When we become comfortable with who we are.
My husband likes to refer me to photographers I should check out. To learn from, he says. He also tells me I need to venture away from my singular lens I use to capture 99% of things. Okay, maybe 100%.
The blogs I read tell me the same thing, as do other photographers, who I watch marching around weddings with various lenses hanging on straps around their torsos, every so often pausing to twist one off & replace it with a different shaped barrel. I see their pictures of all the lenses they’ve accumulated through the years.
I see them. & when I focus in on them, my stomach twists. Because they work in a way that looks a lot more fancy than I do. They look a lot more professional. Some even make their photos look a bit hazy, skin more equivalent to butter, with that dream, heaven-like appearance. They are put together & have it all down & probably never stare at a session for days debating what looks best. They’re smooth, & when I look at them & all they have & all their deep knowledge, I imagine they talk with friends about the 975984 millimeter lens they want to invest in next & how many pixels this camera they have can hold & lots of other really fanciful things.
& I can focus on all of this-everything I’m not-so easily. I can get swept away in the sea of comparison all too easily. I know the tides when I feel them meeting my ankles.
I used to sit on it. As women we do that, don’t we? Even when we say comparison is BAD & women support women & she is not your competition, it still is something you have to reassure your thoughts on a daily basis. Just because deep down we know the truth, doesn’t mean in that same compartment of our hearts we won’t wrestle.
Mara reached out to me a couple weeks ago, asking if I would be willing to meet up & do her senior portraits. Although I don’t really get nervous for sessions anymore, I kind of do still on one occasion: if I know them. Know them, meaning have had relationships with them outside of being their photographer. People from high school, church friends & fam, real family,… the first shoot with them all. I am nervous. Why? Because I want so badly to live up to their expectations. & what if they hate their photos? What if they don’t have fun? What if they regret coming to me? What if its awkward?
I live in this bubble until the shoot is generally complete. So when Mara asked me to do her session, & with her being my husband’s cousin, I was admittedly… nervous. Until we started. Its like the second we began, she was so graceful, posing & laughing & confident & comfortable. What struck me was how unapologetically herself she was.
She didn’t hesitate to make a pose her own, & seemed to combine what I said with what was natural for her, & the product was so beautiful, the photos so fully her.
I want to be like that. I want to live so unapologetically me that I don’t graze others work to see what I need to get better at to be more competitive, I don’t want to live on Pinterest before sessions, trying to make sure my game plan is secure in a way there won’t be any silences I can’t fill, & I don’t want to try to accumulate pieces of everyone else to build myself up & make myself better. I want to be me.
& I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement, or room to look to peers & take away things from our role models that will benefit our well-being. But are you trying to build yourself into you, or are you trying to be them? Or are you honestly just trying to make yourself pleasing to others? Are you trying to be better than them or the best version of yourself?
There’s right & wrong. There’s bettering ourselves, & then there’s comparison. Which mark are you hitting?
A month or so ago, I bought a hand-lettering book I had been eyeing for a few weeks. Having this conference coming up at church & trying to plan decor, a lot of it I’ve decided to just make myself to save the budget where we can. We wanted to make a cute wall of quotes & encouragement, so I’ve been trying to write pretty things on card stock every day.
Let me tell you, I had SO. Much. Trouble. Getting started. Seriously, it was a nightmare, barely moving past a single page by the end of the week. I’ve always been good at hand-lettering, literally going back to high school when, as a cheerleader, I used to spend all my free time & study halls painting signs for football games, basketball games, hallways, etc. Its always been a niche of mine. & now, when I actually needed to put it to use for good, I was on struggle bus city. & do you know why? I was trying so hard to make my lettering look more like hers.
I’ve been making my own signs for years, painting canvas’ for friends, & now, in this moment, I decided my own handwriting wasn’t cutting it. After all, I didn’t make this book, did I? Something so unique as hand lettering, where every artist has their own style, & I decided my style just wasn’t enough. I needed to be like hers.
The second I put the book away & stopped trying to mimic her, the pages started to fly. When I was comfortable enough with my own lettering, my own gifting & the beauty of the imperfections it may hold… then I was able to work freely & to stop getting tripped up by the fact it wasn’t hers.
Its a hard line to follow. Cheering others on & seeing them along side you, rather than farther above or below. But its one I am personally working on. Being more like Mara. Or, more like me. Unapologetically me.