As I drifted to sleep last night, I wished my heart would just stop beating while I slept.

June 15th, 2014, 12pm

It was 16°C with scattered clouds. The breeze was light.

I wrote the lines above yesterday morning, after a particularly bad night’s sleep. As I write this, I’m sitting on a train heading into London, to spend the night with friends in Kennington. Tomorrow morning, a car will pick me up and take me to the ITV studios, where, at 11am, I’ll do a segment on live TV, teaching the hosts a little about photography.

I’m not nervous about this — I’ve spent so much time in front of audiences that the idea itself doesn’t phase me. But I’m shaky (emotionally and physically), in the way I have been for many of the last 18 months. It comes with a major lack of self-confidence in my general ability to be a functioning member of society vs. the specific abilities needed to do many of the things I do (which I tend to have a high degree of confidence in, though that varies from time to time). I’ve felt this for years, but never this strong, never so crippling.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, and I often feel like I have no right to feel so incompetent at life, considering how many people are dealing with much more (and worse) than I am. And yet the shaking and sleepless nights are not figments of my imagination.

The last year has been full of amazing things, some of the most incredible experiences of my life so far. It has also been one of the hardest years of my life, losing so much, starting from scratch in so many ways, and fighting the urge every day to just give up on everything. I’ve left my closest family, my music, my work, and a very few close friends behind in Florida, on top of having lost the new life and friends I had been building in Newcastle, and nearly a year after leaving the US I still don’t have any goals or dreams to feel like I’m moving toward.

People in multiple industries look to me for inspiration, for advice, professionally and personally, and I often wonder why. What is it that makes me seem like I’m a good role model? Why have I been so lucky to be surrounded by so many intelligent, capable, successful (by whichever measure you use), and altruistic people over the years? In the positive sense: why me?

Some of these thoughts have been with me for years, others are new as of all this recent change — some forced upon me, some brought upon myself — but what I’ve been feeling the last 18 months is completely new, and isn’t going away; if anything, it’s increasing in intensity.

I’m sharing this because I know many people who feel similarly, but don’t share it with the people in their lives. I’m also sharing this because I know people who have shared, even more openly than I’m currently capable of, and I see the positive results that brings.

I do my best to appear like I’ve got my act together (though I’m quick to dispel that myth whenever it comes up in conversation), because that’s what we all do, to varying degrees. When people ask how I am, I try to answer truthfully in that moment, which sometimes means the answer isn’t what people want to hear, and other times I may seem on top of the world.

There is no point to this, no quick thought for you to take away, other than what you may learn about me as a result of having read this far. But I do thank you for reading, and I hope my life continues to serve as some sort of example, whether good or bad, and thus I will continue to share.

Sanna, Christine, So-Shan, John and 43 others said thanks.

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Dan Rubin

Designer, photographer, teacher, storyteller, dreamer.

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