“All I wanted to do was try to live the life that was inside me, trying to get out. Why was that so hard?” -herman.hesse
The lowest grade I got in high school was in photography class my freshman year (the second lowest was in drama class). This was a little bit crushing. After starting out so excited about the class and about the photos I was taking, I ended the semester feeling as though my vision and my creativity weren’t good enough. And if they weren’t good, they couldn’t be important. This experience was reminiscent of the three years in middle school I spent being the twenty-third flute, or the time in fifth grade I auditioned for a solo in a musical and after learning what a note was and that I couldn’t carry one, ended up buried in the chorus.
There was a time that I believed I could be a writer, and a photographer, and an actress, and a musician, and anything else I could dream up. I was constantly assured I could be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or a scientist, but eventually, my experiences with photography and other creative pursuits made me feel as though my possibilities were limited to being smart and academic and professional. I know there are worse things to be limited to, but it often made me feel a little two dimensional. I didn’t feel as though “smart” relayed anything about who I actually was. I wanted to be fun. interesting. curious. eager. passionate. bold. Because I wasn’t successful at these creative pursuits, I felt as though I wasn’t–and couldn’t be–creative. This made me feel as though all of the thoughts and ideas and whimsies whirring in my head didn’t matter unless they could be transcribed as the thesis of research paper or circled as the answer to a math problem.
I remember the anticipation and excitement I felt for the first day of band class or photography class and I remember the crushed feeling and the exact moment I lost that excitement. I started to learn that just because I was excited about something didn’t mean that I would be any good at it.
I am trying to re-learn that just because I’m not any good at something doesn’t mean that I can’t be excited about it.
I am trying to be bold enough to be bad at things. I am trying to write words even if no one will ever read them; I am trying to take photos of the things that catch my eye; I am trying to sing along to the songs that make me tap my toes.
I bought a new camera a few weeks ago and I have been working on getting lost in it and in the moment that it puts me in. I am working on forgetting the fact that my lowest grade in high school was in photography. I am trying to look at the view or moment I am capturing rather than think about the people watching me capture it. I’m glancing at my watch a little less and I am embracing the idea that if I follow an unexpectedly twisted path to catch a cool shot or a new angle, I’ll still get to my destination eventually. Or, maybe I’ll just find a new destination instead.
I am becoming bolder about what is and isn’t allowed to define me. I have always been creative but I was denied this side of myself too often, either by the structures around me or by my own doing. I have so often forsaken my whimsical and creative pieces in favor of the academic, the hardworking, the professional, the responsible, or the mature. I am capturing more moments in words and in photos and testing out new views and perspectives. I may have been a member of the chorus, and the twenty-third flute, and a B- photography student, but I am trying to remind myself to move boldly through all that I do and to not limit myself to only things that I know I can, or have, done.
I do not need permission from anyone but myself to be exactly who I want to be. So, I am being.