Sitting down to write this has my head spinning. No one will really care what I have to say.
It would be easier to decline and keep my thoughts to myself rather than sifting through what’s rolling around in my deepest core. You see, I have a pesky inner voice that whispers its mantra on repeat: “You’re not good enough.” When you think like this, eventually you start to believe it. It becomes etched on your soul. It’s easier to keep your thoughts to yourself, and certainly less risky.
Upon reflection, I realized that I was tangled in the web of the fame game in the photography world – more simply put, I am chasing numbers. The thing is, maybe you are, too. You might not want to admit it, but it’s true. Hashtag true. Are we all really that starved for attention and validation? Maybe you, too, are afraid of not being good enough or irrelevant. Is your art being compromised? Is this where we are with social media – your numbers are indicative of your talent and abilities, your worth; your feed is so carefully culled for fear of losing your beloved following if you appear “ordinary”; your everyday, including your breakfast, is your brand?
Ohhhh the pressure of being “on.” And when one of your favorites unfollows you, you feel worthless… completely ready to throw in the towel. Okay, maybe that’s just me. But maybe, just maybe, some part of this resonates with you?
I scroll through my Instagram feed because I desire community and crave connection. I love the art others are making; it inspires me – but there’s more to us than our art and our brands, right? Can we return to just being human – spontaneous, unscripted, random, and raw? Remember the good ole days of Instagram filters before VSCO? Ahhhhh, there was a lightheartedness and authenticity back then that seems to have been lost. Now, when I post an iPhone photo, it just isn’t good enough. People drop like flies. So, I’m hustling again to gain some dignity and self worth. I’m playing the numbers game!
But you see, I’m tired. I’m sooooo tired of trying to fit in, tired of being afraid of rejection, tired of trying to be something that I’m not. Can we be authentic about being authentic?
I’m taking the “power” away from public opinion. My life doesn’t look like a page out of a Conde Nast magazine and that is okay. I am well-traveled and am so fortunate to be able to do what I love. I am truly thankful. I have a passion so deep that every time I take my camera out it feels like a cosmic puzzle piece fitting together. Joy is coursing through my veins, making my heart flutter. Forgive me for sounding a bit cliche, but it’s true. I love photography because of the joy it has brought to my life; THIS is what keeps me going. It has been a journey of self-discovery. I have found myself through my art, although my confidence may ebb and flow.
Typing all this makes me feel a little arrogant, but I’m trying to convey that I’m driven by a passion, not a position. I was made to create art, it just took me longer to find my own path and vision; I had to break free from the bondage of insecurity and comparison. It’s a daily battle. However, it is a choice. Your art anthem can be about you, and only you. Beat to your own drum, filter your critics, and if you’re like me, you are your own worst critic. Silence that voice by focusing on your art, having it evolve at it’s own pace. For me, it’s about making a familiar space exciting and seeing it in new ways. I’m in the throes of motherhood, so I won’t be traipsing off to Iceland anytime soon. Someday, maybe.
We all have a unique journey. We all start somewhere, even if it’s with the tell-tale Instagram filter. If we want to promote authenticity, we can start by being authentic. My mistakes are my own, and I have learned from each and every one of them. Sharing these will help the future community of photography. Embrace the stumbles and falls – they are all part of the process.