What Am I So Scared Of?

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In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d talk today about REAL fear—not the silly, “fun” fear that comes from watching creepy black and white films (like Wait Until Dark) or dressing up in gory costumes–but REAL fear: the kind that keeps you up at night wondering what you’re doing with your life (or what you’re not doing).

Throughout my adult life, I would venture to say that in most situations, I come off as relatively confident–and honestly, in many situations, I DO feel confident enough in myself and my abilities to come off as such.

However, I’ve got to confess something to you—there’s something I’m scared to DEATH of:

Going after my dream to become a “real” photographer.

I don’t know when my love of photography first started. I do know this—I’ve been a prolific picture-taker since about 7th grade. As for the real “artsy” side of photography, I think the moment when I really “got” the photo bug when Matt and I went on our first photo walk together, and it was like something clicked in my head: I’d always seen a lot of beauty in the world that I wanted to capture, but I really never knew how to frame it in the best way.

Looking back at those first photos (all the decent ones being Matt’s), I know I’ve come a long way, and it’s been such fun having a husband who knows more about the subject than I do.

But with photography (as with most things in life), it’s almost like the more you know, the more you realize you DON’T know, and the harder it is to put yourself out there.

Does that make sense?

I was reading in my Oprah magazine the other day, and I came across this little quiz that basically asks you if you’re doing something for the right reasons or not (or if you’re just doing it to please someone else or to look good for other people). Here are some of the statements to think about (courtesy of Martha Beck):

*I want to experience the activities involved in this goal, whether or not I achieve the milestones associated with it.

*I’d want to have this experience even if no one else would ever know I had.

*I feel no inferiority, jealousy, or competitiveness around people who have done this thing, and no superiority toward people who haven’t.

*I’d be thrilled to do this even if everyone I know thought it was weird or stupid.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I could answer all of those with a pure heart in the most positive way possible. The truth is, I DO feel inferior a lot of the time with my photography skills, but only because I so desperately want to get better and truly capture with the camera what I can capture with my eyes.

But I DO get such a thrill out of photography, largely because it forces me daily to look at everything in a different way than I did even the day before—it makes me reconsider my angles, search for a different light to shed on a particular subject, and try to find the beauty in the most mundane.

Basically, it’s become a metaphor for how I’m trying to live my life in general.

My dream is to one day turn this little hobby into something more. The wheels in my head have been turning even more since I did a little photo session for my friend Kayla’s family last weekend (my first paid gig!).

But almost all I could think about after I got the pictures back?

How they still didn’t match what was in my head, and how I wondered if I would ever feel “good enough” to really sell my skill set in photography.

What’s something you’ve done that’s terrified you? How did you get past the fear?

Or, what’s something that terrifies you now?

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