Introductions are in order…

I am Pete Collins…”The New Photoshop Guy,” or, as I am called around the office, “Monkey Boy.” I have done a bunch of stuff in the past… from surviving cancer, teaching tennis, competing in Disc Golf tournaments in the U.S. and overseas as well as living in Bangkok, Thailand for over 6 years. I have a Fine Arts degree and I have been a graphic designer for the last eight years. I am a Canon shooter and I have shot just about every type of photography you can imagine. The sole reason why I got this job is because Scott lost a bet and I was the booby prize. Can I use the word booby in this blog? I guess following after Jay Maisel and Moose Peterson, I can get away with it. :D

Ok, so once I was given the privilege of writing this post, I had to decide what I was going to say. This is big stuff! My plan was to write this hilarious post where you would laugh and think what great a guy I am and my name would become synonymous with cool. My picture would be put into dictionaries next to the word cool, and people around the world would talk to their friends and say, “Did you read that super cool blog post by Pete?” Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t that what we all want?

The truth is… we all long for acceptance and will do almost anything to avoid rejection. I will try to become the person that everyone will like, and I will easily compromise my principles if it means that they will think I am cool. And I bet just about every one of you reading this is the same way. Our lives are lived behind masks that we project to the world and we live in fear that someone will see the real us behind the illusion and reject us. Being rejected is one of our most painful experiences, because it says that we are not worthy and there is something inherently wrong with us. Once we feel rejected we just want the hurt to go away, but unfortunately, the heart remembers that pain so we seek out ways to distract ourselves from the pain and do things to ensure we are not rejected again in the future.

However, the very things that we are doing to cover up our hurt and our pain are causing a greater sense of isolation. We have traded our pain for numbness, but the cost is loneliness. We are so alone and we are not truly alive. The crazy thing is that we think we are the only ones who feel this way. I know because I am one of them… I know I am screwed up, but I am pretty sure that you have your act together… and since you have your act together I must pretend I have mine together too so you won’t think I am worthy of your rejection. So we pose and pretend and act like everything is ok, and yet inside both our hearts are dying. So in order to numb the loneliness, I stay busy, I find things to entertain me, I strive to find that perfect niche in society, or that perfect photograph that will validate my life. I put on a fake bravado, I make people laugh so that they won’t see my fear, or I spend countless hours trying to craft my words in a blog so that it will give people the impression of how important and smart I am. But, all that does is strengthen the masks that hide my real heart from you.

Have you ever watched a child get lost in the joy of a moment? They are not burdened with any sense of shame and they are not concerned with what others will think… they are free and full of life.

I want my life to be like that, and I bet you do too… I am trying to regain that joy… I want to be stirred to tears by the beauty that surrounds me, and not be so critical of others. I want to let go of my masks and let you see the real me, and have you accept me despite my warts and my fears. We have this awesome power to come alongside each other and encourage one another yet we don’t do it because of fear. If we will dare to allow those close to us to start getting glimpses behind our masks, I bet they would start to do the same, and before you know it… we might all be living real lives and with real joy. Imagine how much more wonderful our art, or music, our relationships would be if we were really alive and not caught in the self-imposed Matrix. What if I did things because I loved doing them rather than doing things based upon whether or not it would be accepted by the masses? Am I going to live a life of fear or joy…? That is the $64,000 question.

One final question before I go…

How comfortable are you with love? Are your masks keeping you from really being honest and intimate with those around you? I bet someone near you could really use a loving word from you right now… and the crazy thing is when you push past the fear inside and say it to them, it chips away at the masks in your own life and opens your heart to be free a little bit more. At the end of life, do you want people to say? “He was a great photographer, but his life was a mess” or would you rather them say… “He was full of life and look how that showed in his relationships and his work.” Do me a favor, instead of taking time to comment on this post, which will do you no good… since I can’t read; call up someone you love and just let them know they are special to you. Then go take some pictures, or draw or sing or dance and do it with a sense of wonder as if you were a kid again. Give yourself permission to be real and alive!

You can find Pete on Facebook, and keep an eye out for him on Photoshop User TV, Photoshop User Magazine, and other random places he might pop up :)