See them for what they really are

I've been moving over the past month and going through my old photos because I want to get rid of most of them.

I've thrown several photos away, which is a relief however there are still so many that I feel obliged to keep them even though they don't reveal anything or make me feel all that good.

One I am keeping is of me in my first car, wearing a Rainbow Bright t-shirt and an army green jacket with an American Cancer Society pin attached to it, which I got from the organization when they awarded me a scholarship. I had written an essay about what is means to be a cancer survivor, my plans for my future, etc. It was a symbolic gesture.

Without re-reading it, I am fairly certain that I did not write about identity theft, which is what I’ve come to realize it means to be a childhood cancer survivor.  People want to feel good about themselves because their donation saved your life or something. I know now I do not have to believe that but growing up it was hard not become a sick people pleaser for awhile.

I also have a medal around my neck. I think I got it for swimming. The ribbon it's attached to is red, white and blue and I'm holding it out away from my chest. I am looking at something beyond the camera, in the distance behind it, emotionless. I don't know who took this picture, but I am familiar with this pose and expression; I did it frequently when I was a teenager.

It was an attempt at humor. It was also my smug nature. I styled this photo and struck this pose as a way of mocking the awards I was given upon graduating high school.

The uncomfortable realization here is that I've reached for this same effect too often in adulthood as well. Wanting recognition, then rejecting it-even mocking it-when it comes my way. For the most part, I've stopped doing this; at least now I am very conscious of it when I do do it.

For now, I'll keep this photo as a reminder that insincere actions don't usually work out for me.

One photo I am throwing out is of my college roommate helping our friend glue devil horns on his forehead before going out for Halloween one year.

It's not a well framed shot, neither one is paying attention to the camera. I already have several pictures of this night that I am keeping, though some that are actually less interesting than this. This one looks an accident.

The background is too dark to see who else is at the party and I am tired of keeping party pics around for the sake of having them. I partied a lot in college. It wasn't epic or life-affirming. I definitely did not write that in my essay about the future of a cancer survivor even though I always knew it was part of my plan. 

I have a lot of useless pictures of this time.  I feel good about having one less.