I run from fear. I don't face it. I'm terrified of fear.
I think people assume that because I've lived in Africa, love traveling to new places, and take quite a few risks in life that I must be "good" at facing fear. Yeah...no. I just don't fear that stuff. I don't fear unusual or "different." I actually love it.
It's familiar to me.
Do you know what I don't love? Do know what I fear? Calling strangers on the phone. Disappointing people. Failure. The "what-if" scenarios that send me scrambling to protect my children from life.
Sometime last year I decided it's time to stop running. It's time to grow up and face these things--not all at once, maybe, but slowly. I want to write more about my journey in this, but this post is dedicated to a very specific fear I've chosen to confront:
The fear of making self portraits.
While fear is often irrational, it is usually triggered either by something unfamiliar or by an unknown outcome. For me, making self portraits involves both: It is unfamiliar to me, and the outcome is completely up for grabs! I'm not behind the camera seeing what's happening, so I have significantly less control. Plus it requires vulnerability, which significantly raises my chances of disappointing people (which, remember, is another one of my fears).
So when a group of photographers wanted to form a collaborative blog to explore self portraiture as a means of expressing our personal stories, my chest tightened with fear.
And I knew I had to say yes.
I had no trouble coming up with what I wanted to say through my photograph. It's a subject I think and feel more strongly and more often than I would like to admit:
That I am starved for space and solitude.
There are moments during my role as mother that I feel overwhelmed by a feeling I can only describe as claustrophobia. I want to shove away the clinging hands and run from the cacophony of shrieks and pleas and cries and questions. I want to return to the days when I could flee to any number of havens when the world became too overwhelming: my room, an open field, the woods... I want to curl up in a ball and cry or pray or sing a song.
These are the feelings that propelled me to make this first self portrait. The actual making of this piece was deeply therapeutic, and I felt that for the first time I was able to express what words--even the words above--have never been able to. That feeling of expression is enough to compel me to continue probing this unknown and confronting this fear of self portraiture.
Please visit The Story of Me Project.
This project is bigger than my story alone. Our hope as a group is that you would find solace in the thoughts and emotions, images and words we share.
We have a feeling we are not alone.