Flashback to almost 4 months ago, on a lazy Saturday just like this one. I was lying in bed for hours and an idea hit me. It was just a glimpse of the full project. I'd been reading about how important it is to take time to write about what makes you grateful. Research says that if you take just a few minutes every day to write what you're thankful for, you'll report being happier. I've done this off and on for the past year or so, and it's worked for me. So I wanted to start doing it with pictures. And I wanted so share those pictures with others, to inspire others to focus on what they're thankful for and to try to make a community out of it. Because that's what social media was made for, right? (And because I miss #my_athens.)
This led me to come up with a hashtag. I decided on #photosofhome. The things I'm most grateful for usually make me feel at home. Emphasis on the word "feel" because home here isn't restricted to a physical house. I move around a lot-- most recently to Livermore, California about 3 weeks ago-- so home for me is not often tied to a physical place. And it seems to me that many other people's feelings of home or comfort aren't about their houses, either. They're about people, a pet, a song, food... People may not feel comfortable at their physical house at all. Home can mean so much more, and I want this hashtag to apply to a lot of people. I want it to be something others can use when they share photos or words on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
That was the basic idea. And to hold myself accountable, even just a little, I posted the idea to Instagram a couple days later. The idea has been bouncing around in my head ever since, morphing and evolving, but I have yet to put anything out into the world about it since then (other than using the hashtag on photos on my Instagram). I haven't mustered up the courage or effort to do it, until now. I know this isn't anywhere near what the project will become, but I have to start somewhere. I just have to start.
And the way I'm doing that is by copying an entry from my journal that I wrote a couple weeks ago when I was feeling most inspired:
As I try to write this, June (my dog) is lying on my arm, sniffing my pen. She reminds my that there is so much to love and be thankful for. (A little dramatic, I know, but I really love my dog.) Anyway, I have some ideas to jot down. I get so excited about my ideas sometimes- I wish that didn't go away. I keep coming back to this "Photos of Home" idea. The idea has morphed. I now want to document the next 1.5 years in my new house in Livermore with my dad and June. And there are so many reasons why. The original idea came from the need to focus on what I'm grateful for, what makes me feel that comfortable feeling of home. I think there is value in sharing what you're grateful for and seeing the variety in what makes other people grateful.
This idea expanded tonight when I read an article on the Red & Black's website about social media threatening our mental health. It's not a new idea, but it speaks to me now more than ever. Social media is threatening our abilities to connect in person. I'm more (physically) alone in my life now than I've ever been before. I live in a new state, just switched jobs, and now I'm moving to a new city. It's really hard to make friends when you don't have school or a club forcing you to do so. Social media is an amazing tool for connecting with people in some aspects (sharing things like photo projects and this post or finding events to go to) but it can also really hurt. It fosters comparison. Seeing what everyone else's lives are like can put pressure on your own. I see other people who have recently moved states and already have tons of friends (or that's what they make it look like), and I wonder why I don't yet. And I know the answers: I pick the comfort of scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feeds while watching Netflix in bed instead of going out and making myself uncomfortable.
I want to do this Photos of Home project to use social media for its strengths. To say (while it's cliché) that it's okay to struggle. Whatever that may mean to you. And that you may have a chance at being happier if you give thanks for the small things-- like finding a sense of home while petting your dog and drinking tea or whatever it may be for you.
This project also just got a lot more personal for me due to my recent plans to move again. I realized I've moved an incredible amount of times in my life. Luckily, most of them didn't include changing schools and friends, but they did create some lapses is memory. I lived in a house for only a month once. I remember the vague layout of the room but not the details. I want to document this new house, what it looks like and the moments that happen inside. I also will be living with my dad, probably for the last time in my life. These are moments I really want to record, to be present in.
So here marks the beginning of Photos of Home. I'd love it if anyone out there joins me along the way by following my posts or making posts of their own featuring things they're grateful for-- big or small-- using the hashtag #photosofhome. I think it's interesting to see what others cherish.
Enjoy some of the first photos I've taken of my dad (and June) to start off this project. And see more on Instagram by clicking here or searching #photosofhome.