It was a conversation we couldn’t believe we were having out loud, in a group, because it’s one that we just thought we had… in our head. Until we realized that we weren’t the only ones who have thought it. And we realized it was time to talk about it. Right then. Right there. A group of photographers. Different ages. Different genders. Different backgrounds. But the same insecurity siphoning our happiness and stealing our confidence. This sentence: I’m not like ____________________. Insert the name of the “successful” photographer of your choice. Have you ever felt that way? Are you there? We all were, too. Were being the optimal word.
With Chipotle burritos in our hands on the lunch break during last week’s workshop, things got real. Fast. One after the next, tears welled up in eyes on all four corners of the table. Some more than others, but even if the tears weren’t visible, our hearts all cried out the same feelings, from the photographer with just weeks of experience to the one with over a decade of it. All the lies.
I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too new. I’ve been around too long. I’m too quiet. I’m too loud. I’m a parent. I’m not. I’m a single mom. I’m a wife. I was a wife. I’m not cute enough. I don’t know enough. I wish I would’ve started my business sooner. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it. I’m not like ____________________. My story isn’t hers. Or his. Or theirs. There’s nothing interesting about me.
Because those are the lies we tell ourselves. And, up until that moment, it’s the lie we told ourselves, too. And it was remarkable, a true revelation, to hear one photographer after the next say the same thing, My hand was shaking when I pushed submit. And after I paid for the workshop, I still almost didn’t come. I almost backed out I don’t know how many times. I didn’t feel good enough.
And that group, that brave group, said the same thing about the welcome event the night before. I went back to my hotel and cried, because for two hours I looked around the room at everyone else and thought, “These girls all have it together. What in the world did I get myself into? I don’t belong.” That’s when we made a stunning confession to them: we felt the same way last night. You should’ve seen the looks on their faces. “Last night, when we drove home from the welcome event,” we told them, “we thought to ourselves, ‘These girls totally have it together. What could we possibly teach them.”
God’s given you a story
We’re reading an inspiring book right now called The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. He’s a writer who teaches aspiring writers how to become better writers. (You can sign up for his free newsletter here. It’s really good and has helped us a ton. In “The Art of Work,” Jeff says something in the introduction that’s so profound that it’s worth sharing here, because it’s everything this post summarized in one neat, tidy, powerful sentence.
He says, “The Art of Work was not the book I intended to write, but ended up being the one I was supposed to write.”
Translation: Your story isn’t the one you intended to tell, but it’s the one you are supposed to tell.
So, stop waiting. Go tell it. Someone — maybe a lot of people — needs to hear it. And the longer you wait, the longer it’ll be until they’re brave enough to tell theirs, too.
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