Today I made the last – 365 out of 365 – post of my year-long photography/photoshop project.
It was a wild ride. I almost cannot believe I did it.
But I did.
If you want to take a peek, it is all there (both accounts are the same, but tumblr quality is a bit better):
Here is everything I learned and experienced,
from starting this endeavor
and seeing it through to the very end:
- – I Gave Myself Permission To Suck
- – I Was Being Consistent. I Learned To Create Momentum
- – I Allowed Myself To Be Seen
- – I Met “Others” And We Were On A Path Together
- – Burnouts Are Not As Bad As They Seem…
- – I Could Do Something Every Day For A Year
- – It Gave Me A Purpose. It Kept Me Going
- – I Created From Scratch The Thing I Will Be Proud Of All Life
- – I Could Keep Promise That I Gave To Myself
- – It Taught Me To Prepare For Possible Challenges And Think Ahead
- – I Captured That Weirdest Part Of My Life Forever
- – It Forced Me To Learn Some Skills
- – I Got An Insight Into My Mind
- – It Allowed Me To Love Writing
- – I Made The World Slightly Better
- – I Created Some Gems
- – It Was Fun
- – I Did A Project Of My Life
- – It Gave Me This Awesome Article And Moment Of Reflection
- – I Am An Addict Now… Help…
- – There Will Be More
– I Gave Myself Permission To Suck
Obviously, the biggest Andy’s concept, that helped me start and go on. It helped me to start and do a shitty job (and it was a really shitty job).
Interestingly enough, the hardest part was not the start itself – it was “expected” I would suck there.
The hardest moment was after a week of continuous improvements in quality – each of my 6 first photos were, for me, much better than the previous – I ran forward and made progress.
I put in huge effort, I spent maybe 10 hours on that 6th one.
There were so many details. I learned so much by doing it.
It is in my top 5 photos of all project – I am proud of it to this day.
And then came that 7th day, when I had no ideas, energy and time to repeat my success.
I had to go back in quality. I had to post a worse picture.
I had to fall back from my mountain to the bottom – to suck again.
I couldn’t press the “post” button for an hour – I literally sat with my finger above it with no strength to force myself.
Eventually, there was a “fuck it” moment – I put my finger down and it was done – I posted it.
Terrified to face my atrocity, I turned off my phone and physically ran away to other room in shame.
But… nothing bad has happened.
There were no mob with pitchforks.
My friends (2 people who watched it from the start) and family haven’t wished for me to disappear.
Maybe they weren’t impressed, but they were ok with it.
To my big surprise, I survived.
There have been similar moments later, but they were not that strong anymore.
It was much easier in other parts of my life too from that point.
I showed the world that I can do a shitty job.
The world responded – “it is ok”.
– I Was Being Consistent. I Learned To Create Momentum
When you have to do something each day, no matter how small it is – it becomes much easier to keep it going, or at least to start doing it that new day.
I knew the theory for a long time, but this was the first time when I actually practiced and internalized it.
It was so noticeable after a couple of weeks, when the initial motivation starts to decline – because I did something yesterday, I could at least try repeating it today.
Later, there were some days where all I could post was some photo I made in just 10 minutes (or one time completely unedited).
Or just post one of my buffers and not “make” a photo that day (I’ll talk later about that).
After doing such a small action, having that mediocre result, next day I knew that I could do something similarly tiny if I wanted to, or even smaller.
I already sucked, it was easy to suck one more time.
To my surprise every time it happened – when I sat down with the intention of “doing a bad job” – I made it much better than I expected.
I tried more than in previous day, because why not?
I was already doing something, I could at least try to put in 10 minutes more.
I wanted to do a good job after all.
That made a huge difference.
It stopped me from being complacent – I ignored the “feeling of being shit”, started with the smallest action and followed depending on my actual state.
I conquered analysis paralysis, at least in some way.
I learned to start doing the action and THEN ask myself if I wanted to continue.
– I Allowed Myself To Be Seen
That was another huge challenge for me.
At the start, in the first 2 months, I had only closest people – about 5 of them – following and watching what I was doing.
I was scared to tell them as well – I had to be accountable afterwards.
I didn’t trust myself to see it through back then.
I was terrified of failing at some point – “I would be a huge disappointment!”
However, an even greater moment came 2 months later, when I decided to put hashtags in my posts –
“I would be shown among them and random people could find me”.
Adding gasoline to the fire of anxiety was another fact –
the day I set myself up to put hashtags, I once again did a shitty job of a photo.
I had to show myself to the world. And I had to start with one of my worst “works”.
That caused the biggest breakdown since that first struggle with “doing a shitty job”.
As last time, I prepared the post but was not able to press the “publish”.
I spent hours brainwashing myself and trying different techniques.
I procrastinated, distracted myself and then was returning to pushing myself again.
To. Press. That. Damn. Button.
After a couple of these cycles, I finally did that atrocious thing of posting, and once again, ran away in panic, screaming and crying.
To my yet another surprise, the world continued to exist.
I even got some likes, and even comments (which, I learned later, were ad spammers – love you guys – you were always with me)
I told the world “I’m scared, but I want to be seen”
The world responded “It’s ok. You’re allowed to. I see you.”
– I Met “Others” And We Were On A Path Together
What helped me greatly was having people around who were doing the similar thing as me – or acknowledging what I was doing.
One guy was making photoshop edits each day as well, and good ones!
Another was that cool artist who has even been shown in art galleries.
They found me through the hashtags in the first weeks I started writing them and stuck around till the end.
They were noticing me – supporting me. Even left comments from time to time.
I appreciate those two so much.
There were a couple of others who stayed to look at my art from time to time – glad I had them as well.
And these “Promote Art” spammers of Instagram hashtags…
I hated them at the start because I wanted recognition and felt betrayed when the only comment I got was from them…
But towards the end it became quite fun to have them under every post.
Even if no one real was noticing me from time to time, they always reminded me that there was someone nearby.
I was not alone. And if bots can find me, others can too.
I am grateful for having them with me as well.
All in all, it felt like some small community for me.
Even though I haven’t got in direct contact with any people there – as I won’t continue doing photos/art afterwards – I felt that they were close and always around.
I felt myself as a part of the “tribe”
I saw that I have permission to be among them
– Burnouts Are Not As Bad As They Seem…
Even if that is the smallest thing possible – even if it is just the unedited photo I took a week ago, standing on the edge of a cliff…
Periodically I had these periods when I Just Couldn’t Create Anything.
Maybe I was in some unstable psychological state, or tired, or just had an empty mind.
I just tried to do something and I did a shitty job.
I was feeling miserable at that point – I had not yet learned to be in my current peaceful and accepting state.
I had to be perfect back then.
However, now, looking at all these “bad” photos I made – I see beauty in them. I was in a unique state of mind, and I saw the world differently.
There are emotions. There are effort – and not even some, but the best effort I could put in at that moment.
I understood this thing over the course of the project:
There is some gold in everything you do
– I Could Do Something Every Day For A Year
I can easily see how this realization will help me for the rest of my life.
What was and still is the biggest worry of mine?
Missing something, not being able to get the thing I really want (I’m working on that too, but that is a different topic)
Even if I’m not approaching it from a “fear” standpoint, it still usually doesn’t happen by a snap of the fingers.
It requires some effort.
And the easiest way to get that effort going, solution for achieving everything in life – do something small, repeatedly, and don’t quit.
This project is a straightforward manifestation of that idea.
I now have one of the best tools in life.
If I would really want something in the future, I can start another 365 project for doing the required actions consistently every day.
I know that I will see it through – if I was able to do it once, I could do it again.
And I will get what I want, or at least get a great head start on the way there.
– It Gave Me A Purpose. It Kept Me Going
Suffice to say, I could have had some painful moments there, maybe even some days where I almost stopped caring about anything…
Almost. Because even if everything with me went wrong, I was not able to completely stop – I had my mission.
I had something bigger than me.
Every day, no matter what was happening in my life, I had to make at least one good moment – post my photo.
It required some creativity and more importantly, mental energy and focus to keep it running.
I had none of it on some days, so it seems it could have been helpful to do nothing, right?
That would have been the worst decision…
While feeling tired, frustrated and depressed it is easy to fall into the loop of laziness, hopelessness, beating myself up, and self-medication.
Where would that took me to next – straight to apathy, where it is really hard to bounce off.
The most important cure for depressive feelings is action.
No matter how small it is, when we do something, we feel slightly better.
If, however, we manage to finish what we wanted (again, it could be something tiny like washing dishes), we also add a huge boost to self-image – as we can be proud that we saw it through.
Action won’t let us go into apathy. It is a fail-safe of our psyche.
This project forced me to take some action every day.
Even more valuable was that the action of posting is seen as “the big one” – continuing “project of my life”.
You can imagine how good it felt each time I managed to have a photo out there – which was every day without pauses.
Each and every day I was forced to give myself praise.
This project was the best support I could have had with me in these trying times.
– I Created From Scratch The Thing I Will Be Proud Of All Life
365 project gave me some unique satisfaction and ego boost.
I started from somewhere I was completely useless in and made it into this huge success.
I could not trust myself completely – what if I decide that it won’t matter anymore at some point?
What if I fall back into complacency?
What if it turns out to be too hard?
I formed my intentions of not quitting it after the first month – I knew I would try to continue it no matter what.
But still, all the time until the very end, I was not sure if I would be able to finish it.
I made it happen.
I kept my main goal in check.
I didn’t give up.
I kept my promise.
It is an underdog story in some way. From nothing to everything. From rags to riches.
We love these kinds of stories.
With my efforts and having a mission in mind, I created this huge awesome chunk in my life.
The part of life I can be totally proud of, regarding both photos and myself.
– I Could Keep Promise That I Gave To Myself
To expand on the previous one – the huge part of what kept me returning every day, was that I promised to myself I would do it no matter what.
Even when I didn’t want to, I kept working on my photos as much as I could, for that “me” – I wanted him to feel good. I wanted to improve his life. I wanted to do right by him.
I kept it running no matter what, for him.
I know now that if I promise something to myself – it will be done.
I strengthened my self-trust immensely.
It will help a lot with my self-improvement journey – where delayed gratification is a huge part.
– It Taught Me To Prepare For Possible Challenges And Think Ahead
Even when I knew that my intention was true and I would not quit in any situation, there were still external things that could happen and break it all apart.
There are always some events and challenges on the way.
I travelled. I moved from place to place. I was sick. I had really busy days.
I had to learn to prepare for them.
I had to come up with a contingency plan.
One part of it was buffers – I made some photos in advance. Over the course of the project it fluctuated between 0 (posting on the day of making) and 10 in advance (I was doing 2-5 photos at some days when I wanted to)
That was still in line with my project – I had to post a photo, name it and say something in the description. Many times, even if I used some buffers and didn’t “make” the actual photo that day, I still poured my soul into writing a description. I even wrote some rhymes here and there…
Some days (3-5 I think) I could not do even that, so I stuck to the minimum – posted a buffer, and wrote one phrase under it. And that was ok. I still did something. I kept going.
Second solution was, once again, giving myself permission to suck.
When I had no buffers, and had no energy – I had to allow myself to suck hard. Buffers, as easy to post them, still were edited and took effort before.
But when I had nothing… One day I posted just an unedited photo with some random words.
That day I did not feel great – I thought I cheated and should have done better.
But I still felt relief that I posted it.
I didn’t give up – I just had to kill my ego and go for the humiliation.
The Earth kept turning. And I felt much better the next day, big thanks to the fact that I made it through that hardest previous one.
It taught me a huge lesson.
If some days I will only be able to do the bare minimum – it is still a huge step.
It is still enough.
It will give some results.
Later I will even feel proud that I did it.
– I Captured That Weirdest Part Of My Life Forever
This project was a snapshot of my every day in that year. And as I was saying before – oh boy, was this year strange and unexpected!
All my emotions are there.
All my falls and successes.
My world and self-view were changing each day, and it is all there.
It became my diary.
There were moments when I could not do anything in the real world, but kept posting.
You know what I see when I look back at these photos? I see myself, in that room, almost unable to function, and still making a mentally impossible effort to upload that photo.
I can feel everything he felt, like life falling apart, like there is no hope.
Now I know that he was and is going to be alright. I am proud of him.
And thanks to these photos, that period will not be forgotten, it won’t be wasted – that struggle and me overcoming it will be forever with me, and anyone else who will look at my photos.
There were people I met in the course of the year, who affected me very strongly.
I look at photos I made with them in mind, and I see the ways they changed my life. I can feel how grateful I am for each and every one of them.
Memory is fallible, but when you capture these moments in art – they become immortalized.
There were moments where I was feeling the most peaceful and fulfilled than I’ve been in my entire life. My huge epiphanies of recent times.
As I said, it was an insane and unexpected year…
There were many more of these moments.
All of them are forever with me now.
– It Forced Me To Learn Some Skills
Yeah, spending 1.5 hours on average each day for a year will give some experience for sure.
For the first 100 photos, I put so much effort into learning photography and photoshop. I made huge improvements there. Until I had to move.
Then it was not my goal to improve it anymore – I had more pressing concerns.
But I still learned something here and there, over the remainder of the project.
If anything, I could make some above average edit in 40 minutes at the end.
It also helped me a lot to just know what I can and cannot do there – I used that knowledge many times while working with light in my dating profile photos.
And I was still taking my own photos…
So, overall, I got magnitudes of times better with photoshop, and especially with photography and posing.
365 project will improve the skills tremendously just through sheer act of doing.
If you also learn something additionally all the way – you will be elite at the end.
– I Got An Insight Into My Mind
Mostly into my creative side, but also into overall mental health as well.
By doing them I warmed up my consciousness and was force to think deeper.
By looking back at photos I made some days ago, I was seeing something different and it was like a moment of reflection on how I see the world.
Sometimes I felt how I can see some new emotions – learned new things about me.
Sometimes I got very self-conscious and ashamed on what previously was considered good – that showed me the part of my psyche I want to work upon.
By “manifesting” some part of myself every day I learned myself better
– It Allowed Me To Love Writing
That is true.
The photography project improved my writing.
I had the minimum goal of writing something in description.
I thought it would be just a reflection of the photo…
Well, then I got crazy with it.
At the start I wrote huge pages of my self-improvement insights.
Then I wrote a lot about my emotions.
I wrote some poems there.
I wrote my life events. My worries. My wins and losses.
I wrote something there every day.
This 365 project is the reason it was easy for me to start a blog.
I had a year head start on writing.
I just didn’t realize it before this article…
– I Made The World Slightly Better
Art is good.
I created 365 pieces of art.
Therefore I created some good.
Yeah, not every one of them deserves to be showcased in galleries and awed upon…
Some of them may not cause any emotions in people.
But each one of them still contains a bit of my soul – intention to do good, emotions and motivation I give to a person who stumbles upon it.
I enriched this world a little bit more.
– I Created Some Gems
Even if most of what I created was probably above average, about 30-40 of them were literal gems.
I love some of these photos so much.
Some of them are the pinnacle of my skill.
Some are really detailed.
Some captured my emotions perfectly.
And some just turned out to be very fun at the end.
While aiming to just do a photo every day, I sometimes created something I never believed I was able to.
I created my gems
– It Was Fun
This aspect was almost always overlooked by me, as it often felt stressful to create without any idea where to start.
But thinking back, even these stressful moments were fun.
The act of trying to come up with something, and eventually doing it – gave me some delight.
The creativity I felt even while doing completely unrecognizable low-quality works (that I even felt ashamed of for a while) – was not boring at all.
And just to remember some crazy ideas I did – I still burst out in laughing every time I see them.
This project was so much fun to work on.
And my life this year always had some of that fun each day.
– I Did A Project Of My Life
The feeling of succeeding in such a big thing is not like anything in the world.
I thought at the start that it would give me fulfillment to finish it. That I will have at least one thing I can be really proud of. That I will be enough after it.
Well… Lately, other events have shined light on this belief. The fulfillment really comes from other things.
This project would not have made me “enough” if I didn’t allowed myself to be enough.
I didn’t have to prove anything by doing it.
That said, putting something that big in the history of “me” does mean a lot. It is like some World Wonder – I don’t need it, but it feels damn good to have it.
These huge “Project Of Life” things are strengthening the foundation of my inner self.
Yes, I can create a strong foundation even without doing crazy things.
But why not use this as another reminder that I am awesome.
And it makes for an awesome conversation starter… Win!
My life has got one more “notch” I can rely upon in hard times:
Even if everything would crash and I’d have a huge identity crisis,
this project will be an indisputable fact that my life was not useless and uneventful
– It Gave Me This Awesome Article And Moment Of Reflection
You know, when I started writing review about this project, I didn’t know that I would notice so many things I learned from it…
I am speechless right now.
4 thousand words – my biggest article for now – done in 3 days without any stumble.
10s of huge improvements to my life, pouring out of my mind. I am sure I could find twice as many of them, if I wanted to continue.
But it is ok. The ones I found are enough.
I am eternally grateful for every one of these points
And I love this article.
– I Am An Addict Now… Help…
Now to the biggest and irreversible downside – I am fucking addicted to doing something every day now.
Don’t start one of these projects if you don’t want to have every day for the rest of your life filled with some purpose, ability to do self-reflection, having things that you want and are proud to do and becoming a better version of yourself…
If you see it through, you will be hooked and will only be able to have success every day until you die!
Tread it carefully!
You won’t be able to turn back!
I Warned You…
– There Will Be More
Ok, well, there is still some truth to the above.
I definitely see now how useful it can be to do something every day.
I’ll take some time off and then will start another 365 project again.
It will be the easier one next time, something that doesn’t require about an hour of effort each day to be good.
I liked the “diary” aspect of it very much, so probably it would also be something like a reflection or writing, open to everyone. I want to do something like that anyway.
On this note, I thank everyone who read at least some parts of this (if you read it all – legend!).
It was an amazing journey and an awesome finish.
I am grateful for each and every day I was a part of it.
See you in the next one…