A life in silence
I’ve lived in silence for most of my life, afraid of speaking up. A deep fear of being judged and misrepresented and becoming an outsider. But I’ve come to understand that I am and have always been an outsider. To say that I have stopped trying to fit in would be a lie, but I’ve have reasoned with myself, and today I see and feel the strengths of being different – art helped me get there. Here is my story.
As a kid, I was timid and very shy. Operating in social environments was hard for me. But I was always watching, listening, and analyzing people and my surroundings. I was an overweight kid and bullied for it in school, which made life really hard.
My first encounter with art, or anything close to it, was in the art class. We had an old computer standing in the corner of the workshop, and on it, a piece of computer software called Photoshop. This was early in Photoshop’s history, I played around with it a lot, mostly for fun. There was something that grabbed me, the combination of technology and visual art, the ability to work in layers, and the ability to digitally manipulate and form images – it attracted me. Many years later, I had practiced it so much that I was the one showing my art teachers in school how to use it, and helping my classmates out. My teachers praised me and told me I had to work with design the future, but at the time, I didn’t reflect over their compliments, maybe because I wasn’t used to being praised.
My father was a huge role model to me; he came from an unfortunate condition born and raised in communism occupied Hungary. He moved here as a young man and built his business and sports career from nothing, he worked a lot. As a young adult, I received the bad news that he had been diagnosed with pancreas cancer. Unfortunately, he died very soon after he was diagnosed. A day I, of course, will never forget. The time after he died was a constant dull emptiness and a pain that never went away.
Time passed, and a year later my mother met a new man, I was really happy for her, she got her spirit back after dad passed away. Her new boyfriend was head of a big paper mill in the neighbor town; he was an odd and funny looking man, but I didn’t judge the book by its cover.
Somewhere around the age of 21, I bought my first camera together with a wide-angle lens. I loved that lens, It’s funny how that wide-angle style stuck with me and became integrated with my “photographic DNA.” Life was pretty good, even if I mourned my father. My girlfriend and I decided to move in together, I was happy to be able to be with her.
But one day when I came home from work, someone knocked at the door. I opened up the door, and two older men stood outside my apartment; they identified themselves as police officers. They asked me if they could come in. I said yes, and a thousand thoughts went through my head; What did they want? One of the policemen asked me to sit down. Suddenly it was as if I was sucked into a black hole. I didn’t register much of the officer words, but one thing did, and when I heard it, I felt as someone ripped my soul apart: “Your mother has been murdered. Her boyfriend killed her.” It turned out that her boyfriend was evil; he had been lying about everything, and when confronted with his lies, he brutally chooses to end my mother’s life with an ax and knife.
Life became a black hole filled with pain and darkness. The time after my mother was murdered was unrealistic with trials, unwanted media attention, and disorder. On the outside, it looked like life moved forward, but on the inside, I was shattered. It took me many years to get my life spark back. I was fortunate that I had great support from my girlfriend, my sister, friends, and also that I had art in my life, which kept me occupied and made me move slowly forward.
The things I had experienced, at a very young age, made me think existentially and if there was a meaning to this, and where my place was in this world. I decided to make a change, so I decided to move to a new town for a start. I wanted to work with something I had a passion for, like art and photography, so I started my own business and commercial photography studio, and I felt that my strength was slowly coming back. But going from being employed to a full-time photography business, with the history I had, was very hard, especially in the beginning. I fought my way up in a competitive world. I worked late nights and weekends to make life go around; on top of that, I became a father of two. Unfortunately, there was to much pressure for me to handle, and I and fell right into a depression.
Being depressed was a different kind of challenge which I had never experienced before because it took my ability to fight away from me. I had pushed myself through bullying, overweigh, physical pain, sorrow – I was a fighter. But this was something I couldn’t fight, I had to start taking care of my soul. It made me dive deeper into my existential thoughts, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do something much more meaningful with my life. I wanted to work with art, not just photography in general, but I wanted to tell stories about the things I had experienced and seen in life.
Once I decided to do this, to work with art, it was like a revelation to that shy little kid who did not dare to speak. Art became like a valve, where I could convey the stories I wanted to, to release the pressures I had inside. Art helped me to carry stories about society, people, how we treat each other, about technology and how it affects us, about staying strong in life when it throws pain, darkness, and malevolence at us.
My hope now is that it will help people to open up a discussion about society. I hope it can make people speak up and not be silent as I have been for most of my life. I hope that it can encourage people to take steps that they haven’t dared before, even if they are hard. I hope that these stories can make people think about their bad behaviors and do one of the hardest things there is in life, change and become a better person – whatever they consider being a better person is.
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