I SHOWED UP
Two years ago, I decided I was ready to test myself and see how it felt to be the person in front of the camera instead of the one behind it. Everyday, I ask someone else to let me photograph them. Everyday, I guide people in how to pose, tilt their head, look at the camera all while expecting them to feel an automatic comfort level with both me and my camera. What I seem to have forgotten is what it really FEELS like to be that person on the other side of the lens. The one who is the entire focus of the shoot. The one who has to allow themselves to be open and vulnerable in hopes of having a few good images capture “who they are.”
When it was my turn to be seen, my internal experience was more jarring than I was prepared for. Two days prior to the shoot I started to notice my little insecurities rearing their ugly heads. My ego was feeling brazen and started to speak whenever it damn well felt like it. After spending a few years in therapy I proudly applied what I have learned: I stopped, recognized and acknowledge what was happening, allowed myself to feel how the words in my head made me feel and tried to move on.
Hour by hour, as the day of the shoot drew near my fun little voices of the past increased a few decibels and my ego had even found its way into my dreams. Its mission: to remind me exactly what my inadequacies are and why I will never be worthy of being in front of a camera. It was high school on steroids. On the day of the shoot, my session wasn’t until the evening; from the moment I woke up and looked in the mirror, I was tempted to cancel. All I could hear when I looked at myself was, “Are you kidding? What is the point of getting your picture taken? Your face is too fat, your arms are too big, you don’t look how you want to look, you don’t have the right clothes….the list went on and on AND on.
What I chose to do at that moment was to walk the hell away from the mirror, poured a glass of liquid courage and started listing the things that made me feel good about myself: I have nice eyes, my hair is pretty (when it doesn’t look like I’m a chia pet on steroids). But, mostly what I started listing off that I loved about myself was everything that the camera wouldn’t see. That I am more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been, that I am starting to love myself and all that I can offer, that I am a strong woman with a kick-ass spiritual side. Most of all, that I am a person who has overcome some really terrible things along the way and have been courageous enough to face them all over again in order to heal and finally get some peace. This mindset is what got me ready.
As I started to pull myself together and accentuate the things I like about myself, I became more confidant. Now, I’m not saying those little voices went away and I didn’t have to fight back my ego like a MMA cage fighter; but what I did choose to do was SHOW UP.
I showed up to a promise I made to myself long ago; that I would not be one of those people who would let my past determine or ruin my present. Many years have been lost already to worry and fear for one reason or another and I have punished myself enough. I showed up because I don’t want to be one of those people who never feel pretty enough to have their picture taken. I want to have pictures of me with my kids and to have proof that I happily existed in their world. I showed up for the “chubby” little girl that I carry with me who never felt pretty enough. I showed up for the “lost young woman” that I was for many years who never felt good enough. I showed up for my daughter so she can say that her mom never let her insecurities stand in her way. I showed up for my son so he can say that women are beautiful and strong regardless of what size they are. Above all else, I showed up for me. For the woman I am now and the woman I am becoming. Because I owe it to myself to be true to who I am right now.
(Image by Fabiano Reani Photographer).