything just became better over time.

So, get off that screen your eyes are glued to all day, off the couch, live a little and start getting rid of that addiction.

Feedback

Today's post is inspired by a few friends of mine from writing group.

Feedback, why do we have it and why do we need it?

Yesterday I went to this writing group with just two other people, with low expectations, but only positive outcomes. We often ask for feedback, because we want to know how someone thinks about something that we've created. Whether that's a story, a photo, a drawing etc. We want to know what other people think. Sometimes feedback can be received badly, sometimes people don't want to hear what you truly think. But it's the feedback that's going to help us improve. It's going to get us to another level. A better one. I think feedback should always be appreciated. You ask what people think, but if you're not ready for the answer then don't ask. Feedback is a way for yourself to know what you're doing right and what can be done better.

Feedback can be scary. It may not always be the answer you hoped it would be, but it gives you a chance to learn and next time, do better. Sometimes people are very nice to each other, to not hurt each other's feelings, so the feedback is often very mild and only positive. This is an okay thing to do, but it doesn't help the person that is asking for the feedback. I'm not saying be super harsh and only point out the bad things, but try to find a balance between what was good and bad and that's how you'll be able to give the best feedback.

Prior to the writers meetup I was nervous. Nervous to hear what they thought. One of the two people was even a stranger so that made it even more nerve wrecking. A complete stranger that doesn't know you and you don't know them, but you both wrote stories and that's what connected us. In some way it let us grow closer to each other. Something so little is so powerful that it created a new friendship. One of my 2018 goals was: Make a new friend. I have 31 new friends and it's just April so far.

Maybe, I was nervous, because I always think I'm not good enough, like what I create is just like everyone else. I hear from others that I should give myself some credit, but I'm too humble for that. Yes, I am humble, why would someone say that about themselves? I never said it, my friends did. If I think about it, I am. I don't like bragging or showing off. I don't like talking about myself. I almost never put myself first. That's just who I am. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's okay to be who you are. I encourage you to embrace your flaws instead of being ashamed of them. I know what makes everyone unique and makes us all the same.

"So, why did you go to this writing group?"

I am writing a book. Yes, you read it correctly. A book. Curious? Send me an email or through social media a message and I'll send you some information. Expected release date? No clue. I just started two weeks ago. Why go to a writing group? My uncle actually introduced me to it. He is one of the members. I must say it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Just two hours filled with fellow writers talking about our stories and giving each other feedback. We were talking about something that was interesting to me. Something that I actually cared about instead of hearing about tests and projects that still needed to be handed in. Something creative that gave me a sense of freedom.

Yes, it is difficult to hear that some people don't like certain parts, but everybody is different, what one person doesn't like, the next one might love. All you have to do is write your story. Take their feedback into consideration and listen. Have an open mind. If you keep being stubborn, you'll never rise as high as the person who did listen. So it hurts a little that your best friend didn't like a certain part of the story, but it should never give you the feeling that you suck or that you should quit, because it won't work out. Keep creating, there's always going to be one person out there that will be inspired or someone who really needed to hear your message, whatever that may be. You should never let someone stop you from doing your thing. If you love it, you do it.

Enjoy

A lot of times in our lives we forget to enjoy life. We get so caught up in the 9-5 hustle that we forget to have a little fun and treat ourselves to something good. I want you to enjoy. Enjoy those moments, give yourself a break once in a while, because you need it. I had to study non stop for about a month and for a minute there, I forgot what it felt like to have fun and not worry so much about everything. I would feel trapped, unhappy and unsatisfied. For the past few weeks, I've felt a lot like everything that I've been doing is so pointless. As I walked out the door one morning, someone special said to me: This is for your future. And as I was cycling to school, I realised she was right. Everything I'm doing right now, is my ticket to earning money and having a good life. Even if it brings me down a lot, I walk out that door every morning, step onto my bike and go to school, because this, this is for my future. All those hours spent doing homework, studying for tests, making projects, that. That is for my future.

I don't have it completely bad, don't worry. There's all the school vacations I get to enjoy and the moments where I don't have such a big workload so I decide to plan something fun and give myself break. Whether that's watching Netflix all day or being with a good friend.

Giving yourself a break is also quite good for your mental health. We neglect it often, but speaking as someone with experience. Things can become very overwhelming at times and we need those close friends or family members to help us get through it. Once I told someone about what I was going through, it helped. It helped so much to a point where I started to feel happy again, I started to feel good again. Don't push yourself beyond your limits, don't be to hard on yourself and don't pressure yourself too much. Neglecting your mental health can make or break you, so try not to let it break you, because that's not a pretty sight to look forward to.

Enjoying life is very important, because you only get one. And that's something we forget often too, that we only have one life. One life to prove ourselves, to be good, to be kind, to be loved, to be brave, to be strong, to be remembered.

So if you're thinking about going out, go. If you can't decide if you should book that trip, just book it. If you think you don't deserve to buy something nice for yourself, you've got it all wrong. You deserve it more than anyone. Enjoy those beautiful moments and remember those tough times.

With much love,

Esmee

Opportunity

We often find ourselves having lots of opportunities. That could be getting the job you always wanted or going to that big social event. Creating opportunity is where everything changes.

I used to just wait for opportunities to come. Hoping they'd wait for me at the front door. Not anymore. I started to say: 'No. I'm not sitting around anymore'. So the next day I woke up and started creating opportunities for myself. I launched a website, launched a new Instagram account, started a blog, connecting with new people, but mostly letting myself be more open with more people. I am someone who is afraid of showing her feelings. Only when I would feel comfortable around you I would tell you things I haven't told anyone. Every day there's a new opportunity. A new opportunity to message that person you haven't talked to in ages or to take your skateboard out and take it for a ride, because lets face it, you haven't done that in years either. We invest a lot of our time and money in things we get rid of or lose interest in after a few months. I know I have.

I wanted something so badly and I decided that it was time I stopped waiting and started doing. I had the opportunity to attend this party or get something done for a friend that would help her out a lot, but I decided to not do it. Perhaps, because I was scared.

I've always been frightened by new things. Whether that's new people or new places. I was always frightened of the idea of trying something I've never done before. I recently watched 'Still Alice' and that speech changed my life. Of course, I haven't had much of a life yet, I'm only 16 years old, but that speech impacted me so much that I am starting to just 'live in the moment, because it's really all we can do'. We only have this one life, this one life, to make things right and to make things better. Creating opportunities by taking the first step is the way to go. I started saying: 'Okay, so this photography thing is something I really want to do' and built a website, setting up photoshoots and just started creating opportunities. I have the opportunity to create something special every day. I have the opportunity to meet new people every day. I have the opportunity to be even more kind and loving than the day I was before.

I'm not afraid to say that I had been struggling in December of 2017. That was the hardest month of my life. By talking about it I created the opportunity to be closer to people and have more friends than I had the day before.

We see all these opportunities fly by, but we never actually choose to take them. Maybe because we don't feel like it or because we don't think it's interesting enough. Who ever might have told you that taking risks or opportunities is a bad thing, was 100% wrong. It's because of those risks and opportunities that I am who I am today. That you are who you are, today.

All I ask is that you start creating opportunities for yourself, not for me, not for anyone else. Just for you. Because it's important to take good care of yourself. You can't take care of others fully if you can't take care of yourself. So, please. Live in the moment, because it's really all we can do.

 

 

Passionate

I feel like this is going to be more of a personal piece, but it can and does apply to everyone. So here goes..

Passion. Is it something we all have? Or does only a small part of the population have it? Do you ever get that feeling when you're doing something and you just never want to stop? I do. Every single day when I get creative and do a bunch of stuff.

I for one am passionate about photography. I love every aspect of it. It's like I'm in a different world. I can get so hyped about it, talk about it for hours and never want to stop. There's something about it that's just so appealing and it never gets old.

Being passionate about something is tricky, because if you're really passionate you never want to stop or give up no matter how hard it is. Now motivation and drive is as important as being passionate. You need to have the motivation and drive to wake up every morning and get to work. Without hard work, perseverance, motivation and drive you're never going to get there. That's not something I'm making up, it's a cold hard fact.

If you think: 'Yes, this might be something' then do it as much as you can. For example, I try to do as many photoshoots and arrange as many meet ups or do as many collaborations with as many people as I can. Even though right now it's just my friends, I'm super happy that they're willing to this for me. I'm so grateful for them. They make my passion even better. They give me that motivation and drive I need every day, to get up and get to work. I think we all need that one person or a group of people that drive you and motivate you to do better and to be better.

Let's talk about who I am for a second. Not because I like talking about myself, no, far from it, but I do believe it's important to tell this story right. I'm a very shy person. I have a lot of trouble making new friends and I'm always afraid to speak up and say what's on my mind. All of this changed when I got into photography. I stepped out of my comfort zone, I stopped caring so much what people thought and I even made a few new friends along the way.

I'm passionate and so are you. Don't be afraid to show them that this is something you want to do. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

This was a shorter piece, but it's just as important as all of my other thoughts.

If you've read all the way to here, please check out my Instagram and if you see what you like, please follow me on there. Besides that I want to give a huge thank you to you all for reading, browsing through my photos and supporting through all of this. You are the best!

The Other Side Of Fear

Courage doesn't mean you don't get afraid. Courage means you don't let fear stop you. There have been so many times where I let fear stop me. It stopped me from doing the right thing. It stopped me from doing what I wanted most. What is on the other side of fear?

I think it's freedom. Finally feeling like you stepped out of your comfort zone and into the danger. Freedom is what gives us the feeling that we can do anything we want. Freedom is what gives us a chance to do something different, perhaps something better.

I often say: 'I fear death' but what I don't realise is that I'm actually having the fear of not truly living. I think that's what scares us most. The idea of not living fully. The idea of not having done enough. The idea that you are running out of time.

Time is something crazy. "It flies by' as they say. And that's true, but for some bits in our life it's not. Like the time someone close to you dies. It's like time. just. stopped. You aren't able to comprehend it and you feel like being frozen in time. Or that moment when you get fired from your job and everything slows down. Or when the bank you're in , gets robbed and everything goes so fast. Time can be scary. With the blink of an eye, you're grown up, you have a house, a dog, kids and you end up under ground. Now, I'm not trying to scare you, but we need to take action and not let fear stop us from doing that one thing we said we'd always do. Some point in our life.

We often find ourselves joking about fear. But the ones that overcome those fears and actually take it seriously, those are the ones that actually stepped out of their comfort zone.

When I think of my comfort zone, I think of when I'm around my friends. So obviously if I'm not around them, I feel uncomfortable and out of place. Do you feel like that when you're not in your comfort zone?

I've struggled with many fears, but recently I've decided to just live my life, the best way I can. Making videos, photos, hanging with friends, travel, get to know new people... that's another one.

I am terrified of meeting new people. I am a very shy person and never been good at small talk. If I'm at a party where I know one person I'll be with that person serving as some sort of shadow. Meeting new people is far away from my comfort zone.

But I recently became more openminded, yet it's still scary. I think that anything you would do that you hadn't done before, like eating this weird dish they served at that strange restaurant you once went to. It would be scary and you would be afraid of doing that one thing or having the courage to walk up to that someone and speak.

What is really on the other side of fear?

It's the idea that you've lived. No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.

Imagine you made a bucket list when you were a kid, after almost a decade you find that same bucket list. Do you throw it out or do you decide then and there that you're going to do every single thing on that bucket list that your 5 year old self dreamed of?

We're often persuaded by our close friends or relatives and that can help too. They can help you get over your biggest fear. Whether that is jumping off a bridge or killing a spider.

So think about it. Are you really afraid or just stalling? Is the other side of fear as bad as you think? Because I disagree. Get out and get busy!