Getting Comfortable In My Own Skin

Trusting a process. Visibility. Expectations. Not small themes I think. They come up frequently with my clients a lot also. One year ago this month, I hired a professional photographer to take photos of me for business. Sounds nice, right? The truth was, I'd put this off for many years, in many ways, and for plenty of good and not so good reasons. I found a lovely woman to work with and we got rolling. 

I wrote about the experience right afterwards, but wasn't ready to share it until now. Sometimes I need to process and wait until the right time. My earliest experience with a professional photographer was when I was a kid; my brother and I were taking theater/acting classes, and they suggested we get head shots for auditions. I'll never forget the man who lead the company telling me (in his deep, chain-smoker voice) that I 'didn't have the look and didn't photograph well'. I was devastated. I remember feeling so bad about myself in that moment - 'too fat, not pretty, not good enough'. Our culture and mass media messaging hasn't exactly helped with this either eh? These sorts of experiences allow us to make up stories that become imprinted and, later, proven over and over again - and what else was I to think? My brother was adorable, took fantastic photos, and booked commercials. The result was placing him on a pedestal - one I would never be on. 

Having professional photos taken all these years later - even though the context and my own personality is very different - I still carried some of those beliefs and stories with me. We all do that, don't we? Find ways to prove those old stories right, even if it means making up more stories in our minds? We just vacuum that junk right up. My good friend Michelle often laughs with me about this very thing as we say: "Let that shit go." Easier said than done, sometimes.

Last summer was already a very challenging time for me, but I was open to learning from being with that pain. It is often through those difficult times that there are countless healing moments, hidden gems, and things that can save - if you allow them. I thought, "This is the time to get those photos taken. It will be different, it will help me feel better!" Talk about high expectations. I thought I'd feel AMAZING during the shoot...and I didn't. I was petrified, nervous, and tense. I had created an entire fantasy that having photos taken would be an immediate, transformative and magical experience, but the reality was that although the photographer was fabulous and one which I highly recommend, I felt exhausted and spaced out by the end. As I dragged myself to Whole Foods to try and piece together some sort of dinner and catch the fleeting sunset to enjoy my 'accomplishment', I realized this was just like any other day. I had put so much pressure on myself!  

We often reap the rewards of our actions and accomplishments LATER (hence the term 'hind-site is 20/20’). Immediate gratification is what we get sometimes (social media has messed with us on this), but many things of real value are worth waiting for, and grow over time. Now, I can look back and see that I did have some fun and learn a lot - it just wasn't what I expected, and that's okay! I am so proud of myself for taking those photos, and I feel like it's a good time to share about it. Then, I was filled with fear and loneliness during a difficult time - and that photo shoot did eventually help me feel better. It just wasn't in the way or at the time I thought it would happen. 

I took a scary leap. I trusted a capable, talented woman, and learned a lot through something uncomfortable. Next time, it will actually be different. I now know what to do. I was reminded of how hard I am on myself, how human I am, and that I need to remember: 'perfectly imperfectly perfect'. We allow so many limiting beliefs to yank us down to homeostasis - but getting more comfortable in your skin takes time and is possible. I am grateful for that.