Who I Am

Well, I’m Dan Williams, born Daniel Richard Williams, on Saturday, the 7th of May, 1983, the day before Mother’s Day.

I grew up in the Baptist Christian faith, and it still holds as my foundation, though I have stretched beyond that, and opened my mind to other possibilities and a larger extent of the meaning of the claims of the God of the Bible…God is infinite, creator of all that is, was, and will be. God must be more than just the one collection of writings we call The Bible.

Growing up, I was the awkward kid, who didn’t quite understand social interactions, or how to do what other people expected me to do. School was a great struggle for me. I felt as if I wasn’t learning anything, or at least not what to do with the information they were trying to give me. I kept trying, but couldn’t keep focused. I was diagnosed ADD (non-hyperactive) in 1992, but that of course didn’t mean a thing to any teacher other than an “excuse to misbehave,” which was not what I wanted, I wanted to learn, but I needed more interaction in order to learn, or an ability to switch between topics more frequently. I needed to be engaged with, not just force fed information.

However, between high school and college I began having panic attack seizure-like episodes. Through the attempts at figuring out what was going on, I was put on various medications. The side effects to some of them caused me to sleep during classes, and not at night, and I was not able to comprehend pre-calc due to the poorly timed sleep. When I started college, I was planning on majoring in Physics with the hope of teaching high school physics in a manor similar to the teacher I had in 9 grade–no homework, no tests, graded on enthusiasm and what the students physically showed that we learned, by doing.

I struggled with depression through the struggles of school, social interactions, and disappointing my parents by not being able to function quite right. But with my faith foundation, I was able to find the strength to continue and not commit suicide; though I still get PSTD attacks from the flashbacks… so I changed from a physics major to a photography major. And the rest is history.

I’ve been unemployed since June 2005, when the pastor of the church I was working at decided I was having too many seizures to continue working 3-4 hours a day, three days a week, with my mom supervising me in the office. So I began my Disability application in March 2006, and am on my third attempt–they’ve denied me because my seizures are not epilepsy, and my psychological conditions haven’t been currently documented to their satisfaction.

I finally got approved for Disability after 12 years, and used the three years of backpay to buy new camera equipment and an RV. I used my Disability money to change my life for the better, in hopes of being able to eventually accomplish something productive/profitable.

But still, anxiety is a constant battle, and maintaining focus on one topic at a time for more than a few seconds usually drives me bonkers. Though every once in a while things flow nicely, such as while I’m writing this: here I am, talking about myself, and copying what I wrote several years ago and updating this with a bit more current data. But yeah, most of this page I wrote over the past 15 years with occasional updates...

(another write-up)

I am, obviously, Dan Williams. I was born Saturday, May 7, 1983, the day before Mother's Day, in Ventura, CA. The day before, my parents finished building a canoe, and tested it out in the harbor. And then a week later, they took me onto the pier, with waves crashing over the top. I've always loved the ocean, and water, but have a healthy respect for it. I won't surf, but I take great photos of surfers from the shore or pier.

A month before I turned 3, my sister was born, and then we moved to the San Bernardino Mountains for a few years. Our parents worked at a Christian camp, where my love of God's Creation (nature) grew, as did My Faith. I learned ping pong, shuffle board, giant bubbles, and stained glass, but didn't keep up with any of those skills.

For most of elementary school, we lived in Eureka, CA, and for Christmas in 2nd Grade, I got my first camera. It was one of those "reel to reel" 110 film canister cameras, orange with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle transparency in the corner; didn't take long for me to learn how to remove it. But it was my first camera, and I loved it. I also got into computers this year (1992); my friend, Mike, and I would fax each other in Wingdings, and play Sim City 2000. Like any kid, I also got into cars: Hot Wheels and Micromachines, and building models; I also started looking up each new years' cars, and drawing. My uncle worked fairly high up at General Motors, and sent me lots of brochures and magazines about tech development and concept designs. But I found more interest in the pictures than the articles and information. I was diagnosed ADD.

Depression in Junior High as we moved to Wisconsin in 1996, cost me a lot of interests. I kept up with band, and became interested in physics: I decided I, too, would teach High School Physics.

In 2000, my Junior Year of HS, we moved back to California, to San Luis Obispo. National Politics (budget cuts) and the move, put me short of being able to graduate high school, and so I took the Proficiency Exam at the end of my Junior Year, and only had three years of High School. I took Fall of 2001 off...

I had tried to join the National Guard in the summer of 2001, but was denied due to being on Ritalin between '93 and '97. Then September 11, 2001 happened, and then a month later, a year after moving from Wisconsin, I had my first seizure. Exactly what the Recruiter was worried about.

I started Cuesta College in January 2002, planning to major in Physics. But a few years in, and the various seizure medications, I couldn't keep up with Pre-Calculus, and gave up on physics. I decided to try photography/videography. I took Broadcasting classes and Black/White Film Photography classes. I also got involved in the Student Government and the school Newspaper. I helped ensure California Community Colleges would keep Designated Smoking Zones instead of a complete ban, as a compromise for interested parties that I otherwise disagreed with.

By 2005, I was unable to hold a regular job, and began applying for Disability in 2006. I continued at Cuesta after graduating with an AA in General Studies, because the school didn't offer a Photography or Journalism Degree. I eventually went on to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online; I knew more about photography than most of the teachers, I had more experience with photography and computers. My seizures made keeping up with the non-photography aspects of the school, which was far more often than I was hoping when I enrolled. Eventually, the school kicked me out due to my seizures affecting my ability to log in to the online classes. A great waste.

The 2010s were spent doing my own photography, as I felt driven, and waiting on Disability to be approved. And learning "Life Lessons." Finally, in 2018, after 12 years, I got approved for Disability, and a year later was able to buy my RV, a New camera, and New lenses. Five months to get the ABS fixed, and I hit the road in my RV on Easter of 2020.