Right now, you are standing on the precipice of something new, and something exciting, and something that has the power to fill you up so full you won’t know what to do with all your extra. But it’s scary, doing something new, and so you’re drawing all your courage together to take the first step. Once you start, the fear will fade away a little bit. You don’t think you’ll need quite so much courage anymore as your confidence builds, but please hang onto it, because you know what? You know that courage that you needed to step out and start this journey? You’re going to need it to face what i’m about to tell you, to follow through on this big truth.
As you fall deeper into this journey, you will realize something. It will occur to you that at some point along the path of growing up, you were taught that part of being a woman, a mother, a person, is not liking yourself all that much. And because fitting in mattered, because others were doing it, because you wanted to be liked and the same and embraced, you decided to do it too. You brushed off complements. You pretended you hated what you saw in the mirror. You talked down about your joys and your accomplishments and all the things God had given you that made you who you are. And, eventually, you stopped doing it because you thought you had to, and you started to do it because suddenly you believed it. What began as a way to gain acceptance became a new truth, a new frame of reference, a new lens through which you saw the world- the lens of “you’re not good enough” was permanently set before your eyes.
But let me tell you something- it’s not real, that lens. The negative self talk, the refusal to acknowledge your own worth, none of that is what you were created to be or how you were designed to feel. This journey you’ve started is going to do something incredible, something important and life changing and necessary. It’s going to start to remove that lens and erase those beliefs. It’s going to bring back those feelings of rightness and feeling comfortable and happy with you that you felt when you were young, and you’re going to realize that you shouldn’t have to live in a place of self hatred just to fit in.When you wake up feeling good in your own skin, you should wear that in your walk and in your smile, not hide it so that maybe others won’t dislike you for loving you. When you create an image that makes your soul sing, you should let your soul sing, because it comes from a place that’s so much bigger than yourself.
That confidence you feel? That joy? That deep contentment with what you’ve created and who you’re becoming and who you already are? That’s not conceit. That’s not a good reason for the world to reject you. That’s you accepting this gift God has given you- your life, your uniqueness, your beautiful, perfect purpose for this world. Stop hiding it. Stop pretending it’s not real. Take a deep breath and use your courage to own who and what you are and to show world that it’s ok to feel beautiful and to know you are good at what you do. Never stop learning. Never stop working to improve, to be the best version of yourself you were created to be. Never think there isn’t more work to be done (because there is always more work to be done). But don’t ever, not for a second, be afraid to admit that you are in possession of talents that are worth working for.
Be humble. Be gracious. Be constantly aware that your successes, your failures, your journey are not just for you- they are all gifts for you to use as a way to bless this world. But do yourself the greatest favor you ever could, and stop believing the lie that to be welcomed, acknowledged, or included among others that you first need to stop loving yourself. You are a gift to this world, and you have things to give and work to do, but you will never be able to do it if you aren’t willing to embrace their inherent goodness. There are enough things in this life you aren’t good at; there is no reason why you shouldn’t be grateful for the things that you are. You have a lot of work ahead of you, and in 2 years, you still won’t really know where this whole thing is going- but you will know that you aren’t ready for it to stop. So push forward. Love yourself on the hard days, give your joy to others on the good days, and know that there is so much more to this whole thing than learning how to make beautiful photos. You are learning how to make a beautiful life.
About the photographer:
Liz is a teacher-turned-stay-at-home-mom to two boys in south eastern Pennsylvania. She is married to her college sweetheart, attached to her camera, and almost always has a cup of (decaf) coffee in her hand. This is the blog post she wrote when she first started down the road to becoming a photographer, even though she still considers herself to be a serious hobbyist.