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Social Anxiety and Photography

Social Anxiety and Photography
March 30th, 2020

If you are on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook and a photographer, you have probably seen a number of videos or articles on the benefits of Photography on mental health. I wasn’t sure to post this blog, as I didn’t want to be seen to be jumping on the bandwagon, or using mental health as a way to promote a website or YouTube channel. After much thought, I decided I would share the way that photography helps me to deal with my mental health.

I have always had struggles with my mind, and thoughts but in different ways to the norm. There have been dark times and good times. For me, I live with anxiety especially in social situations, now I have been lucky enough to be reasonably happy in life, and not been afflicted with the severe depression that some have to live with every day, although there have been times where I have been low. Overall I’m happy in my own little world and in my own head, but that has its downsides.

See, being happy in your own mind can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse. There is often a tendency to overthink things, think about things that are not often there. When I’m out in the world, and I meet new people, there is often the urge to think the horrible. Are they judging me? Are they going to laugh if I say the wrong thing? Are they going to be nice to me, then bitch and moan when I’m not there. These overriding thoughts can overcome your normal actions, such as speaking and being natural. It’s hard to describe unless you have experienced it.

I have experienced the good and bad of this. I have had people who would run a mile because they don’t know how to react or handle the situation. I have people be very scathing about me as well. It’s natural to run away from situations we find difficult, I spent a number of years doing the same.

Now, where does photography come into this?

A couple of years ago, I made a promise to myself, to step out that comfort zone more, do more things that scared me, and start to enjoy life more. See, the thoughts that I had, were holding me back in life. One of these promises was to get back into photography and try vlogging. I’d always enjoyed photography since a small age, but had situations where I’d lost interest, mainly getting bored of shooting places that were in my comfort zone. I wouldn’t travel beyond an area that I didn’t know, as the overwhelming thoughts of getting lost have stopped me from doing this.

I had really got into watching YouTube and seeing vloggers on there. I’d watch a lot of Casey Niestat and saw how exciting vlogging was and wanted to try it. Those thoughts reared their head again, especially after reading some of the comments on some of the videos I’d watched and they were scathing, most of the time by the proclaimed keyboard warriors who would hide behind a keyboard. You see for most people, these comments would be taken on the chin, and wouldn’t bother most people, but for somebody with anxiety, these comments would often set off thoughts that could cripple you. So why would you do this to yourself?

I’d put off vlogging for a while, but I was lucky enough to meet a few photography vloggers and see them do their stuff and it really got me excited. You see I’m happy talking one on one to a person, if I have something that I enjoy or passionate about, stick me in a room with other people, and yes I’ll be the quiet one in the corner.

Vlogging is essential for the art of talking to a camera on your own. I have worked in call centres for years and spoken to thousands of people over the telephone, so when I started vlogging, I treated this in the same way, like I was talking photography to somebody over the phone. It’s surprisingly liberating to talk to somebody when you know you can’t be seen so that is probably why I do call centre work so well, I can’t be seen so I can’t be judged. There are still those thoughts in the back of your mind. Did I tell them the right thing, are they going to complain? That tendency to overthink.

It’s good to step out of that comfort zone.

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