The focus of my video project is on standards and expectations, and the effect that it has on the self. Wanting to do a self portrait piece, I found one aspect of my life that I felt was relevant enough to be taken in a serious tone successfully. For myself, I struggle with what I am expected of as a student, as a person of color, and as a provider, both from others as well as myself. Carl Jung once said, “[The Self]… might equally be called the ‘God within us’”. This is based on the notion that one of the greatest judges a person can have is themselves, with the self knowing all that the self does, and the reasons behind it. What one expects or from perceives him/herself plays a vital role in the self-identification process.
I deal with the expectation that I have to do well in school due to my success in high school, my sister being on the Dean’s list, and the rest of my family seemingly shoving the “black excellence” idea down my throat. It is an indirect pressure, I feel, due to my own guilt being a primary cause of my failures. I feel a sensation of baffle on both sides as it becomes apparent that I am not the same as I was three years ago. Comparing myself to others is common for me. I am a thinker, and often try to put myself in other people’s shoes. I think to myself, “How do I see my abilities?” “How do others see my abilities?” “Do others try to imagine how I see myself?” Not following the assumed path of normalcy that I see others follow can sometimes be misconstrued as failure in my mind, and often causes my mind to incur to the thought of if I am going through my distinct life correctly or incorrectly. Failing to hit many important benchmarks in my life, such as sports achievements, education opportunities, and social interactions lead me to the question, “Am I setting the bar too low? Or is it, that I am just afraid of success?”
Being a biracial young man of Afro-American and Caucasian descent, growing up in a neighborhood predominantly filled with black and Hispanic people made me the black sheep among my community. Identifying with my black family while appearing to be white perplexed my mind into mental gymnastics in order to find a common ground with my peers. I was expected to perform better in life due to my skin color, despite me being worse off than most in many instances. Because of this, I was torn between trying to prove that I can achieve black excellence in spite of the color of my skin.
I was raised to be modest, and with my household dynamic, was forced to be the voice of reason among my mother and sister to prevent entropy and chaos. From the age of 12, I had to quell the arguments between my hormone-enraged sister and my behind-on-the-times mother, being shaken at the realization that I was a security guard in my own home, reluctant from fear to leave his two inmates alone. On top of this, my mother is retired, which led to me essentially becoming independent at the age of 18, aside from being given a roof over my head and 3 square meals a week. Not being able to relax with the safe haven of a nuclear family gives me a ongoing state of restriction to this day, and makes me feel like I only cater to myself for survival, not pleasure.
Despite all I go through, I realized that it is better to lower my expectations in order to achieve happiness. A study from the University College of London states that the key to attaining happiness is the drastic increase from pessimistic/realist outlook to positivity promotes a significant amount of mood change in the mind. With some people, being a people pleaser is the catalyst to this change, myself included. What I wish to convey with this piece is an inspirational and emotional tone to the audience, having them think about their own psyche after seeing a glimpse of the primary focus of why I am making this: to gain a greater understanding of myself, and why I am how I am.