The side of me that you see, will depend on how you know me. As an extroverted introvert, context greatly influences how I act. Sometimes I’m quiet, other times I’m talkative. Often I’ll act mature, but sometimes I can be a major goofball. I’m polite but also sassy. While I could continue listing the contradictory aspects of my personality, I feel like my point’s been made (plus if you’re reading this there’s a good chance you already know what I’m like) so I’m going to continue on to the rest of my post.
As soon as I saw the prompt for this project, I was excited. It was like it was designed for me. Part of why I have always been aware of my different personality traits, and the way my environment impacts my behavior, is because from a young age I have always kept a busy schedule full of extracurriculars and other activities. Growing up over the years I was involved in school (obviously), Girl Scouts, different sports, my high school paper, my social life with friends, and more. While I was often busy and always needing to plan accordingly, I loved all my activities and wouldn’t have dropped any of them. As I kept this busy schedule, something I and the people around me noticed was how different I acted at these activities. This trend followed me into college.
Currently in my junior year, I am a double major studying Communication & Digital Studies and English. I am one of the news editors for the Blue & Gray Press, I work as a tutor at the Digital Knowledge Center, am the secretary for the Culinary Club, am a member of the club softball team, and have recently started participating in Japanese Conversation Hours (after studying the language for 12 years, it’s nice to have a place to use it more). Along with all these activities, and homework, I love hanging out with my friends whenever I have the chance to. Due to all of my activities, when this assignment came along I knew that I would have plenty of options about the angle to take for this project.
When brainstorming options for this project, I decided I wanted to do it in my residence hall. I chose this because no matter what I’m doing or where I’m running off to, everything starts at and comes back to the dorm. As my ‘home’ away from home, it seemed the perfect place to showcase my different personas. Within my photo you can see me reading the Blue & Gray Press (the paper is really important to me and a big part of my college experience), huddled in a blanket getting a drink from the vending machine (everyone can use a pick-me-up on occasions during a stressful study night), texting on my way in from classes, heading out to softball practice, talking on the phone (the Arrington lobby is my go to place if I need to make a phone call late at night), and playing air hockey in the background (anyone who knows me can attest for my competitive nature). While I love all my activities and am always true to who I am, people often see me running from activity-to-activity and also notice that I’ll act different based on what I’m doing. How I act at softball is different than how I act at the paper, how I act with my closest friends is different than how I am with complete strangers in class, and my list could continue.
As I worked on laying out and planning my image, I wanted to make the best use of space that I could while still maintaining a truth within my image. I didn’t want to fake a persona, or even stretch one, just to take up space. To me that would have made the image less genuine and meaningful. As a result, the focus automatically goes to the image of me reading the paper on the couch — all the other images are in the background. This ended up adding another layer to the project that was unintentionally symbolic, and perhaps was something I unconsciously planned out.
Letting one version of myself be the focal point while everything else is in the background is a perfect representation of my everyday life and thought process. Even when I’m placing most of my attention onto an activity, there’s always a part of my brain that is considering everything else. Sometimes it’s for a split second before my focus returns to the task at hand and other times it may be more thought out and prolonged, but those multiple thoughts and considerations are always there. Whether it’s me mentally thinking about my schedule, anticipating a fun activity, worrying about homework, or anything, my brain is always thinking and considering the big picture. A trait that I consider both a blessing and a curse at times, it’s a part of who I am and it also helps me keep track of everything I have to do. After I recognized this hidden value in my final product, I couldn’t shake the new sense of importance and meaning behind my picture.
All in all I really enjoyed this project. Not only do I feel like it allowed me to learn more about photoshop and lightroom, but it was also a way to show who I am and what my college life is like. I’d be lying if I said that things were always rainbows and butterflies with my schedule. It can be hard to balance and also can lead to a lot of stress at times. But with that being said, I love all of my activities and have grown as an individual because of them. Every activity that I have participated in, both now and growing up, have played a role in shaping me to be who I am. My final product supports the idea that nothing in life is ever going to be completely easy or perfect but when you’re pursuing your passions and doing what you love, the good always outweighs the bad and you’ll often find yourself constantly growing and learning as a result.