Last week I attended my first Assembly Gathering with the wonderful Mel Wiggins. I had read and heard about Mel’s work and really liked the ethos of everything she does and The Assembly.
When I seen the description of ‘Courage and Clarity’ I felt like I had to attend her latest Gathering. I’ve previously talked about how I’ve had so many ideas since leaving my last job, and how overwhelmed I have been so I was praying I would find some answers. To be honest, I got a lot more than I bargained for, and I’ve decided to share it with you.
I’m not going to go over what Mel talked about because I seriously recommend you go and read her latest blog and the series that is going to follow, linked here. What she talks about in her blog, and what we were lucky enough to discuss in person, changes your mindset. It helps you look at your fears completely differently.
I’ll be honest though, for the first part of the conversation I thought I was pretty ahead of the game. I recognise that I’ve shown a lot of courage over the last few months and to be honest, I didn’t feel like I feared an awful lot. I’ve put myself out there in terms of my photography, my business, myself. I’ve went to blogger events, fashion events. I’ve shot weddings, booked clients. I even held my own workshop. I put my face on my social media nearly every day. I’ve taken huge jumps.
But as I sat next to a photographer whose work I really admire, I confessed that had I known who she was when she walked in (instagram meaning that I don’t know what many photographers look like), I wouldn’t have had the courage to talk to her. But because I didn’t know she was a photographer who has been in the business for years, and whose work I’ve followed since day one, we had chatted like we’d known each other forever.
When I broke that down, and a few other things that I’d been feeling about the photography business and motherhood, I realised that I am not as confident as I thought I was, especially in my work. I have a fear of judgement and criticism. Like I’m waiting to be ‘found out’ by the real professionals and other mothers. The mother part I got, because I’ve never been the most maternal and with all the struggles I’ve had, I’ve never felt like a great mum. But the business part I was shocked at. I thought I was confident in my business, but actually I doubt myself without even realising it.
Luckily, I was surrounded by the most amazing women who helped me realise that this fear is unfounded. My self criticism is not based on any evidence. I have come a long way in a very short space of time, but those old habits of fear are still there.
Figuring that out was like someone switching on a light in my head because suddenly lots of other things made sense, including my inability to slow down.
I realised that if I slow down or concentrated on one particular thing for too long, it gives me time to feel things that I try to avoid, including fear. It had taken me to go to The Assembly, and sit for over an hour before my mind slowed down enough to realise this basic emotion.
How often do we all do that? We go so fast through life we that we don’t allow ourselves a moment to just be. We’re rushing from one life event, project, job, task or stage to another without actually being present enough to realise how these things actually make us feel.
Even as I write this post I’m realising more and more. I’m realising that it’s probably so hard for me to recognise my fear because it’s my natural state. I’m always fearful (I think most of us are), I’ve just become so used to it that I can ignore it more and I’ve learned tools to deal with it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I suppose it’s a bit of both.
It’s good in that I don’t let my fear stop me from doing a lot of things (anymore), but it’s bad because I hadn’t been able to recognise when it was still stopping me.
TA DA the revelation. I am scared of nearly every single thing I do, but I do it anyway. And that’s amazing, but now that I know that, I can do even more.
When I realised how scared I am of certain things and said it out loud, it was an overwhelming sense of relief. I cried.! A lot!
The next day I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, which was made worse by a horrendous start to Tyler’s school year. But do you know what I did? I launched my next workshop (something I was scared of). I met his teacher (which I’d been dreading). I gave myself a break (which I normally feel guilty for). I faced my fears, I felt them and I did it all anyway.
The only person holding any of us back is ourselves. You are the only one who can ever truly know you, but that takes time, work and honest conversations with yourself. It’s hard. It’s a journey. It’s ever changing. But getting to know you is the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. Lx