Opening Up...

Hey guys,

I know, I know, it's been a while, but words can't describe how busy I've been. Between my day job, photography, and just life, things have been PRETTY crazy! There's been quite a few highs, but also a few lows. Basically, there's been a TON of work for me, both at my day job, and with clients booking me for photography, and while that's been great, I still feel like I'm not where I'm supposed to be. It's hard to explain, and I usually keep these kinds of things bottled up, but I decided to turn to writing to get my feelings off my chest. That being said, I'm going to start blogging again, once a week, on not only my photography, but also my personal life.

This first blog post is going to focus on one main point that I just need to get off my chest. In short, I'm not happy.

Let's start from the beginning. Growing up in The Bahamas, you'd think I'd love my surroundings. When you think of The Bahamas, you think of the beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and drinking pina coladas on the regular. While that might be true for people with an endless stream of money, people still need to work for a living, and from an early age, I knew that The Bahamas wasn't the place I wanted to live forever. In addition to that, The Bahamas (at the time) wasn't known for supporting the arts, and I knew that I wanted to be in a field that had to do with creativity, whether it be writing, videography, or photography.

I grew up on an island that was only 21x7 miles, which made everything feel very suffocating. Everyone knows everyone, and it just didn't feel like I had any privacy. If I was dating someone, literally everyone on the island knew, and if someone saw me talking to another girl by chance, they would run to my girlfriend and start drama. Suffering from social anxiety, this made things very hectic for me in my mind, and I knew I needed to get out.

I begged my parents to send me to boarding school in Florida, and when I was there, it became clear that I just really didn't want to be in The Bahamas anymore. The hardest part about being exposed to the "outside world" was the fact that I had to return to The Bahamas to start working. I studied and took the exam to get my real estate license, and once I got it, I started working for a luxury real estate broker. I knew this wasn't my calling, but this was when I started to make money outside working for the family, so I stuck with it.

The job itself was very draining, so I decided to take up a hobby in videography. I started to create comedic YouTube videos mocking Bahamian culture, and it blew up. Some of my videos were getting over 30,000 views, and people started treating me like a celebrity, crying when they met me etc. The whole thing was pretty crazy, but it was fun, so I stuck with it. I actually shared my YouTube channel with one of my close friends at the time, and together we took The Bahamas by storm.

It's so funny how even though I was having fun and getting all these YouTube views, I wasn't making any money from it. It was hard for me because I knew I wanted to create, but The Bahamas wasn't ready to support that kind of content in a way which I could make a living from, and it really started to get to me. A lot of my skits would involve me putting on a wig and mocking Bahamian women, which also led to a lot of death threats, and people accusing me of being gay. This made it harder for me to feel comfortable leaving my home, and over time, I was just over everything.

Fast forward a few years, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I needed to get off that island, and I couldn't find a better time to do it than right after a breakup with my girlfriend of 3 years. We broke up and about a week or two later I found out she was having a 'thing' with one of my friends, and I lost it. I packed my bags with my family, and we were off to LA.

When I first I moved here, my main goal was to find a job so that I can afford rent, but I knew I still wanted to be a creator of some sort. After landing a job as a furniture salesman, I decided to start my blog where I wrote about fashion, and started an exciting series where I interviewed my favorite models. Things really started to look up when I interviewed Amanda Cerny, who had about 6 million followers at the time of our interview. When she shared the interview, my blog blew up!

I started getting emails from models that wanted me to interview them, and things got exciting when I got to interview a model that was about to be signed with Sports Illustrated. I went through the motions and got all of my questions answered, and right when I was about to publish the interview, I got an email from Sports Illustrated saying I couldn't use the photos she sent me until they were published. This put a hold on publishing the interview, and it really got me thinking. I should be taking photos of the models I interviewed! That's essentially how I got into photography, and ever since I picked up a camera, I never wanted to put it down.

Whenever I had a long day at work, instead of coming home to relax and get in bed, I wanted to come home and study photography. I watched tons of YouTube videos, and studied my favorite photographers until I developed my own style. The thing about my style is that I edit photos based on how I'm feeling, and if you look at some of my previous work, you'll see that my style was very bright and colorful. I bring this up to point out that over the past few months, I noticed that my work has gotten very dark and moody, and even though this isn't a bad thing, it made me realize how I truly feel deep down.

Over the past few months, I realized that I'm not as happy as I was when I first moved to LA. All the excitement of being in a big city is gone, and my days are starting to feel repetitive. I landed a great job as an Assistant Manager at the luxury apartment community I live in, but the job itself is destroying a part of who I am. I like to think of myself as a kind, generous, and most of all, empathetic person. I always put myself in someone else's shoes to understand their point of view, and try my best to make sure they're happy. I guess this is how I cope with my unhappiness, feeding off of making other people happy. The reason I bring this up is because my job description requires me to be, well, an asshole.

My literal job description is to do things such as send people to evictions, send people to collections, and enforce the rules and policies of the community regardless of someone's personal situation. Some of the things I deal with on a daily basis are having resident come into my office and cry to me because they just got let go and have no way to pay rent, and I have to look at them in their eyes and tell them there's nothing I can do to help. I literally have to tell them that no matter what their story is, if their rent isn't paid by a certain date, I'm going to be filing for eviction, regardless of how this is going to affect their life, credit, or even children. 

One day I towed a car that didn't have the parking pass it needed to be parked there, and later on that day I had the owner come into my office crying saying that her daughter missed her speech therapy class because of this, and that she didn't have the money to pay the tow company for the ticket, all because her parking pass slipped off her dashboard when she parked. I had to look her in the face and pretty much say, "Oh well, you should have followed the rules".

Situations like this don't feel like much at the time, but when things like this happen on a daily basis, it starts to numb you. I'm becoming an asshole that I don't want to be, just because it's my job description, and I hate it. It's starting to affect my mental health, and I'm just not quite sure how much I can take.

To get my mind off of work, I've always turned to my photography, and now even that is starting to depress me. My severe hatred for my day job has given me motivation to make photography my primary source of income, but things just aren't happening the way I'd like them to, and it brings me down. It's hard to be in Los Angeles as a photographer and try to make a living, because there's simply too much competition, and it's not easy to accept. Everything is a "collab", and hardly anyone values your work enough to pay you because they know they only need to send a DM to another photographer and get to shoot for free. The whole system is very discouraging.

On top of that, I scroll Instagram and see so many photographers hustling and creating amazing art, which, in turn, makes me feel like I'm not successful enough, like I'm not good enough. It's gotten to the point where I start to get anxious when I open Instagram because I don't know if a post is going to trigger depression or envy. Something that I never thought I'd ever speak about (or write about in this case), is that fact that I've been having suicidal thoughts recently. Before you get worried, I would never do something like that because I know that there is too much of the world I want to see before I die, but that doesn't change the fact that the thoughts are there. A few weeks ago I had a photoshoot on a railroad, and as the train was approaching, I found myself thinking how easy it would be to just step in front of it as it flew by. This wasn't the first of these thoughts I've been having either, but now it's really starting to get bad.

All of this being said, I haven't been motivated to shoot as much as I used to, and life is just starting to seem like a downward spiral into some dark and depressing abyss, and I'm not quite sure how to cope with these emotions. This is why my recent work has been much darker than it used to, tapping into a part of me that I didn't even know was there until it was brought to my attention. One of my followers actually asked if everything was ok with me because they could tell through my work that something was up.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, I'm also tackling some debt that I've accumulated since moving to LA which is just extra weight on my shoulders that I really don't need right now. Over the years I've had to pay for Ubers to photoshoots, camera equipment, maintenance etc, and it's really added up. I'll write about this in more detail in another blog post, but the debt is what's stopping me from quitting my job and moving to another state where expenses are less expensive, because my job is safe and it pays the bills. This makes me feel trapped. I went from being trapped on a 21x7-mile island, to being trapped in a job I hate, and it honestly feels like there's no escape.

One of the things that really got to me was the fact that I felt like I had no one to talk to. Ever since I've moved to LA, I haven't really invested in any sort of friendships. Don't get me wrong, I made a LOT of friends here, I just never allowed myself to open up to the point where I can go to someone about these kinds of things, and it's really starting to bite me in the ass. That being said, I've made it a point to try and get myself out there more, accepting invitations to parties, and even starting to date again, which honestly feels a bit foreign to me. After my last few relationships, it's been extremely hard for me to really open up to someone, and be vulnerable. A part of it has to do with trust issues, but I think it mainly stems from me not being able to handle another heartbreak right now. That would be the thing to really push me over the edge, and it's just something I'm not prepared to handle, but I'm still trying.

Going in to this blog post, I was only writing it because a lot of my followers were genuinely interested about my personal life, but after putting my feelings into words, I think I'm going to make this an ongoing thing. I want to document my progress from this depressed state of mind to whatever state of mind the future holds. I want to turn to writing as a way to get things off my chest, and I want to document my highs and my lows. I'll be blogging about my personal life, and also about photography. I want to make this my main source to showcase my work, gravitating further and further away from Instagram. If you want to tag along for the journey, feel free to subscribe below.

Until next time,

Tristan

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