There are two main news stories right now about students enacting change on campus, and I won’t get mired down in details or opinions. One comment a student made stuck in my head though, and I’ve been mulling it over, along with thoughts about the campus situations and the conversations about race going on in our country right now. Go to this Atlantic article for a thoughtful look at the Yale story that began with an administrative admonition about potentially offensive Halloween costumes.
Specifically, the student (unnamed in the article, although I’m sure you can find them named elsewhere) wrote “I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.”
I began my adult life as a naive idiot. I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve been through a lot, including a lot of heartbreaking things. Not as bad as some people have it, for sure, but enough to state that yes, I’ve known pain. Mental, emotional, and even physical pain. Some of it was bearable, some of it was heartbreaking, and some of it I still deal with to this day.
I could be a rare bird or whatever, but in my experience, the more people hurt, the less they want to say about it. I rarely hear someone say “let’s talk about how I’m feeling” after experiencing the death of a loved one. One of my own painful experiences – multiple miscarriages – is not something I ever hear talked about in casual conversation.
That said, it’s purely anecdotal and a massive generalization. Take my opinion for what it is.
I don’t want to talk about my pain. I don’t want YOU talking about my pain. Bringing this kind of thing up makes everyone uncomfortable: they don’t know what to say, or how to relate, or even to how to be compassionate or empathetic. I want to suffer through it without your well-meaning, clumsy comments that only inflict more pain. Later, when I’m better able to cope, perhaps I’ll tell you a little about it if I know you really well and I feel emotionally stable enough to do it.
Perhaps this isn’t a healthy way to live. It reeks of paranoia and privacy. It can go overboard to internalizing issues instead of dealing with them. I don’t know.
All I know is this: in my experience, people who say “I want to talk about my pain” are one of two things. Either they’re extraordinarily strong emotionally, or drumming up angst to make themselves feel important.
So how does this relate in any way to the image in this post? I gravitate towards photographing things that stand alone. Alone. That’s the most I feel like saying.