We are all Human: A Reflection of 50 Portraits

51 Portraits

As I have just posted my 50th portrait, I figure it’s about time for me to post a journal outlining what I have learned thus far. I’ve been so busy lately that I have not had the time to really analyze what I have learned during my photography project. First, I would like to explain how interesting and difficult this has been. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be difficult to approach people but every person brings it’s new set of challenges, but this is also why it’s interesting. I found that I have to adapt to every person I approach and change the way in which I communicate in order to be effective and make someone feel comfortable speaking with me. I realized that not only am I intimidated by the people I approach but they are also intimidated by me. I think that most people you approach form a judgement of who you are within the first 5 seconds of meeting you. When someone meets you their mind creates a brief simulation of what they perceive you to be like based on your appearance, approach, tone, intention, smell, etc. This is an essential evolutionary trait used to detect whether someone is a threat or not. I had to be very conscious of the way I was appearing to somebody so I set some guidelines to help improve the way in which I was perceived.

  1. NEVER approach someone from behind. Always approach someone so they can see you coming, don’t be a creep.
  2. Depending on the type of person (girls mostly), I always kneel before them or sit on the ground so I’m not towering over them because that’s intimidating.
  3. Always try to look clean and approachable. If I look like a dirtbag nobody is going to feel comfortable talking to me.
  4. Always be honest, clear, concise and look into someones eyes when they are speaking.
  5. Monitor your body language. What is your body language telling someone? 

This leads me to the most essential things that I have learned during this project.

     1. Comfortability in communication is different for everybody: Everybody has different things that make them feel comfortable. It could be the way you speak, approach them or even the way you listen to them. Some people are very uncomfortable with eye contact, some need eye contact to feel that they can trust you. It is important for me to be conscious of how comfortable or uncomfortable I am making someone. Some people just don’t want to be approached in general and that needs to be respected.

     2. People are not very good listeners (including myself): Often times when someone speaks we are immediately thinking of how to respond or what our opinion is on the subject. We are waiting for our turn to talk and we generally lose a lot of information during this process. I first realized this when I began forgetting someones name seconds after them telling me. Was I even listening to them? I was thinking about telling them my name and introducing myself but why? I already know my name, that shouldn’t be important to me. To combat this I try to hold off thinking about my opinion or what I’d like to say until after someone is speaking. Instead, I try to think of what the person is saying and why they are saying it. This leads me to the next lesson.

     3. It’s not what people say, it’s why they say it: From the start I was interested in why people said things or why people felt a particular way. What I found is this is exponentially more important than what they are saying. Perhaps, what someone is saying is not the only message they are trying to send. If you look into why they said it you can find out so much more about who that person really is and what they really believe in.

     4. Connections can be formed without sharing interests: Connecting with someone in an intimate way is an important aspect of human interaction. It’s also much more complex than what I have gathered in the last month. However, I’ve found that I can easily form connections with people that I share no similar interest with. We can be from completely different cultures, parts of the world, languages and have completely different interests but connection is most often facilitated by shared values and outlooks on life.

     5. We have no idea what we want, except to be happy: So many people I have spoke to have no idea what they want to accomplish or what their goals are in life. Many students have changed their major or are considering changing their major in the future. Every person that I have spoke to claimed they want to achieve everlasting happiness regardless of if they knew what career they wanted. Maybe this is due to our constantly changing environment. Technologies, trends, etc. change every day so why wouldn’t our interests?

     6. We share many of the same fears: A majority of people I spoke with claimed to be afraid of not being true to themselves, not figuring out what’s important and not being able to form effective relationships. Even people from different parts of the world, cultures and languages had similar fears.

     7. We are all vulnerable: We all have fears, doubts, insecurities, etc. We all have these points of vulnerability. I noticed that most students’ guard dropped when I revealed that I am equally vulnerable. Reveal something honest about yourself and you will be surprised how much more willing someone is to be open with you.

     8. Never judge a book by it’s cover: Every time I approach someone, I create this simulation of who they are in my head. Every single time I am dead wrong. I’m often impressed by what people have to say and by how different they are from my initial judgement.

     9. Always give the benefit of the doubt: We’ve all gotten angry with someone over how they are acting. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are having a bad or exhausting day. In Psychology this is called the Fundamental Attribution Error – Basically if someone else fucks up, you think they are a shitty person because you don’t know anything else about them. If you fuck up, you can say “I had a long day”.

      10. We are all human: In the end, we are all human. We may seem so different based on our appearance, cultures, languages, etc. but we share many of the same core values that make us who we are. Next time you think negatively about someone just say “We are both human.” That person may not be someone you particularly like, but they are just as human as you are so let them be.

     The most difficult part of this has been staying on task. Often times I’m afraid to approach people. I find myself making excuses when deciding whether to approach somebody. I find that it’s difficult to approach people in groups because they are less willing to be open. The same goes for someone sitting alone but near other people. It’s also difficult on a college campus because so many people have something to do. Many students have class or tests to study for and don’t have 20 minutes to have an intimate conversation. As the weather becomes colder, more students are huddling inside making it difficult for me to reach my goal. I have also been very busy with my own life and struggling in school myself. I feel that I have not been as motivated as I was during the start of this project. Not because I have lost interest but because I have become discouraged. I hope to finish this project by the end of the semester. If I am unable to finish this semester I will continue the project in the future.

100 Stranger Photograph Project

     I’ve always been fascinated by photography, particularly in portraits. I am inspired by Brandon Stanton’s photo blog “Humans of New York” and I decided to pick up photography using my mother’s unused Nikon 60D. Mostly because I have a passion for people, technology and art so why not pick up a hobby that combines the three! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I am a photographer. In fact, I barely know anything about photography. I am using this project to practice and learn more about photography as well as learn more about people. I decided to take up the project of photographing 100 strangers and what better place than Stony Brook University, the campus I attend every day. After the first day I realized that photographing strangers is well… strange! It was also incredibly exciting and left me filled with adrenaline after each portrait. There’s something about taking a candid photo of someone you don’t know that feels incredible.

Follow me during this project right here or over at my project instagram @HumanExperienceProject

START: 10/06/14 || END: Ongoing

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#1: There is no better feeling than making your subject smile.

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#2: “Is this for the no smoking campaign? Hold on I’m gonna go toss this”

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#3: At first she was very shy, but then she began to giggle and smile; and that moment made my day.

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#4: People rarely read the newspaper these days. I admire this guy because he was the only one not on his phone.

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#5: Reading a book in the shade

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#6: Candid smoke sesh outside Frey Hall

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#7: Just catching up with his buddy

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#8: He told me he was studying hard for an exam

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#9: Everybody says they don’t look good in photos, but they’re usually wrong. We had a great conversation, I hope I didn’t make you too late to your midterm.

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#10: Often times, those that appear the most shy exhibit the most profound beauty.

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#11: This beautiful baby girl had the most irresistible vivid eyes.

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#12: I was really diggin’ this dude’s mustache. Surprisingly, he was also the first person to ask if I was going to post his photo.

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#13: I love finding people hidden off by themselves.

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#14: When I asked this man for his photo he said “Who ME!?” and let out a nice chuckle which made me laugh, so it was a good day.

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#15: She seemed really suspicious of me taking a photo of her but in the end she allowed me to. I think you can see the suspicion in her facial expression.

#16: "I don't know what makes a good picture or what makes people interested. I get into photoshop a lot, I like making women look beautiful"

#16: “I don’t know what makes a good picture or what makes people interested. I get into Photoshop a lot, I like making women look beautiful”

#17: "You see how those clouds form in waves? Before they looked like UFO's. Those are Lenticular Clouds, they normally form near mountain ranges." What brings them over here? "I'm not entirely sure so I'm trying to get pictures of them, it will probably be a case study"

#17: “You see how those clouds formed in waves? Before they looked like UFO’s. Those are Lenticular Clouds, they normally form near mountain ranges.”
– What brings them over here?
“I’m not entirely sure so I’m trying to get pictures of them, it will probably be a case study”

#18: "My greatest struggle has been staying true to myself"

#18: “My greatest struggle has been staying true to myself”

#19: If you could give one piece of advice to the world what would it be? "Don't forget to eat"

#19: – If you could give one piece of advice to the world what would it be?
“Don’t forget to eat”

#20: "I used to go to school in Syracuse. My immediate family lives here but my friends and the rest of my family are in Syracuse. My biggest struggle has been being away from them."

#20: “I used to go to school in Syracuse. My immediate family lives here but my friends and the rest of my family are in Syracuse. My biggest struggle has been being away from them.”

#21: "I have a quick survey question if you have a second?" - Sure "If you could pick one thing that a girl shouldn't judge a guy on what would it be?" - Beard Length

#21: “I have a quick survey question if you have a second?”
– Sure
“If you could pick one thing that a girl shouldn’t judge a guy on what would it be?”
– Beard Length

What has been your greatest struggle? "Overcoming my self and the instincts that lead us to make poor decisions. To be okay with discomfort in life and to not run away towards some sort of escape."

#22: – What has been your greatest struggle?
“Overcoming my self and the instincts that lead us to make poor decisions. Also, to be okay with discomfort in life and to not run away towards some sort of escape.”

#23:  – Tell me a little bit about Camp Kesem
“Camp Kesem is a non-profit organization that helps children who’s parents have struggled with, overcame, or lost the battle to cancer. It’s a free program and a great opportunity for children to establish a group of peers who have been through similar struggles. This whole week we’ve had Kesem week to spread awareness and raise money so these kids can go to camp.”
- Why are you giving out free hugs?
“Today is our last day of Kesem week so we’re giving out hugs because hugs make people feel amazing.”

If you could give one piece of advice to the world what would it be?  "To always appreciate your self. In high school, I was stuck in relationships that maybe I wasn't meant to be in because I guess I wasn't confident in myself. Being out of those relationships has made me realize that you have to be your own best friend before you can be with others."

#24: – If you could give one piece of advice to the world what would it be?
“To always appreciate your self. In high school, I was stuck in relationships that maybe I wasn’t meant to be in because I guess I wasn’t confident in myself. Being out of those relationships has made me realize that you have to be your own best friend before you can be with others.”

What are you most proud of?  "The capacity to love."  Tell me about your ability to love  "Theres a quote that goes something like, 'How could a rose have thorns? But a better question to ask is isn't it amazing that a thorn bush has roses?' The capacity of love is just that, despite everything that's happening people are still people. Deep down we all want the same thing and that’s to be loved, to care for others and to share the love and passions inside of us. We should also always feel gratitude. To sit here and talk to you about this right now is the best thing in my life because this moment right now is the only thing that exists. The now is tainted with our perception of it. You should see things for as they are, not what they have been or what they will be but what they are in this very moment."

#25: – What are you most proud of?
“The capacity to love.”
- Tell me about your ability to love
“Theres a quote that goes something like, ‘How could a rose have thorns? But a better question to ask is isn’t it amazing that a thorn bush has roses?’ The capacity of love is just that, despite everything that’s happening people are still people. Deep down we all want the same thing and that’s to be loved, to care for others and to share the love and passions inside of us. We should also always feel gratitude. To sit here and talk to you about this right now is the best thing in my life because this moment right now is the only thing that exists. The now is tainted with our perception of it. You should see things for as they are, not what they have been or what they will be but what they are in this very moment.”

"I’m in the process of coming out to my family that I’m gay. The most difficult part has been actually saying it. So far my parents have either been alright with it or apathetic but I’ve always expected that. Not telling anybody for so long has left me in a weird state where I expect to get bad reactions. The first person I ever told was a very good friend of mine and she said, ‘I love you and I support you but I will never ever approve of that’ It brought a lot of things into perspective for me. The next person I told was the absolute best person I could have told and he is incredibly supportive of me. But ya know what, none of this changes the fact that I'm in a good college, that I’m doing what I want to do and that I am who I am."

#26: “I’m in the process of coming out to my family that I’m gay. The most difficult part has been actually saying it. So far my parents have either been alright with it or apathetic but I’ve always expected that. Not telling anybody for so long has left me in a weird state where I expect to get bad reactions. The first person I ever told was a very good friend of mine and she said, ‘I love you and I support you but I will never ever approve of that’ It brought a lot of things into perspective for me. The next person I told was the absolute best person I could have told and he is incredibly supportive of me. But ya know what, none of this changes the fact that I’m in a good college, that I’m doing what I want to do and that I am who I am.”

How do you want to help people? "I want to make people happy because sometimes its really hard to do that." Tell me about a time when you found it difficult to be happy? "I changed from pre-med to pre-nursing and transferred from another school. The semester before I transferred I was very doubtful of getting into Stony Brook, but I got in and I was extremely happy. I remember when my mom called me to tell me the letter came in and I cried.”

#27: – How do you want to help people?
“I want to make people happy because sometimes its really hard to do that.”
- Tell me about a time when you found it difficult to be happy?
“I changed from pre-med to pre-nursing and transferred from another school. The semester before I transferred I was very doubtful of getting into Stony Brook, but I got in and I was extremely happy. I remember when my mom called me to tell me the letter came in and I cried.”

- What do you think it means to connect with someone? "When you're able to identify them as someone who is easy to talk to and has something genuine they want to share with you . You can move past the small talk a little and share what's really going on with you."

#28: – What do you think it means to connect with someone?
“When you’re able to identify them as someone who is easy to talk to and has something genuine they want to share with you . You can move past the small talk a little and share what’s really going on with you.”

- What are you most afraid of?  "Not having genuine relationships because the most important thing is forming honest connections with people, what do you have if not that?"  - Why are you fearful of that?  "I've settled a lot and watch people settle all the time. I think it's difficult to stop settling and find a person you fully resonate with."  - What do you think the most important element of connecting with someone is?  "Honesty. Sharing your most honest self and expecting the same from that person. I find that I give more than I get sometimes and thats hard because people are guarded. This guard prevents them from being the best version of themselves and in turn inhibits successful connections."

#29: – What are you most afraid of?
“Not having genuine relationships because the most important thing is forming honest connections with people, what do you have if not that?”
– Why are you fearful of that?
“I’ve settled a lot and watch people settle all the time. I think it’s difficult to stop settling and find a person you fully resonate with.”
– What do you think the most important element of connecting with someone is?
“Honesty. Sharing your most honest self and expecting the same from that person. I find that I give more than I get sometimes and that’s hard because people are guarded. This guard prevents them from being the best version of themselves and in turn inhibits successful connections.”

- What are you most proud of?  "I’m proud of the fact I’m still here despite all that I have been through." What has been your greatest struggle? "My birth mom died when I was six and my step mom died a couple of years ago, both of cancer." - What has been the most difficult part of that?  "Well my birth mom was in remission so it was a big surprise when she died and I don’t have any memory of her. My step mom went through six months of extreme degeneration and seeing what happened to her physically was very hard. It happened very fast and we knew from the start what was happening to her, we knew that she was going to die. I wasn't particularly close with her but she had been my step mom since I was seven, it felt like she was my mom and I loved her."

#30: – What are you most proud of?
“I’m proud of the fact I’m still here despite all that I have been through.”
What has been your greatest struggle?
“My birth mom died when I was six and my step mom died a couple of years ago, both of cancer.”
– What has been the most difficult part of that?
“Well my birth mom was in remission so it was a big surprise when she died and I don’t have any memory of her. My step mom went through six months of extreme degeneration and seeing what happened to her physically was very hard. It happened very fast and we knew from the start what was happening to her, we knew that she was going to die. I wasn’t particularly close with her but she had been my step mom since I was seven, it felt like she was my mom and I loved her.”

This is Paul. He was pretty set on this pose so I thought I'd let his awesome style speak for itself.

#31: This is Paul. He was pretty set on this pose so I thought I’d let his awesome style speak for itself.

"Social boundaries prevent you from doing certain things around people. I feel really connected with my girlfriend. I've known her a while and we have a lot of memories."  - Tell me about your greatest memory with her? "It wasn't really happy but, but one time we parked my car in a carpool lot because our parents wouldn't let us sleep over. For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to have a couple four-lokos in the front seat. The cops came and saw the alcohol so they searched my car but we ended up getting out of it."

#32: “Social boundaries prevent you from doing certain things around people. I feel really connected with my girlfriend. I’ve known her a while and we have a lot of memories.” 
– Tell me about your greatest memory with her?
“It wasn’t really happy but, but one time we parked my car in a carpool lot because our parents wouldn’t let us sleep over. For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to have a couple four-lokos in the front seat. The cops came and saw the alcohol so they searched my car but we ended up getting out of it.”

What do you think it means to be truly connected with somebody?  "I think it means to not only be connected with them physically but with their soul. Being connected has to do with your mindset. You connect physically, mentally, emotionally and it really doesn't happen a lot. It's rare these days to really connect with someone."  - Tell me about a time when you felt connected to somebody?  "Right now, with you. I think it's great that you're here talking to me."  - What makes you feel connected to me?  "I think the fact that you're an objective complete stranger. It gives me the opportunity to get something off my chest. You don't open up to someone unless they have a warm personality and they are willing to offer part of themselves."

#33: What do you think it means to be truly connected with somebody?
“I think it means to not only be connected with them physically but with their soul. Being connected has to do with your mindset. You connect physically, mentally, emotionally and it really doesn’t happen a lot. It’s rare these days to really connect with someone.”
– Tell me about a time when you felt connected to somebody?
“Right now, with you. I think it’s great that you’re here talking to me.”
– What makes you feel connected to me?
“I think the fact that you’re an objective complete stranger. It gives me the opportunity to get something off my chest. You don’t open up to someone unless they have a warm personality and they are willing to offer part of themselves.”

- What's the best memory you have with your wife? "The birth of our kids. It's a miracle to see your kids born and to share that with someone. When you're sitting next to your wife in bed, holding your baby in your arms it feels like a miracle." - Whats the hardest thing about being a father? "Letting go, letting them live their life" - What do you want for your kids? "I want them to be happy, they don't need to make a lot of money they just need to do something that makes them happy. I want them to do something they're passionate about."

#34: – What’s the best memory you have with your wife?
“The birth of our kids. It’s a miracle to see your kids born and to share that with someone. When you’re sitting next to your wife in bed, holding your baby in your arms it feels like a miracle.”
– Whats the hardest thing about being a father?
“Letting go, letting them live their life”
– What do you want for your kids?
“I want them to be happy, they don’t need to make a lot of money they just need to do something that makes them happy. I want them to do something they’re passionate about.”

- What do you think it means to really connect with someone? "That's actually a very difficult question. I recently found that I'm not very compatible. I've found that my only means of communication is analysis. Beyond that, I don't really know what to talk about and I force conversation that doesn't form connections. I think people often inhibit themselves because they don't want to come off in a poor way as opposed to someone who is open and comfortable with themselves. When you have those qualities it allows you to flourish in relationships."

#35: – What do you think it means to really connect with someone?
“That’s actually a very difficult question. I recently found that I’m not very compatible. I’ve found that my only means of communication is analysis. Beyond that, I don’t really know what to talk about and I force conversation that doesn’t form connections. I think people often inhibit themselves because they don’t want to come off in a poor way as opposed to someone who is open and comfortable with themselves. When you have those qualities it allows you to flourish in relationships.”

- If you could be any color what would it be? "Any color? That's a difficult question. I think it would be sky blue because that has always been my favorite color. It also most closely resembles my calm personality. I think I would have to choose brown though because well.. (points at skin) that's what I'm used to."

#36: – If you could be any color what would it be?
“Any color? That’s a difficult question. I think it would be sky blue because that has always been my favorite color. It also most closely resembles my calm personality. I think I would have to choose brown though because well.. (points at skin) that’s what I’m used to.”

- What do you think it means to be truly connected to somebody?  "I think you can trust that they have the same feelings you do. When you say you love them you can trust that they will say it back." - Tell me about a time when you felt this way. "I was really frightened to tell a girl I loved her because it wasn't considered acceptable. She was older than me and although we knew it wasn't acceptable we were able to open up to each other. She was just always there, we were very much alike and no matter what, I could trust that she would be there for me. She was very communicative and we talked about everything together, I guess that's why we fell in love"

#37: – What do you think it means to be truly connected to somebody?
“I think you can trust that they have the same feelings you do. When you say you love them you can trust that they will say it back.” – Tell me about a time when you felt this way. “I was really frightened to tell a girl I loved her because it wasn’t considered acceptable. She was older than me and although we knew it wasn’t acceptable we were able to open up to each other. She was just always there, we were very much alike and no matter what, I could trust that she would be there for me. She was very communicative and we talked about everything together, I guess that’s why we fell in love”

 "I feel as though people just click. You can't force friendships, or it won't work. Ive tried to make friends, but it just feels like work rather than a fun friendship. I just have my best friend Ali. We just met while walking to McDonalds waiting for a friend of ours. For some reason, I just felt so comfortable with her. So before I knew it we became best friends and 5 years later we're still best friends."

#38: “I feel as though people just click. You can’t force friendships, or it won’t work. Ive tried to make friends, but it just feels like work rather than a fun friendship. I just have my best friend Ali. We just met while walking to McDonalds waiting for a friend of ours. For some reason, I just felt so comfortable with her. So before I knew it we became best friends and 5 years later we’re still best friends.”

-What do you think it means to truly connect with someone? "I think people find stronger connections with others on different things. For me, it's mostly down to instinct and how attuned to each others frequencies we are - but in a more solid sense, what I connect with mostly in another person is both breadth and depth in interests and outlook on life.” -Tell me about a time you truly connected with someone? "In the summer I took a trip to Canada; initially just to see my friend Nate who went to school with me for a couple years - I didn't expect to meet through his friend of a friend the first person in ten years that I could call none other than my best friend. Not only did we have almost everything in common in terms of interest, but I found myself always learning from him and encouraged by him - and him me. I was surprised that halfway around the world I could meet someone I connected with on so many levels, and the slim chance of the circumstances of our meeting only made it that much more special." -What allowed you to connect to him on such a personal level? "I think Abdulla is a great example of someone who I share a frequency with - our outlook on life is optimistic, curious and accepting of the unknown. I have found no shortage of people who I share interests with, but how we approach the activity of living - which encompasses all else - really harmonises with each other's views; I feel like we are two sides of the same coin."

#39: -What do you think it means to truly connect with someone?
“I think people find stronger connections with others on different things. For me, it’s mostly down to instinct and how attuned to each others frequencies we are – but in a more solid sense, what I connect with mostly in another person is both breadth and depth in interests and outlook on life.”
-Tell me about a time you truly connected with someone?
“In the summer I took a trip to Canada; initially just to see my friend Nate who went to school with me for a couple years – I didn’t expect to meet through his friend of a friend the first person in ten years that I could call none other than my best friend. Not only did we have almost everything in common in terms of interest, but I found myself always learning from him and encouraged by him – and him me. I was surprised that halfway around the world I could meet someone I connected with on so many levels, and the slim chance of the circumstances of our meeting only made it that much more special.”
-What allowed you to connect to him on such a personal level?
“I think Abdulla is a great example of someone who I share a frequency with – our outlook on life is optimistic, curious and accepting of the unknown. I have found no shortage of people who I share interests with, but how we approach the activity of living – which encompasses all else – really harmonises with each other’s views; I feel like we are two sides of the same coin.”

- What is your goal in life?  "I wanna get involved in politics. Ultimately, I would really like to be president. It's kind of an impossible goal and everybody thinks it's crazy but I want to fix our government " - What do you think it means to connect with someone? "I think it comes down to really understanding someone. If you don't understand someone than you really have no connection with them. When I was 7 my parents divorced and my whole family kinda split apart and for a long time I felt alone. Then I started taekwondo and I started forming connections with people and making really close friends. We all had a common interest and a common goal and that allowed me to get a good response from them."

#40: – What is your goal in life?
“I wanna get involved in politics. Ultimately, I would really like to be president. It’s kind of an impossible goal and everybody thinks it’s crazy but I want to fix our government ” – What do you think it means to connect with someone? “I think it comes down to really understanding someone. If you don’t understand someone than you really have no connection with them. When I was 7 my parents divorced and my whole family kinda split apart and for a long time I felt alone. Then I started taekwondo and I started forming connections with people and making really close friends. We all had a common interest and a common goal and that allowed me to get a good response from them.”

- Tell me about a time when you really connected with somebody?  "It's funny that you say that because I'm actually thinking of a friend of mine that I met in class. She was really nice and she can make anything into something funny. I'm from El Salvador and she is from Ecuador so we're from similar backgrounds. We're both from Spanish countries so we share a lot of cultural similarities and that makes it really easy for us to connect."

#41: – Tell me about a time when you really connected with somebody?
“It’s funny that you say that because I’m actually thinking of a friend of mine that I met in class. She was really nice and she can make anything into something funny. I’m from El Salvador and she is from Ecuador so we’re from similar backgrounds. We’re both from Spanish countries so we share a lot of cultural similarities and that makes it really easy for us to connect.”

"Today I actually got out of bed and made it to class. I just really enjoy sleeping. If I could I'd sleep 12 hours a day. That's why I don't ever make early classes. I had an 8am class once.. that was a mistake."

#42: “Today I actually got out of bed and made it to class. I just really enjoy sleeping. If I could, I’d sleep 12 hours a day. That’s why I don’t ever make early classes. I had an 8am class once.. that was a mistake.”

"There was a pie baking in the oven and it felt like everything was exactly as it should be. We were alone together, dancing in my living room and I wasn't hiding anything or trying to behave a certain way. It was such a happy time that I'll always cherish. Sometimes I put up a front, but in that moment, it didn't exist and I felt free. We're in different parts of our lives now. We understand that now isn't a good time to have a healthy relationship together. We're still close and I'm looking forward to the future and the opportunities we might be able to experience together again someday."

#43: “There was a pie baking in the oven and it felt like everything was exactly as it should be. We were alone together, dancing in my living room and I wasn’t hiding anything or trying to behave a certain way. It was such a happy time that I’ll always cherish. Sometimes I put up a front, but in that moment, it didn’t exist and I felt free. We’re in different parts of our lives now. We understand that now isn’t a good time to have a healthy relationship together. We’re still close and I’m looking forward to the future and the opportunities we might be able to experience together again someday.”

"Essentially we're all the same, we're all human and we all have vulnerabilities. While in Philadelphia, I met this guy from England who was traveling around the US. I realized I liked him a lot the first corny joke he made. I grabbed my friend and said 'Did you hear that?' We ended up developing this really strong connection really quickly. It's easy for us to connect with each other because we have similar views of the world. We have these really strong feelings for each other and I guess we will just have to see how it plays out."

#44: “Essentially we’re all the same, we’re all human and we all have vulnerabilities. While in Philadelphia, I met this guy from England who was traveling around the US. I realized I liked him a lot the first corny joke he made. I grabbed my friend and said ‘Did you hear that?’ We ended up developing this really strong connection really quickly. It’s easy for us to connect with each other because we have similar views of the world. We have these really strong feelings for each other and I guess we will just have to see how it plays out.”

"She accepts me even when I'm a dumbass."

#45: “She accepts me even when I’m a dumbass.”

"I think connecting with someone means being able to open up to them. I feel the most connected to someone when all of our walls and guards are down and there's nothing standing between us. Just raw intimate honesty. Not long after meeting one of my really good friends, we found out that we had been through the same tragedy not too long before that day. I found out his mom had passed away less than a year before mine did and that we had both experienced the same Earth-shattering nightmare. The walls around us completely fell down, and we were able to share deep and intimate feelings because we know the other will understand. His intimate honesty makes me feel less alone in this devastating and terrifying world."

#46: “I think connecting with someone means being able to open up to them. I feel the most connected to someone when all of our walls and guards are down and there’s nothing standing between us. Just raw intimate honesty. Not long after meeting one of my really good friends, we found out that we had been through the same tragedy not too long before that day. I found out his mom had passed away less than a year before mine did and that we had both experienced the same Earth-shattering nightmare. The walls around us completely fell down, and we were able to share deep and intimate feelings because we know the other will understand. His intimate honesty makes me feel less alone in this devastating and terrifying world.”

"Normally, when I choose a friend, I try to find someone who has the same values as me, what kind of person they want to be and what kind of lifestyle they live. Sometimes when you meet someone, for some reason you feel very close. It’s like god created it and you’re not sure why. I would like to share my personal opinions with somebody that I feel close with."

#47: “Normally, when I choose a friend, I try to find someone who has the same values as me, what kind of person they want to be and what kind of lifestyle they live. Sometimes when you meet someone, for some reason you feel very close. It’s like god created it and you’re not sure why. I would like to share my personal opinions with somebody that I feel close with.”

#47: "This is a really weird thing but I cherish someones musical taste. I think music says a lot about someone because it is an intimate form of expression. If you really connect with music than that says a lot about yourself. There's a lot of qualities that brought my boyfriend and I together but I think it's important that we connect over our musical outlets."

#48: “This is a really weird thing, but I cherish someones musical taste. I think music says a lot about someone because it is an intimate form of expression. If you really connect with music than that says a lot about yourself. There’s a lot of qualities that brought my boyfriend and I together, but I think it’s important that we connect over our musical outlets.”

#49:

#49: “I think lately being human is very structured. We are told to go to school and find our place but I don’t think that’s what being human is all about. It sounds cheesy but you have to find yourself. My idea of living is being happy and continuing to do what makes me happy. I study psychology and I love it. If I could sit here and read psychology textbooks all day, I would. I came into Stony Brook as pre-med, but after freshman year, everything weeded me out. I was so distraught ya know? What was I going to do with my life? I realized that med school wasn’t exactly going to make me happy anyways. In the end, everything worked out for the best. We get this idea that we may not be good enough, but we ARE good enough and maybe we just belong somewhere else.”

#50:

#50: “To be human is to be a brave man and to have passion. I would like to be passionate about everything that I like to do. I like to watch badminton and to play computer games. Is that a good answer? My favorite computer game is World of Warcraft”

The Human Connection

I believe pursuing the human connection is one of the most important goals in the universe. The connection between all human beings and the universe in which we perceive is something a majority of the world has forgotten about. It’s the most primal and instinctual link that we have with all living things and our environment so how could we have strayed so far from such a profound attraction? Somewhere during the evolution of humanity we became obsessed with novelty and we became enthralled with possession. We placed high value in all material things and claimed them as our own; but that wasn’t enough to fill our insatiable desire for wealth. So we turned against each other and suppressed other human beings for our own gain.

Welcome to the present day, humanity is at the peak of technological advancement. Cutting edge technologies improve every day and we approach the practical birth of quantum computing. Hell, we even created a space probe, Voyager 1, that is traveling through Interstellar Space (the physical space within a galaxy not occupied by stars or their planetary systems). Humans are connected over unbelievably vast distances and can communicate almost instantaneously.

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Yet, it seems we have become so disconnected from each other on a human level. We’ve placed a currency on everything and we exchange these currencies without really experiencing or interacting with each other. We’ve become obsessed with owning things and becoming the best. We’ve become so intrigued by how many likes we have accumulated on our current selfie or how many favorites our clever tweet has received. We destroy our Earth and we decimate a multitude of species on our planet. However, I am also responsible of this because I am a result of the culture in which we live. I have made these same mistakes and I am devoted to changing that fault. We forgot that we evolved on this Earth together. Our feet have touched the same soil and we’ve experienced the same sun; the same warmth.

The truth is, we’ve lost our way. Many people have forgotten that we are capable of taking action. That we are capable of connecting with each other again. We are capable of connecting with the universe in which we were born. We need to stop being so selfish and we need to start caring about others and the places in which we live. We must understand that we are an extraordinary species, given the power to process complex emotion and to think logically. We have the power to change the world in a positive way, to connect the lives of people across the globe and maybe one day connect with others across the universe. Remember that there is a deeper purpose than the materials in which we place our priorities. We have a deeper purpose than we could have ever imagined. The beauty of life is discovering that purpose. If you take anything from this blog it should be to go out and experience the world, experience humanity, experience the universe and provoke positive change. Change the world so that humanity can move forward in a positive way so that we can grow intertwined with the universe.


Open your mind, explore the world and subject yourself to the universe.

Moving Forward

Hey everybody, its been quite a while since I’ve posted here but things are starting to move along so I figured it was time to complete some journals. There are lots of things I’d like to talk about but let’s start with the status of my trip.

As of lately I’ve been pushing my plans forward and making a strong effort to solidify my backpacking trip through South America. My itinerary isn’t complete however my trip will start in the city of La Paz, Bolivia. La Paz is a beautiful populated city surrounded by the mountains of the Altiplano. La Paz sits at an altitude of roughly 12,000ft above sea level. I decided on La Paz because it’s a beautiful city surrounded by culture and incredible geographic features. It’s also one of the cheapest countries to travel among South America for backpackers on a tight budget.

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However, unfortunately Bolivia is one of few South American countries that require U.S. citizens to apply and pay for a tourist visa and I’m going through that process now. The requirements for a Bolivian tourist visa as a U.S. citizen is as follows:

  • Completed tourist visa application (Downloadable Here)
  • Recent passport photo (to be included with application)
  • Valid Passport with an expiration date of not less than 6 months, after the arrival date in Bolivia
  • Proof of Stay (Hotel reservation or letter of invitation)
  • Copy of Round trip ticket or trip itinerary
  • Proof of Economic solvency (Credit Card / Current Bank Statement).
  • Photocopy of International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever (Upwards of $150)
  • $160 money order payable to the “Consulate General of Bolivia”
  • Pre-paid envelope with address for return of documents

All of this information should be sent to the nearest Bolivian embassy

(Visa is valid for 5 years and permits the bearer to enter Bolivia up to 3 times and a stay of no longer than 90 days)

     Planning this trip has been a main priority of mine recently and I’ve changed my plan a bit. Originally I was planning to mainly stay with hosts to lower costs but the spontaneity of backpacking caught my interest. I’ve decided most of my trip will be traveling on my own wherever my adventure takes me and staying at hostels along the way. I will also take breaks with hosts when living on the road becomes tiresome or too expensive. I am only bringing what I can carry comfortably on my back. At a future date I will post all of the stuff I will pack and my itinerary.

Upon arrival in Bolivia there are a few main attractions I would really like to see including:

Salar de Uyuni – the world’s largest salt flat at roughly 4000 square miles

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Lake Titicaca – one of the world’s highest lake at roughly 12,500ft above sea level

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      During this trip I will be documenting all of my adventures. I will have a GoPro, small computer and journals along with me to aid me in my documentation and I will constantly be updating this blog. My goal is to experience and document the various cultures and my extensive experiences in South America. As of now I am set to leave the second week of January 2015. My return date will be roughly two months however that could change depending on how long or how little I am able to stretch my budget. Stay tuned for more information about my trip!


 Open your mind, explore the world and subject yourself to the universe.

Positivity & Working Hard

I haven’t written an entry here in almost a full month and I’m feeling pretty guilty about it. In my defense, I’ve been incredibly busy with work and enjoying the company of others in my small amount of free time. Life has taken a lot of changes in the short amount of time since my last post. I’ve since then started a new job at a restaurant/catering venue. Although I have only been working for a little less than a month, this experience has allowed me to learn so much about myself and others. At first, I was really stressed about having to work long hours and spend most of time at work but after a few shifts that completely changed. In fact I wake up most days and look forward to going to work and seeing all my coworkers. It’s a totally new atmosphere that I couldn’t have expected to be a part of. After a 15+ hour day I don’t feel exhausted, I actually feel accomplished and proud of myself.

Recently, I met a new coworker and we had a ton of work cutout for us for the night. We had started to get agitated with another worker when he was nowhere to be found while we set up for a huge wedding ceremony. Suddenly he turns to me and says, “I get angry with people easily and it’s easy to take your anger out on them. Sometimes when I see myself getting irritated I just have to remember that good things come to good people. I try to be a good person and I work hard everyday. I have to be grateful that I have the opportunity to work hard. Sure, it sucks that we have so much work to do but if you can prove to yourself that you can take on somebody elses responsibilities then you’ve just become a stronger person.” What I found was, he was right. It’s easy to forget that were more capable than we think and that working hard is something to be proud of. He began to explain that he believed strongly in the influence of positivity. He believes that if you respond positively to your environment and to others then you will be positively influenced somewhere down the line. I think that this is an idea that I should begin to use in my life.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that although people may exhibit bad qualities it doesn’t mean that they are inherently bad. It’s impossibly hard to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and understand them. Sometimes you have to stop and admit to yourself that people are different, they have different experiences, different emotions and different ideas about the way their lives should be lived. That’s a hard concept to grasp since our own moral compass seems to be repelled by differences in opinion. Just take a second and tell yourself, This person is unique and they have reason to be the way they are. I can’t have personal conflict with their life choices because I can’t fully grasp their reality.


 Open your mind, explore the world and subject yourself to the universe.

What closed eyes can’t see won’t hurt us.

It’s so easy to hide from the things that are on your mind. It’s so simple to ignore the things that burden us and weigh us down. Often times I will convince myself that I just procrastinate like everybody else, but I don’t think that’s true at all. Have you ever found yourself repelled by the things you need to do? We will do anything to just avoid our responsibilities because we just simply don’t want to take responsibility. The truth is, most days I’ll sit down to write and I will do anything to ignore my current objective. I think this is mostly because I’m afraid to move into the future. If I don’t move forward with things even as simple as writing a blog entry then where do I end up? If I don’t move forward, I will stay in the same perpetual state, deterring my growth. The hardest thing to overcome for me is the person I once was. I was afraid to leave that constant state of comfort, that small everlasting sphere of influence that I latched to for support. So how do you transform into a more fluid dynamic individual when you’re so used to watching the world pass in front of you? I think to attempt this I need to change my perspective for good. Many people take the role of spectators and watch the days unfold into weeks, months and years. Perhaps the answer is to just run with the world, let yourself experience change and allow yourself to evolve with your environment. Experience life and react to it, provoke your own change.

Writing helps me to provoke change internally. What I’ve learned is that there are two important steps to change your perspective. The first is to subject yourself to new experiences. Go and do something you’ve never done, experience awkwardness, embarrassment, bliss; experience something new and unfamiliar. Subject yourself to those experiences and learn more about yourself. The next step is to give yourself time to reflect on yourself and your life internally. Write down your thoughts, communicate with yourself and learn to understand your thoughts and the direction you want to lead. Sometimes I find myself avoiding writing because there are so many thoughts and ideas in my head that I find myself repelled by the overload. I find myself overwhelmed by my own never-ending thoughts and ideas. The only way to solve this is to pick one thought and flow with it, let the other thoughts drift for a while

Often times I have so much to write about that I don’t know where to start. These blog entries are usually just random thoughts and are haphazardly written. Most of these entries are written and then deleted because they lack a purpose besides my own self-analysis. Although my writing is unorganized, it’s purpose is to be honest to myself. When I write, I think honestly and try to reveal things to myself I would otherwise shield from peering eyes. When I began writing journals I was surprised by how much I subconsciously lied to myself. We spend our lives fabricating feelings and stories for others to hear, to shield our flaws and to make ourselves look ideal. We get so comfortable with lying to others that we begin to lie to ourselves and we start to stray from the person we really are. We become the projection of how we want others to perceive us. Find truth in yourself and stick closely to that. Be honest to yourself and to others and move forward towards personal growth.


Open your mind, explore the world and subject yourself to the universe.

 

Preparation

It’s difficult to be so excited for something that is so far away at the moment. Shit, 7 months is basically an eternity ya know?

Let’s take a second and rewind before I begin. <<<

About a month ago, I was talking to a ‘friend’ whom made me realize the reason I’m not particularly excited about my future is because maybe I’m chasing the WRONG future. I took this thought with me and carried it around, letting it become more and more cumbersome until there came a point where my brain just said, “Well, fuck it man. Maybe this thought has some real substance to it.” Of course, this could have been a symptom of psychosis but being crazy is all the rage now anyway. I came to the realization that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I had no real purpose. At first that was a really powerful thing to admit to myself; I have no purpose. This thought is probably the scariest thing I’ve encountered in my lifetime. Although the idea of living without a purpose provoked many emotions. At first I was fearful and sad of what life would be like if I never found a purpose but then I felt ambition; ambition to go find MY purpose in life.   What I did understand was that continuing my life the way it was would only lead me further from self fulfillment. I became more open to the idea that maybe I was chasing a future that I grew up believing I wanted. As a child, teachers, parents and family all tell you to get good grades, go to college, get a job, have a family and eventually die happily. What if those steps don’t result in happiness for everyone? We’re all incredibly different people so why are we all told to do the same thing?

Growing up I always earned high grades and never had a real problem with learning. My parents and family would praise me for my grades but I never really felt good about them. I felt good about my grades because they made my parents happy not because they made me happy. My mom still hounds me to call about Dean’s list certifications but to me it’s just another piece of paper honoring my ability to memorize information instead of actually learning. (Congrats!)

After analyzing these thoughts that I so naively overlooked during my past, I accepted something; I accepted that I have no fucking clue what I want to do for a living. I also have no fucking clue what will keep me happy until the end of my days. I’ve also accepted that maybe being clueless for once in my life isn’t so bad after-all.. Many of the most influential people this world has seen have had a point where they just gave up briefly on following the course of life they chose.  So why can’t I? Sure, maybe I’ll get some backlash from others but at the end of the day I make my own decisions right?

Fast forward to the present now. >>>

Now that this idea to put my life on hold and travel for a bit is deeply ingrained into my brain, I can start preparing myself. By preparing myself I don’t mean just evaluating my finances and stockpiling bug spray. What I really mean is preparing myself mentally. In order to do something so far outside my comfort zone, I’m going to need to become more of an independent free-floating adult. My whole life I have been an uptight, super organized, responsible person and that causes too much burden. It caused me to be afraid of things that were not in order and outside of my comfort zone. Everything I’ve ever attempted I’ve sized up and done internal calculations to see if I was prepared for the task, but this adventure would be much different. This adventure would be something that I couldn’t possibly prepare for in conventional ways. In fact, I never even considered traveling because It is so far away from the person I was (apparently a huge pussy). I’m incredibly afraid of this new adventure so I decided that I need to become a more open-minded person to be properly prepared.

To prepare for this I’ve forced myself to be more accepting of others. I’ve taught myself to be more “whatever” about things. I immediately cut my stress in half just by saying, “Whatever, stop stressing”. Things that need to get done, WILL get done. Things will work out whether you’re stressed about it or not so why not just… not be stressed. It really is that easy to change your mindset. Utilize your own thoughts to change the way you will continue to think, it’s one of those paradoxical mysteries we will never understand. Over the past month I’ve realized that people are incredibly similar even though we all may seem so different on the outside. We all have fears, insecurities and lies hidden deep beneath the surface.  I’ve done my best to acknowledge that there are so many of us lost in the world and that we’re not all that bad. I began to try to put myself into unfamiliar situations, to stop stressing and to just slow the hell down. We all have shit to do and we’re all rushing around like we’re gonna die. Bro, you’re going to be fine, pump the brakes and just breathe homie. With each day, I felt as if I was pulling myself out of the dark and into the sunlight.

So here I am today, still fighting to become the person that I WANT to become. I will continue to strive towards a life filled with purpose and find something that means something to me. I will strive towards something that’s worth more than a paycheck, more than the brief euphoria and the trophies on our shelves. My next adventure will be a solo backpacking trip to South America beginning in January 2015. I hope this trip will help me to experience a life other than the futile materialistic life I am so used to living here. I hope to learn more about other people and experience other people’s lives and cultures. Maybe this experience will help me to learn more about myself and to live a more purposeful life. Until then I will keep on preparing myself in any way that I can and posting my thoughts here.


Open your mind, explore the world and subject yourself to the universe.

 

 

The Beginning

This first post is to kick off the beginning of this blog. I guess for now this is just a test run to see what my thoughts look like roaming the internet. I already write things daily in my journal but this is an attempt to move my thoughts to a more public audience. I’ve found that many people share similar concepts and ideas about life with me and maybe this blog will help others to get a different perspective on life or even to find someone to relate to. Basically, this blog is going to be a mix of all types of thoughts, concepts and lessons I learn each day. Maybe my thoughts won’t seem all that interesting to anybody, but if atleast one person reads these one day and can relate to me then I will feel accomplished. This is just the beginning..


Open your mind, explore the world and subject yourself to the universe.

Simplicity

Everybody has some perception of the type of person they want to be, the type of life they want to live. Lately I’ve felt like I’m happiest when I’m living simply and organically. We tend to complicate everything in our lives because we’re afraid of failing and we’ve been taught to reject imperfection. Maybe if we were taught to embrace all aspects of life we wouldn’t fall so hard when things don’t turn out as expected. We live in a culture with high expectations, extreme desires and intense pressures. We’re all so tense and insecure of ourselves without reason. What is so wrong with failing? What is so wrong with imperfection? Without these things we could never know what it feels like to succeed. I’m trying to teach myself to live simply, to just live and love life. I’m learning to fall in love with the way pain feels, the way jealousy makes your blood boil, the way hurt takes your appetite away. Fall in love with imperfection, embrace all the uncomfortable situations in life. I admire all the imperfect people that keep their heads held high. I admire all the flawed people that still have the strength to wake up and smile. I admire all the scared people that still have the courage to ask for help. These are the beautiful people, the ones that haven’t given up and are not afraid to think differently. I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to be a happy individual and create my own path in this world. However, life’s journey starts in the mind. In order to live and love life we must learn to love ourselves and to accept others for all of the flaws and imperfections we keep locked away. Live simply, fall in love with imperfection, fall in love with yourself. Then, and only then, can we begin to grow and live happily with others.


 Open your mind, explore the world and subject yourself to the universe.