Confidence, depression and photography

I have never been the most confident person. I think that’s part of the reason that I am not very competitive; I have never really believed that I was better, faster, stronger, more talented than anyone else. Suffering from Depression doesn’t help that, obviously. Yes I have depression. I haven’t even alluded to it so far I don’t think. I was a bit self conscious about it since it’s such a common thing especially online, I think that people are getting blase about it, and even doubting people when they admit it.

But it’s part of who I am so I would not be completely honest with you (and myself) if I didn’t at least mention it. I take medication which helps immensely, to the point where I don’t think I could be myself without it, if I forget it then I am a different person the day after; morose, monosyllabic, distant and just not worth being around. Generally though it’s just a niggle, something that affects me but not to a huge extent thanks to the drugs and the therapy and the constant positive influence of my partner and our daughter.

So that’s two “outings” for me here now, I am a pansexual guy who suffers from depression.

Moving on 🙂

I have shared one photograph with you already, a picture of a window that I took at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, UK. I have been using Flickr for quite some time and have been getting some good responses on there which is wonderful. It’s nice to be appreciated by complete strangers who have nothing to gain by “bigging you up”.

Buoyed up by this, I have decided to try and sell my photography. The first channel I am trying is Fine Art America. It’s a site where you can upload photos and people can buy them as prints, canvas, and all sorts of other things like iphone cases, pillows and even shower curtains!

Here’s a bit of my page:

FAA
My FAA page, an excerpt

Yes, that’s me. It’s a big step for me to do this. I have been “Fox” on here to be anonymous so far, but I think that if I am going to make any sort of progress at all then I needed to do this. It’s not like I am putting a poster up at work, but I feel a little less like I am hiding now.

So there we are, please take a look around. The picture is a link to my profile page where you can see all 25 photographs that I have for sale. Let me know what you think either in the comments here or on FAA if you have an account and can post.

I was in two minds about posting about it here because I don’t want this to be an advertising site for my photography, but at the same time, it’s something I am proud of and I value any and all advice and comments that my readership can offer, I really value your opinions.

Of course if you fancy buying something, I certainly won’t stop you 🙂

I will leave you with one of my most popular photos. I am not at all religious, but I think this sums up a position a lot of us find ourselves in from time to time, in the darkness looking towards the light, hoping that one day we get there.

Look to the Light
Look to the Light

Finding Unity Within Your Sexuality

A great post about relaxing and letting yourself be yourself and seeing the beauty where you can. It speaks to me as I am stripping away the years of self-repression and learning to accept the real me and all my tastes and likes without self-judgment or censor.

ofabisexualmind

I was introduced to a friend through a mate one night. ‘Twas a pleasant night, lots of laugh, you know how it goes. Afterward, when I was heading back with my mate, she says how her friend, the one introduced to me, seems to talk about women quite a bit – celebrities, size of their breasts, etc. All in front of her own boyfriend, who she has been with for quite some time.

People talk about this friend and her comments. It’s nothing rude or offensive, it just happens to the point where we wonder if maybe she’s longing to be with a women. Maybe she is scared to leave the comfort of her relationship to tackle the unknown, or to not hurt this man?

I used to be like that. I used to think of a man jerking off and find it hot — but then get into a panic…

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Gender – Some thoughts.

Of all the words in the English language, the one whose generally accepted meaning has changed (and is changing) the most must be GENDER. This is quite a long post but I hope you will persevere and add your comments to get some discussion going.

Growing up I, along with most people my age I imagine, linked gender with the physical attributes of our bodies. There were boys and there were girls and they were well defined by their bumps, curves and dangly bits. If I were to be completely honest (And that’s kind of the point of this blog…) then I still thought in those terms until relatively recently, the last few years or so.

What I have come to realise is that it isn’t the definition of the word that has changed. That’s important.

It isn’t that the OED has suddenly changed it’s wording. It isn’t that a group of people has been mangling the English language (Well it is, that group is “almost everyone” in global terms). The movement is currently towards using the word in it’s ACTUAL context as defined over the last few hundred years and as described in the OED etc; not it’s colloquially understood definition that I (And most people) grew up with.

The entry for “gender” in the Oxford English Dictionary reads:

The state of being male or female (Typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)

This is revolutionary and allows for a much expanded language surrounding a persons “state of being” that is more accurate, sympathetic and downright “true”.

As a contrast, the word “sex” as used in a similar context has the meaning of

Either of the two main categories into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive function.

As a further expansion, the definition of “male” in a “sex” context is

Of or denoting the sex that produces gametes, specifically spermatozoa, with which a female may be fertilised or inseminated to produce offspring

So, two completely different sets of definitions which unfortunately use the same two terms of “male” and “female”. It is unfortunately completely correct from a language point of view to say “I am a (sex) female (gender) male” which isn’t very helpful although it does illustrate the point.

The “sex” definition isn’t absolutely perfect as it excludes people born with physical indicators and expressions of both or neither “sex”. It kind of refers to this by using the term “…two main categories…” though.

So, we have gender and we have sex. It’s complicated further by gender not being a binary system in the real world. It’s all very well to say that it refers to societal males and females but in reality a lot of people show traits applicable to both. Gender is much more of a spectrum than a switch that is one way or the other.

After realising all this I started to look at myself and see how I fit in. I should say that I also know that I have a long way to go before I understand this subject anywhere near perfectly, and I think that it’s an area that is still having its boundaries pushed so there is probably no-one who has that perfect understanding. Most recently I have read an article on the difference between “Gender expression” and “Gender identity”; and so it goes on. I find the whole subject absolutely fascinating so will continue to try and improve my understanding.

Anyway, back to me!

To use the “sex” term, I am male. That’s a pretty easy one for me. My body is built the way you would typically expect a (sex) male to be built. I should add that I am also a cis male in that my gender identity matches my body.

The interesting bit for the purposes of this post comes when I start to try and analyse my own gender. I think that I am talking about “gender expression” here, but that’s a sub classification that I am still working on my understanding of so please do comment on whether I have this right.

I have a beard. Not a big bushy one but a full face beard none the less. This obviously scores a point in the direction of a male gender expression. I wear and feel comfortable in what my society considers to be attire appropriate to the male gender so there’s another point towards it. I use male pronouns and would rather other people do too so there is another.

I am not competitive at all. I have no drive to win be that in a computer game, a running race, or in my career. In these terms I think that is a more female expression. When I sit down on a chair I cross my legs, and if I am on a sofa I tend to fold them beside me. Again, more of a female expression.

If I were to go through all of my behaviour and drop each one into those slots I think I would be on the male side of the centre of the spectrum, but not by a huge amount. I am happy and conmfortable with that.

I hope that you enjoyed this little intro to my understanding of gender. If you are on this journey with me then please let me know your understanding. If your understanding differs or you think I am way off mark please dive in and let me know.

Thank You!

Hi folks

I wanted to just say a very quick thank you. I now have 14 followers by Worpress and email. Fourteen people who are interested in reading my self-analytical ramblings 🙂 I have a few post ideas stacked up and am getting more each day so you should see a fairly steady stream of stuff from me although I am not imposing any schedule on myself, that would only lead to a lower quality of post and feelings of guilt if/when I missed deadlines; I want to keep this upbeat and positive!

I am learning so much about myself, partially from writing and partly from reading other bloggers on WordPress. I am following loads of people who are in a similar boat to me, or who are at a much more developed stage in their sexual self awareness. I am making progress, and I will share that with you all as I go along.

Do you want to know anything in particular? Any questions? Any requests?

Tipsy and happy

I am working away and just got back to the hotel after dinner and a few drinks all am perhaps a little emotional but I just wanted to share how lucky I am to have a wonderful partner.

We have been together five years now and had a bit of a fling years ago before going our separate ways. We have an amazing daughter who is no blood relation to me but that doesn’t matter at all.

The point of this is to say how lucky I am to have her. I came out to her a few weeks ago and she basically blinked, held my hands and said she wasn’t surprised. Since then she has shown me again and again what love means and I cant imagine being without her.

Love finds a way and is completely blind to things that don’t matter to it. Trust your feelings and trust your loved ones.

Time for sleep now.  Hugs xxxxx

It’s frustrating

I am having to give myself active permission and encouragement to look at men in ‘that’ way. It’s hard to explain, I look at a picture for example of a well defined topless guy and my initial reaction will probably be a flash of attraction. All good so far!

The problem is that I then hit a brick wall in my mind. It’s as if years of denial have created a sort of  defense system in my head to stop me ‘going there’. I have to consciously push through it and tell myself that I am allowed to feel attracted, aroused even.

When looking at a naked woman I have none of the same blocks in place and can enjoy them freely and effortlessly.

It’s something that I am pretty sure will pass eventually but it’s a pain in the rear until then!

Any newly discovered bisexual pure pansexual people out there having the same thing happen?

Myers Briggs

Myers Briggs Personality Typing is one of many ways of defining how a person will psychologically respond to a given situation, how they perceive the world and what their preferences are in terms of how they spend their time or the activities they pursue and enjoy.

Right off the bat I will say that there are several of these systems and they all have their fans and their critics. What I will say is that I have done a number of Myers Briggs Typing assessments and they always come out the same so at least it is internally consistent. I also think that it’s a fair description of me in as much as a collection of fairly general statements ever can be.

So with the disclaimer and basic explanation out of the way, lets get into the detail!

An MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) is made up of four letters, each of which has two possible results. The mathematically gifted among you will soon realise that there are sixteen types. Below is a picture showing them all handily using Phineas and Ferb characters as a reference!

Myers Briggs Types

Each of the letters is known as a dichotomy and is selected from two mutually exclusive concepts.

  1. The first dichotomy is “Attitudes” and can be either I for Introversion or E for Extroversion. This relates mainly to where a person gets their energy from, and how they are likely to be drained of that energy. A person with the Introversion type rebuilds their energy from introspection and expends it through action whereas a person with the Extroversion type will be the reverse. This isn’t quite the usually understood definition so takes a little getting your head around. An extroverts “flow” is towards people and objects whereas an introverts “flow” is towards concepts and ideas. This description is what allowed me to absolutely nail which of these I was, and why all the tests I do always agree.
  2. The second dichotomy is “Perceiving” and can be either N for Intuition or S for Sensing. This is perhaps more easily understood. People with the Sensing type tend to rely on concrete hard facts and figures; they tend to be detail orientated. People with the Intuition type will tend to rely on hunches, gut feelings, and look for broad patterns and underlying trends; they tend to be “big picture” people.
  3. The third dichotomy is “Judging” and can be either F for Feeling or T for Thinking. This is all about how a person comes to decisions. Those people who prefer “Thinking” will evaluate things from a more distant standpoint and will act based on what is logical, consistent and fitting into a set of rules. Those people who are more “Feeling” will make a decision by empathising with the situation, getting “under the skin” of the issue and coming to a “best fit” solution that provokes the greatest harmony.
  4. Finally, the fourth dichotomy is “Lifestyle” and can be either J for Judging or P for Perception. This is slightly different to the others as it describes how a person interacts with the outside world based on their other three indicators. Those who are “Judging” tend to show the world their “Judging” identifier (Feeling or Thinking) so for example a xxTJ person would appear logical and a xxFJ person would appear empathetic. Those who are “Perception” based will show the world their “Perceiving” identifier (Intuition or Sensing).

It’s all a bit confusing until you look at an example, so I will use the best example I can get my hands on, me!

My MBTI is INFJ.

Introversion – meaning I get energy from being alone and introspective thought and study.

Intuition – meaning I trust my hunches and look at the “big picture”

Feeling – I empathise with situations and try to get the best result for everyone

Judging – I appear empathetic to the world

Overall, the INFJ type is sometimes referred to as “The Councellor”. Some notable INFJs (As assessed by people remotely I imagine) include Mohandas K Ghandi, Dr Martin Luther King, Robert Burns and Nelson Mandela.

We are the rarest of the MBTIs with about 2% of the population falling to it’s clutches. I quite like this quote about INFJs

infj

I can relate to a lot of what the Dr is saying. I am a person who will analyse the hell out of a set of data, then intuitively come up with a reason for it based on a hunch or feeling given my own experience. I am creative/artistic with my photography and writing but also logical in my work which is heavily data analysis based. I often confuse people with my response to things which can be drawn form either or both ends of the above spectra!

So there is a very quick introduction to MBTI. I find it really interesting and plan on reading more about it to hopefully understand my type a bit more. I am hoping that understanding where my energy comes from and goes, and how I respond to certain things will allow me to be more comfortable and to choose to do (or not do) things in a fully aware way.

I would highly recommend anyone giving it a go. There are loads of web based MBTI tests around. I would always recommend doing several and seeing if the results match. You could then do as I am and use it as a bit of a springboard into further personal exploration (Stop sniggering at the back!).

Thank you, and a photo

I wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who has read my young blog so far. I had hoped that the blog would help me navigate towards the “me” that I want to become and it really is. I can only hope that as I continue, someone else will gain something from it too. Through the several interactions I have had so far I feel like I am stepping into a community and taking small steps towards finding new friends.

In an earlier post I said that I would occasionally be sharing some of my photos – here is the first.

Window in Black and White
Window in Black and White

I mainly like to use Black and White in my photos. I am an entirely digital photographer and love the processing side as much as composition. Mostly I take photos that highlight textures and contrasts, that’s one reason I wanted this to be the first that I shared as it has some great textures in it. I am also really pleased with the light playing through the window.

We all have things that we love doing, this is one of mine. I can lose myself in the process and create something that I find pleasing, and hopefully someone else might too although that is secondary. If you are struggling, try to find that which you enjoy and lose yourself in it for a while, it may well help you find balance.

What am I up to?

I saw on someone else’s blog recently that they make a regular post on what they are particularly enjoying at the moment. This seemed like a really good idea and something that I thought I would institute on here.

Reading!

I have always read a lot, as far back as I can remember I have had books around and have devoured pretty much any reading material that I can get my hands on. I started with The Hobbit at the age of about nine and moved on to The Lord of the Rings a few years later. That pretty much cemented me into loving fantasy. I added sci-fi in my early teens with lots of Arthur C Clarke, Orson Scott Card and Harry Harrison. More recently I have come to love the setting and flavour of “urban fantasy”. My first introduction was the Anita Blake series by Laurel K Hamilton which is great, but gets a bit samey after five or so novels. Much better examples are the Women of the Otherworld novels by Kelley Armstrong; she builds a completely believable world of the supernatural around us and alongside us. It’s one long story too, with characters dipping in and out and a very strong internal narrative.

Best of them all, and what I am currently completely addicted to is Harry Dresden. The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher are, at least to me, the finest example of urban fantasy around. Obviously I haven’t read every single series and book in the genre, but they will have to go some to beat the Dresden Files! The books are each a self contained story with Harry at the centre, but there area also a number of continuing story arcs that carry through a number of books. All manner of supernatural creatures appear both as allies and enemies. We get vampires, werewolves and all manner of Fae from the Nevernever. I won’t go into any more detail since the stories are essentially mysteries and I don’t want to spoil anything, but do give them a go!

I am currently reading Turn Coat, which is the 11th in the series and if anything they are getting more page-turney rather than less.

Music!

Another of my great loves throught my life is music. I have touched a little in previous posts about how particular musical tastes intersect with what I now know about my sexuality, but that aside I cannot imagine my life without music. It’s probably the thing I would miss most on that theoretical shipwreck isle (other than obvious things like family…). There are some bands/artists that I have been listening to since the early eighties like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Madonna, Billy Joel, Slayer, Venom, Falco and many others. I did say I have varied tastes right?

Recently I have been on a bit of a voyage of musical discovery. I have always like David Bowie for his looks (See top of the page…) but I have never really explored his music beyond the huge hits that most people will have at least a passing familiarity with. I decided that I was going to listen to some complete albums and see what I thought. I put “Best Bowie albums” into google and found this list which seemed as good a place to start as any.

I started with Low, which is the first of the Berlin trilogy of albums released in the late seventies. It’s an unusual album with quite a heavy electronic flavour to it. It’s also quite dark, having been written at the height of Bowie’s cocaine habit.

After that I moved on to Hunky Dory, a much earlier album from 1971 that has “Changes” on it, one of Bowie’s most recognisable tracks. This album has a completely different feel, as if it is from 20 years apart from Low rather than just six. Station to Station, Aladdin Sane and (The Rise and Fall of ) Ziggy Stardust (and the Spiders from Mars) have been on constant rotation on my Spotify account for the last couple of weeks. David is one hell of a talent, to be able to be so damn good at so many different styles is almost inhuman.

OK so that was a bit longer than expected, and in my trademark rambling style to boot 🙂

What are you up to?