Exposing myself, in general, is something I have recently started doing. Or rather, started doing again.

As a kid I would be the one always to be first-in-line for an adventure or any other kind of activity really. No matter who or what was asked, I wanted to be part of the event, always with a smile on my face. One could say I was a pretty social kid I guess…

Things would change as I grew up though, mainly as I’d go through adolescence.

Unknowingly, I started creating an invisible barrier between me and the rest of the world, both physically and emotionally. This did not mean I didn’t have friends or didn’t like to hang out with my classmates, but rather I started to become more reserved and introverted, not letting people know the “real me” or approach to me intimately.

Any kind of physical touching would make me really uncomfortable and generate within me a sort of disgust, be it a hug or a mere touching of the hand. I also felt pretty uncomfortable when exposing skin or being bare-chested, which is why I’d usually wear long-sleeved shirts no matter how hot the day was or be reticent to remove my shirt when invited to pool parties (sometimes I’d do so, but after a lot of “mental preparation”).

Emotionally speaking, I shut myself to the outside world. It was hard for me to tell if I was happy, sad, joyful or enjoying being in the company of others. I was not attracted to neither women nor men and started to consider myself asexual. This didn’t put a toll on me though, in fact I was very comfortable being like this and I think it allowed me to put more energy in other areas of my life such as my studies.

Retrospectively, I believe all of these attitudes were part of a “defense mechanism” my body put forward to protect me from what I believed were ways in which the outside world could harm me. I was afraid of being mocked because of what I liked or disliked, what activities I would do or wouldn’t do, what my hobbies were, who I might be attracted to…but at the same time and after some years, the yearning to connect with people struck back, the fear of being hurt or hurting others still lingering though; a hedgehog’s dilemma, longing for the warmth of others to not freeze but unable to get too close so as not to be hurt…

Fortunately, in the following years I came to peace with my own “demons” (or at least some of them) and am enjoying of an amazing and beautiful relationship and opening up my feelings and personal thoughts with people. This of course was not an easy feat, nor I could have done it alone. I was fortunate of having crossed paths with great people who contributed to accept myself, see things through a different lens and eventually and with a lot of patience, having the courage to move forward as I am.

The journey not being over yet and many shackles still to be broken, but I hope and know I will eventually get there…and exposing myself to a camera lens being one of the opportunities to accept me as I am.