Bonds of Vanity, Freedom in Humility

Matt Bottos

Victoria, Australia

Artist's Description

This is an image that I uploaded a while ago. I had it titled ‘Bonds of Vanity, Freedom in Humility’ for a few minutes before I removed it as it felt like a stupid thing to say.

The reason I thought about re-uploading it, is that I think this is pretty significant for me. This is a self portrait but I struggled with saying this. I have feared what people will think about what I’m saying here as it does seem quite trivial compared to other people with ‘real’ problems. This embarrassment only adds fuel to the problem as it denies me the will to address it. It’s also generally not the type of thing that blokes are ‘supposed’ to talk about. At this stage I hope to address it, gain insight and move on.

Part of me feels as though I need to validate myself, to prove my strength, to show everyone what I’m worth. The other part of me is shy and wants to hide away under a rock. These two feelings create an ongoing inner battle. The closest thing I’ve found to date that I can relate to, is a concept from Zen Buddhism called ‘Hon-shin, Mo-shin’ which relates to the battle between the true mind/spirit and the deluded/false mind.

I guess the ironic thing about this pic is that I’m trying so hard to depict strength but really I think it depicts my weakness. It’s the person that craves attention from others so much but at the same time is so scared to reveal the person within. No matter how hard the person depicted in this photo tries, he will always fall short of his goals and will always feel bad about himself for not reaching those goals. Yet somehow, deep down he knows that he and everyone else has great potential. We all just need the courage to believe in ourselves… in our true hearts.

I feel addressing this is just a start and that I have a long way to go. I am very self conscious about how my body looks. I really don’t like being a skinny guy, always living with the thought that people think I’m lanky & weak. I think Ive worked hard to counter this (gym, boxing etc) but now I’m starting to understand why and realise that my efforts have been futile. This shot has been composed in a way that hides my lankiness or what my head sees as my physical “flaws”. I think only once Ive embraced all that I am, shortcomings included, will I truly obtain freedom.

I remember a while back reading through Tony Ryan’s Bodyline calendar where all the beautiful female models wrote about their body image issues and I remember thinking how crazy it all sounded. Funny thing is that I never really saw that I was doing the same thing.

At the moment, I see myself passing my insecurities on to my children and this horrifies me. This has probably made me realise the importance of getting this all sorted out. I want them more than anything to believe in the strength (non physical) and potential they have. I get so frustrated when they don’t believe in themselves yet I seem to constantly fall into this trap myself. I know they are too young to comprehend all this at the moment but the best way for me to deal with it is to lead by example…. to have faith & believe in me.

I hope what I’m waffling on about makes sense… sometimes I feel like I think so much on things I get my self confused!

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