Be your own superhero, and I am not talking about running around with our underwear over tights (let’s face it NO ONE wants to see that on the average photographer) and a shiny cape saving the world. To me, there are everyday superheroes, who seem to be able to achieve amazing feats that some of us can only dream of. Let’s face it, it’s all too easy to let someone else take the spotlight, right?
Learn to take a calculated risk
I just want to take a step back from everything that I have recently been posting about, and take a little look at pushing your own creativity further. I am not going to say as a photographer, I have “made it” far from it, but I will admit I have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. That is mostly because of one little word — “YES.”
Yes I will push myself further, yes I will take a calculated risk, yes I will trust in the process, yes I will trust in myself. Even when it scares me. Someone recently said, “Oh I could never do what you do, I’m not brave enough, I’m too introverted and scared to do things like you.” I almost burst out laughing.
Facing the impostor syndrome
The impostor syndrome is a real thing, a recognized factor that many creative people face, and not just creative people either. I battle with it myself. It’s that itty bitty voice in your head that tells you that you are not good enough, you lack real talent and that one day people will call you out for being a fraud.
It IS real and it can be debilitating. It can freeze you in your tracks and prevent you from achieving your goals. I deal with it too. The trick is to face it down. Work through the fear, and that is what it is — fear.
Fear that can stop you in your tracks. “Fear is the dream killer.” Every time you try something for the first time, there is inevitably those thoughts in your head. “What if I am no good,” “what if I am not up to the task,”, “what if I fail,” “what if no one likes me, my work?” The answer is that you’ll never know until you try.
Stepping past your boundaries
Anytime you are doing something new, it can be scary to put yourself out there. It can be terrifying to exhibit, but I forced myself to do it. Of course, the big problem there is dealing with the rejection too. But I persevered.
Eventually, I was accepted at a small group exhibit, it was scary but exciting and exhilarating. I even sold a piece of art. I entered more exhibits and was eventually offered a solo exhibit — now THAT was truly terrifying. I still exhibit occasionally, but now I see them very differently and no longer as scary.
Learn to deal with rejection
Even with writing for Photofocus, I was worried they would not like what I wrote, at what I had to say about anything and everything. Happily for me the voice in my head was wrong. But I was still so nervous the first few times I sent articles in for review. Competitions and magazines are the same. You need to learn to live with the rejections — it is not always a reflection of you or your art, simply that your stuff was not right for them at the time.
I once submitted for a small gallery and was rejected. My piece just was not the right fit for the theme, however, they contacted me later and stated they loved my work and offered me a solo show! I may submit images for a magazine, only to see it appear months later in a themed section or similar. You just never know.
But I can’t do that
People tell me all the time that I get the exposure, magazines, exhibits, workshops and guest teaching opportunities because of my talent, my personality even. But that is not entirely true.
While I may have talent, I also have the drive. Talk to anyone that you think has “made it” and I bet they have to push themselves every single day. It’s kind of funny how many of them consider themselves introverts too. I like to feel in control. I don’t like large crowds, but have spoken in front of them. All this seems counterintuitive for an introvert right?
But I love to teach and educate. I’ve studied hard, I know my stuff. I probably study harder, because I teach … I don’t want to look like a fool. Others can do it too, you just have to push past your own fear and procrastination.
You’re just not that important
Do you want to know a secret? I was once told that as an individual, “you’re just not that important.” On the surface that can be ego-crushing, right? The truth is in this fast past world, it’s true.
Sure, your immediate family and friends like and love you, but the rest of the world just doesn’t care. Once they have seen your image on social media, they move on.
And THAT can be a superpower if you use it right. So use your anonymity to quietly pursue your dreams, do the work you love and push yourself a little further every day.
It’s OK to say NO
If you have no interest in exhibiting, submitting for a magazine, entering competitions or even running workshops or doing public speaking, then it’s perfectly fine to just say NO! Likewise, if you are offered something that you really do not want to do, it seems dangerous, not quite legit or it does not interest you, it’s OK to say NO.
However, if you ARE interested in doing any of these things and are saying no, because you are scared, worried or feel unworthy, then STOP. Ask yourself what are you really worried about.
My secret power
A few years ago I was introduced to “Words of Intent.” Now, words can be powerful things. Every year I have a word of intent, brave, braver, strength, courage. I use it as my mantra, my motto for that year. Each year it changes.
Last year I started printing it on a small disc I wear like a bracelet. Every time my courage and determination wavers (and it still does) I can rub my fingers over that disc and repeat the word in my mind. It helps me overcome whatever that current hurdle is.
Our anxieties, our fear, that fight, flight or freeze response we have has kept us safe from many real dangers. It’s the imagined dangers we need to face down. Sometimes we need to push ourselves to get the things we want. Sometimes we need to quell that itty bitty voice in our heads and tell ourselves that we believe we can do it … that is my current superpower. Believe!
There is never a better now
There is never a better now, and while it may seem cliché, it is true. I would rather say at the end, “WOW what a ride,” than “I regret that I never took more risks.”
So what will your superpower be? Even writing this post, which is perhaps more open, honest and raw than I have written before. Was I nervous before I hit that PUBLISH button? Too right. But if you are reading this right now, it means I still did it.