Minnow Park

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What is Your Struggle?

I finally launched my newsletter this week. It’s a project I've been wanting to do for at least two years and it finally happened. I’ve been trying to figure out what took so long to do it, and it led me to this one question:

What is the biggest struggle I have to being creative and expressing myself?

For me the answer is self doubt. Every time I would sit down to write for this blog, newsletter, or really any writing at all, a voice would shout, “Stop! What do you think you’re doing? Do you even have anything with sharing? If you do, you better make sure it’s perfect before you actually share it.” I listened to every word, and it left me cowering in the corner, too scared to say anything. I stayed like that for days, months, for years.

Then I turned 35 this year, which gave me some much-needed perspective, and Anne Lamott said something in “Bird by Bird,” that shook me out of my cowardice.

“Don’t be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done.

If something inside you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability.

That phrase, “write toward vulnerability” is what helped me understand why that voice was screaming, and why I listened to it. It’s because being vulnerable is scary. It opens you up to the possibility of being rejected, of being seen with nowhere to hide. So the instinct is to protect yourself, to be safe and comfortable. No wonder I doubted myself every step of the way.

But being vulnerable is something we face every day. In order to love someone, in order to connect with someone, we need to be vulnerable. It’s something I recognize, and take great care to honor, every time I take a portrait of someone. The person in front of me is being vulnerable and trusting me to when they let me take their photo.

If we can be heard and seen for who we are, if we can have someone be there next to us sharing our burdens, that’s how we can, as Lamott would say, “...decrease the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.” But that requires us to take a risk and open ourselves up to each other.

So for you, what is your biggest struggle to being creative and expressing yourself?

The answer to that question, and the fight to overcome it, is a big part of what I want these posts and my newsletter to be about. My promise to you is that I will show up and take that first step. I’ll share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been learning, and some photos, but mostly I’ll show up ready to be vulnerable and speak my truth as best as I can.