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Growing up, I was more of a follower. Standing in line with what I felt others wanted me to do. I valued myself based on the opinion of family, peers and complete strangers.
Needless to say, my self-confidence was fragile. It became a roller coaster ride in life. Some days I felt great, while the rest of the time I had little belief that I could accomplish anything of substance on my own.
I needed to lean on the strength of others because I didn't have enough strength on my own. Why? I'm not entirely sure. Yet, often times, I was reminded of being a skinny, quiet little boy. Reserved. Shy. Reclusive. Incapable of defending myself against bigger guys, so I needed to stay in my lane without ruffling any feathers.
I sat in the back of class from elementary to high school afraid to speak up or speak out. Never wanting to be the center of attention. Sure that I wouldn't measure up to anything close to being a leader. So, sure. How long can you live a life like this? Ultimately, it's not living. It's simply breathing.
After graduating high school in 1996, I had no sense of direction. No ambitions. No plans. No motivations besides leaving school far behind. I hated school. I never fit in. No matter how hard I tried, I didn't belong. Yet, where did this leave me? Nowhere.
Bounced from one job to the next. General labor. I can't remember all of the jobs I've had over the years. 20 or so? I was immature. Lazy. Inconsistent. And bored. Bored out of my mind! Ultimately, wondering was there more to life than doing the mundane tasks of warehouse work.
The question sparked a fire within me that had long seemed extinguished. That's when my mentality began to change and hope was born. It was time to take the pen out of the hands of others and write my own story. It was time to explore, discover, allow curiosity to lead me.
My journey began new year's day 2001. I began writing thoughts and feelings as poetry. Not having shared most of these things, it was a surprise to me to find out what simmered on the inside of my heart. At last, I knew what I was supposed to do.
'The Beginning of Me'
After a disappointing experience through a traditional publisher to share my poetry in 2010, I decided to self-publish my first collection in 2013. It was a long battle to regain the publishing rights to my work, but it was worth the struggle. From that point forward, it was important for me to have control over how my work was presented.
Pleasantly surprised by the book's cover feature on PW Select, I had the confidence to continue writing. Still, the recognition did not drastically change my life. The consequences of my actions (or in-actions) from years past still haunted me. I still had trouble finding quality, stable work while accepting whatever position I could get.
Along the way, I found another love, photography. In 2008, I began taking classes in digital photography at the Art Institute. Quickly, I realized that commercial photography was not my greatest skill. Having visited several Art Galleries during my teenage years, my style was influenced by fine art paintings, sculptures, and illustrations.
While the Art Institute was not the best fit for me, I found out that I was a good student and really enjoyed learning new things. My college professor assisted me in formatting my first feature-length screenplay based on my favorite Marvel characters. I knew the direction I wanted to go, but accomplishing my goals has always been a challenge. The question became, would I ever give up?
Series | Vilano Beach
After 10 years of more downs than ups, my passion for creating contemporary art has been sustained. While I had moments of giving up, the fire to create never went out completely. Until now, I feel stronger than ever and ready to continue progressing on this journey.
As I meet people and share my work with new audiences I stumble across, I want to give a summary of my adventure up to this point. A video slideshow was created featuring music by the accomplished opera singer, Charlotte Hoather. A special "thank you" to her for allowing me to use one of my favorite songs of hers. Remember...
Do not be afraid of the moment you were born for.
Eric Christopher Jackson