I’m a fairly quiet human beam.

I sit, observe, and I listen. I listen to the tones, to the vibes, to the body language. I listen to the words and manner of speech, but most importantly, I listen to my intuition and generally keep all the things I’ve learned in those moments to myself.

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.

Shy. Observant. Reserved. Quiet.

I’ve been called all of these things many, many times and I can never find the lie.

In more recent years I’ve been described as: Talkative. Interesting. A storyteller. And again, I can never find the lie. Yet somewhere in the midst of these things lies the real me that I think only a handful have truly gotten to know. And that’s just because I don’t easily divulge a lot of myself to others.

I’ve always struggled with opening myself up to people. I don’t exactly know why it’s so hard for me, but the act of opening up somehow seems sacred. Only a few selectively chosen people truly know me because I’m not entirely comfortable letting others in. If there was one thing I envy the most about a person, it’s their ability to be entirely open and honest with others. As a super introverted and often shy person, this is not a trait that comes naturally to me. I often wonder why it’s so incredibly hard for me, but these last few months being away from others had me thinking.

I often feel like an outsider looking in. I can’t describe it any other way. It’s like a feeling of hovering. I may blend in but I never feel like I truly belong to any one people or place. Ever since I can consciously remember, I’ve been constantly searching for somewhere I belong; somewhere I feel rooted. And I think this has only really hit me now because I’ve stopped moving around long enough to let the thought sink in.

Since I often feel like an outsider, I’m generally uncomfortable in most situations. The level of comfort varies of course, but the more comfortable I feel, the more I’m willing to open up. But even so, it’s only a millimeter at a time, like a onion you have to peel back layer by layer. And a lot of those layers are superficial—surface stuff. There’s definitely a level of trust one has to reach before I feel safe to be completely vulnerable; before you can get to the pit of me.

But I often feel like I’m missing out on true connection. And as a person who thrives on deep connections, this seems a bit at odds for me. You would think I would go out of my way to make these connections, but as I get older, I find it harder than ever before.

I’ve been wanting to do this creative self-portrait challenge for awhile now. And for some reason, I have let myself stop myself from doing it. And I think it’s because it’s uncomfortable and incredibly vulnerable (and I don’t think my photos will be good enough, but that is another story for another day). But I somehow want to show the world more of me and what deeply personal way to do it than by actually presenting myself.

The photos may all be surface stuff. But the magic of doing something repeatedly is that at some point it no longer is just surface stuff. Things slip through the cracks and after some time, more begins to unravel. Since the subject is myself, I hope to ride this wave like a gentle unfurling.

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