Portraits Of Boston: 'Trying Not To Give Up'

“I’m trying not to give up.”

“When have you felt like giving up?”

“About a month ago — I have a history of depression, and sometimes that gets overwhelming. I wasn’t quite suicidal, but I still felt like maybe life was not worth living.”

“How did you overcome that?”

“I think persistence has been the key to my life — I just keep trying. I know it’s cliché, but it’s helped me get through.”

“Is persistence the only thing that helped you a month ago?”

“No, I also had a great conversation with my mother, which healed a lot of old issues. Sometimes you have to make the choice to move on from things. Because I was gay, the whole experience of growing up was pretty traumatic: I had to deal with other people’s perceptions of me. It was a difficult period that left a lot of scars.

The other important thing that’s helped me — perhaps the most important thing — is having compassion for myself. I think that’s the key to surviving, and more important than self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is something people often can’t wrap their heads around: ‘How do I accept myself when I don’t like myself? How do I forgive myself for the things I’ve done?’ I think that’s where compassion comes in — it gets you away from trying to accept all of those things, and helps you understand that you are a work in progress.”

Portraits of Boston is a project of independent photographer Ivan Velinov. He is regularly sharing some of his favorite portraits with WBUR. Visit his website to see the hundreds of portraits he has taken on the streets of Boston.


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