El Estoque

A year in selfies

Student reflects on taking daily snapshots throughout 2017

Charlotte Chui

It was tradition for senior Kavin Sivakumar to come up with a resolution at the start of every new year. For 2015, he made it a goal to run a mile every week. For 2016, he promised himself that he wouldn’t drink soda or eat red meat. Continuing this pattern, Sivakumar’s 2017 resolution was to take a selfie every day for a year and observe how he changed over the course of the year.

Sivakumar drew inspiration from a video he saw in his photography class, where a man completed a similar project by taking daily pictures of himself for seven years. Seeing the video pan out sparked his interest in seeing his own growth over time.

“Through the process, I just got more familiarized with my face because I feel like a lot of people are scared or are like, ‘Don’t take a picture of me. I don’t want to be photographed,’” Sivakumar said. “I’ve never been like that. But I always get a little self-conscious when I take selfies.”

When taking pictures of himself for his resolution, Sivakumar worried about the various factors that go into a selfie, such as his appearance, facial expressions, the angle and even minute details like how his eyebrows must align with the three by three grid on his phone’s camera.

Posting his selfies daily on social media helped him with this as he became more comfortable with himself. By the end of 2017, he had taken over 400 pictures of himself, including ones with friends.

“I’m pretty narcissistic,” Sivakumar said. “I think people think of me as very self-centered, which I don’t think is a bad thing. When I realized that I’ve literally posted a picture of myself every single day for a whole year, I was like, ‘This is the biggest thing for my own vanity that I’ve ever done.’”

Senior and Sivakumar’s friend senior Sydney Ty echoed a similar sentiment.

“I thought it was very like Kavin because I know he enjoys taking selfies,” Ty said.

But this experience had another unexpected effect for Sivakumar: attention from followers. Over the course of 2017, Sivakumar’s selfies on Instagram became an expected occurrence for his followers.

“People just got used to [my daily selfies],” Sivakumar said. “When I didn’t post a selfie for a while, people on my Instagram were like, ‘Where’s my selfie? Where’s my daily selfie?’”

Senior and Sivakumar’s friend Danette Loo is one of these supporters.

“His captions were really funny and I enjoyed looking at them everyday,” Loo said. “Sometimes, I don’t see Kavin so it was nice to see [his selfie posts].”

Ty had a similar response to Loo, commending Sivakumar’s commitment. Though Sivakumar faced challenges with his goal, such as when he missed a few days during a three month long trip to India or during a hectic junior school year, Ty found his consistency admirable.

“I felt like it was a huge accomplishment that he kept up with it for most of the year,” Ty said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with something like [that].”

Friends such as Ty and Loo enjoyed seeing Sivakumar’s posts and captions every day. Loo in particular liked that they allowed him to express a different side of himself. Sivakumar used these daily pictures to create a compilation at the end, spanning from Jan. 2017 to Jan. 2018.

As Loo appears in many of the group selfies Sivakumar had taken throughout the year, she felt that  these daily pictures were a way to reflect on moments from her own life as well. Because of this,  viewing the final product was an exciting experience for her.

“It was like we were building up to this moment where we finally have a whole video made,” Loo said. “We’re obviously not going to have an exciting or activity-filled day every single day, and just seeing those moments where we hung out together and had good times really reminded me of those days.”

Sivakumar did have this purpose in mind when initially posting his selfies on Instagram, feeling that it was a convenient way to keep a record and compile the pictures in one place. Eventually, he found that these Instagram posts served another purpose as well.

“Every day when I wrote a caption for [my selfies], I just vented out my frustration or simply got my thoughts out,” Sivakumar said. “In a way, it was like a diary. Every single post, I wrote how I was feeling that day. I can recount my year.”

For Sivakumar, these daily posts allow him to go back and pinpoint a specific moment, reflecting upon his changes and feelings over the course of the year. He feels that he has grown more laid-back and relaxed with this safe space to express his feelings honestly, with a positive mindset that every day is a new one.

Though he is unsure of how long he intends to take these daily selfies, Sivakumar is certain of his decision to continue this project. In fact, he has made it his 2018 resolution to document his year in selfies but with one change in mind: to smile more in photos.

“As soon as I posted that last selfie, I was like, ‘Do I continue doing this?’” Sivakumar said. “And then I just said to myself, ‘Let’s dive back in.’ Who knows how far I’ll go?”

About the Writer
Charlotte Chui, Copy Editor
Members and officers help out at the annual fundraising event