I really enjoy looking at selfies, but I’m bad at them myself. I think it’s a confidence thing. I feel uncomfortable being in the spotlight and the center of attention. I had braces as a kid, then my gap grew back and a tooth came in crooked, so I smile with my mouth closed now. I’m not too into my smile, so looking at my photos always feels a little awkward. As a result, my instagram is mostly pictures of things and other people.
This is something I think about a lot, because selfies remind me of running around with a disposable camera as a kid, a toy that usually didn’t get developed for years at a time. I like selfies because it feels very carefree and positive and confident on behalf of the selfie-taker. I respect that a lot, that ability to just put yourself out there, but I balk when it comes to doing it myself.
I talk with a few friends about fear a lot. Being afraid to do something new, afraid to finish something, afraid to make a decision. We haven’t talked about being afraid of selfies, but honestly? I think I’m afraid of selfies. My lack of confidence results in an inability to think I can take worthwhile pictures of myself. Fear was a big running theme as a kid at church, too. “God did not give me a spirit of fear,” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” these were mantras that were meant to keep you confident and honest. It was a signifier that fear was an outside imposition, and that we are bigger than fear. Fear is an impediment.
I went into San Diego Comic-Con with one thought in mind: I can do this. I had to do my day job of proofing and approving books at the printer, and I had to do my con job, which was running or being on seven panels, assisting on signings, and general troubleshooting. It made my schedule very, very tight. I spent maybe half an hour walking the show to see things each day, spread out into five or ten minute increments, before rubber-banding back to the booth or to a panel. My day job had to get done, too, so I was up early and in bed late almost every day of the show to get things done. If I’m behind on my job, my coworkers get behind on their job, so I made sure they had what they needed before the gig opened for business each day.
It was tough, and I knew it would be tough. My plan was to balance that toughness with tactical hangouts, maximizing my enjoyment and seeing people I see rarely or whose company I enjoy a whole lot. It worked. I had a great time.
My friend Dennis “Edison Rex” Culver, pictured above in a third-person selfie taken by a mutual friend, coined #selfiegocomiccon. I was at a dinner with him and some very good friends, we were all dressed up, and I don’t even remember how it came up, but we needed to record it not for posterity, but for us, because we’re beautiful people who do dope things. So after dinner, in a nearly empty restaurant, we did a round-robin photoshoot, where everybody got photos with each other and we took photos in various groups. We tagged it #selfiegocomiccon, and sometimes #selfiegocomicon.
I’d already planned to instagram each outfit I wore each day, which would be selfies, but I decided to directly address my fear by going all in on #selfiegocomiccon. I took a bunch of selfies with my wonderful friends, but I also reached out to strangers. I reached out to cosplayers and also one statue at the 2000AD booth.
I respect cosplayers. I don’t have the confidence to put myself out there like that. I don’t have the patience to carefully put together a costume, either. I recognize the hustle and I respect it. So I wanted to demonstrate it a little. I make it a point to talk to cosplayers at the show and hook them up at signings or give them some of my time if they want it. This year, I stepped toward ultra-casual cosplay. I put together a couple outfits that were directly inspired by things I liked, but not necessarily 100%. I love Monkey Punch’s Lupin the 3rd and Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, so I attended the show in clothes reminiscent of Lupin and Kaneda (specifically the pink polo & white pants), but with modifications made for comfort and style.
I figured I could draft off their enthusiasm and confidence and steal some for myself, even as I figured out the mechanical aspects of taking selfies (I have long arms, which helps, but you know. There’s angles to this ish.) and learning to if not appreciate, at least accept, my smile. And I did a lot of smiling. I mean, I smile all the time, I feel like, but now there’s a record of me actively smiling. That’s appreciably different. Doing it vs knowing you’re doing it/doing it intentionally. Also I could take pictures of people dressed like cartoon characters I like a lot.
That was a big part of another decision I made at the show, which was breaking comfort zones. I’m comfortable, but I’m in a rut. I’m not branching out enough. So I made a bunch of decisions I normally wouldn’t, up to and including wearing a bunch of colors I usually don’t. White pants and white shirt? Whooof…okay. Yellow shirt? Cripes, man. Fine. But I did it, and people dug it. Which was very nice.
What helped me out in a big way was something that happened on the first proper day of the show. I was wearing my Lupin getup, a black shirt over black pants and a powder blue tie. A Lupin cosplayer came into the booth to poke around, and it was like serendipity. I asked for a selfie, she was like “yeah!” and we were off at the races. It helped me out a lot, like a good omen or something. It felt good.
If you’re afraid of something…just do it. I was at a basketball tourney over the 4th of July weekend and on the wall was the phrase “NO EXCUSE. JUST PRODUCE.” That’s real talk. No matter what the project is, no matter how daunting, one thing is always true: Ain’t nothing to it but to do it. For me, it was doing selfies until I got over myself and felt comfortable, and then good about it. The support of my friends and passion from cosplayers, who were very kind with their time as I figured out angles and whatnot, helped me over that hump.
As a bonus, here’s a song I like from Space Dandy and a picture of me and fellow Lumberjerk Chris Sims as Sailors Mars and Moon:
Selfie tips appreciated.