I had one day left. One day to put together something that had to blow others away by the mere glance of it. I could do a series of self portraits which was the intention the night before where I ended up procrastinating; drinking a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc prior to retiring at home was not the best idea with work at 8 AM the following morning. Self-portraiture was the initial plan due to a last minute cancellation for my previous vision. I shot that idea to the ground due to the fact that I really don’t enjoy photos taken of myself. More times than not, I appear intoxicated even when stone cold sober.
There was more time than I knew what to do with before the photos were due, really. It was completely unnecessary and irresponsible to wait until the last minute. But I was scared. Procrastination tends to force out something that is above average work. I may have subconsciously relied on this fact. I made it through high school using the same technique. It is something I absolutely do not recommend doing, but it worked for reasons I cannot explain. Not that I excelled in school, but that is beside the point. I had a surplus of of time that I know I could’ve planned out an idea much more elaborate for this event that I was asked to be a part of. That could’ve generated a reaction worthy enough for “oohs” and “ahhs” to be produced from the imagined group gathered around my photos.
The day that the photos were due, I had hoped to be released early from the confines of a place that society finds it acceptable for me to work. Not that I don’t like my current position in my job right now (please allow me to point out the hidden sarcasm in that statement.) I did not get to take off as early as I would have hoped. I was stuck in the confines of what had become known as my metaphorical hell. While making it through the monotonous day, I was speaking with my friend who is also a co-worker. This is the same friend that I had overindulged in wine with the previous evening.
I confided in my friend explaining my fear of putting myself out there. Of how terrifying it was to step out of a shell that I had habitually sealed myself inside of the majority of my existence. Yet there she was in front of me, trusting that I could take something away from her God-given beauty and mold it into something magical. That amount of trust would also fall into the same category of “terrifying” to me. I’m not good with praise or the inadvertent pomposity of compliments. I doom myself to failure before I have the unintended power to do so. I like it in my nice warm safe shell.
The clock was ticking around 8 PM that evening when my arrival was made at my new models residence. I struggled for two hours. Two hours to find something I was satisfied with being printed out in 8×10’s for others to view in real time. I was getting frustrated because it was taking longer than I prefer to try a new concept. I went in without a plan and it was taking longer than the 45 minutes I typically established as a goal to complete one of my personal creative shoots. I know good things take time, but I am competitive by nature. If I could take up less of someone’s time that made themselves available to me on a time for print type of arrangement, I felt less guilty using them for my mediocre work to practice on. I realize I’m harsh on myself, but welcome to my twisted mind.
I quickly rushed home after my last minute shoot to edit and attempt to brew up a recipe for greatness because I wanted new work to be featured. I wanted to elevate myself from the last series of photos I had dedicated myself to simply for the joy of doing it. I had lost a little of my excitement towards new projects. I was inspired. For the first time in a long time I felt what it was like to want to create. Not that I haven’t known the feeling before. I simply forgotten how it felt to feel good about something or an idea that I want to create. I needed to get inspired again. I hit send on the email I was provided for the event in which my photos would be showcased. My anxiety was at an all time high. I couldn’t hide behind my phone screen on social media for this.
The day came where the event would be taking place later in the evening. I had planned to meet up with the first person that had faith in me, the sweet young woman who allowed me to drive us up to the wilderness to take photos of her when I had no idea what I was doing. We were complete strangers, yet there she was taking a chance on me. We remained friends since that first interaction and we were due for a reunion to catch up on recent life events. Over the course of our champagne-filled brunch, we talked about love, life, and what it means to struggle with being a creative individual. She, like myself has been struggling with it recently. It is not something everyone understands.
My family, God bless them, would never understand the joy that I feel when I write a story on the pages of my journal. Or how depicting a girl sitting on flowers for my photography showcase would be considered artistic by some. Without realizing where the urge to take such a photo came from, I was influenced by two shows I binged on recently that had underlying plot lines showing how hard it is to be a woman in this present day world we live in. Topics of controversy were finally being conversed about rather than shunned. I then realized how strongly I felt about the topic of feminism. How we hold so much power in taking control of our bodies. Especially when we choose to show them in a powerful way. I wanted to show that we are strong by showing what we believe to be beautiful and yet delicate, like a flower.
These friends of mine were women who recognized this. And this first model friend I made understood that it isn’t just about doing something that others find pleasing to the eye or deemed as appropriate. In this case, I wanted to make others borderline uncomfortable. I was anxiety ridden for others to see how naked I was despite the fact that it wasn’t even my naked body that would be shown on the wall. Here was this sweet young woman at brunch that morning, Bellini in hand with her big, innocent doe eyes telling me that I could do it. I believed her.
The time had come for me to make my presence known. Despite the fact that I am a self-proclaimed introvert, I was forced to mingle with others that shared a love for creating things. Photography, music, original pieces of clothing, the bounds were non-existent. Although I typically imagine myself drowning in these types of scenarios, I stayed afloat. It felt good to have my friends nearby acting as floatation devices in case of emergency. I eventually managed to swim. I conversed like a seemingly normal human being with individuals singing my praises.
I was taken aback at the shock factor my photos seemed to possess to those who enjoyed what I did. I was seriously confused. They actually liked what I did? What I had uncovered that was personal to me? Don’t get me wrong. I know plenty of people wouldn’t be fans of my work if they saw it. I’m sure my parents wouldn’t be either, and that is fine. For me, having learned that people wanted to come up to me to say that they love what I did? I couldn’t imagine a better feeling than that.
Around the time that this event transpired, I had finished watching season two of Master of None. My viewing partner and I sat speechless at the edge of our seats when the last moment of the final episode danced along my television screen. How could it end like that? Immediately after we gathered our composure, my viewing companion looked up the possibility of a season three in our near future. The shows’ creator, Aziz Ansari, was quoted in an article saying how uninspired he was. He mentioned that we could expect another season in a year or two. He also said how it could all be revisited 60 years from now (praying that this isn’t the case). He needed time. Time to live life, maybe have kids and take some of those experiences to create from. I now know what he meant by being uninspired. I had been feeling this way for a long time.
Rather than going out and trying to make my ideas happen, I was staying in curled up with a glass of wine. It wasn’t doing me any favors to help my creative self by repressing whatever urges I had to write or take photos. I wasn’t that good at it anyway, I told myself. Regardless of how happy it made me in the moment. We are all worth whatever brings us happiness in life. Yes, I’m being a cliché right now, but it is all truth that should be accepted more often. I only hope that everyone can find what that is. The feeling is entirely worth it.
I challenge you, whatever it may be that utterly terrifies you, to do it. Being creative is absolutely the scariest thing I have ever attempted to do. We all struggle to do it. That’s why Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an entire book dedicated to encouraging you to aspire to live life with your creativity in the forefront. To awaken the happiness in your creative self and help you live it in whatever way, shape or form your heart desires. I’m making a promise to myself to continue doing what it is that I love. Something could come of it, or not. If it makes happy, it is worth it in the end. Can you promise yourself to strive to be happy too?