Today, I embark on my last scheduled shoot of the year. Now, normally I don't think much about this sort of stuff. But, you see, this year has been a little different for me.
This year, I took chances. I tried new things. I showed up when I didn't want to and exploded through boundaries I didn't know I even had. In this, a gentle but noticable transformation has taken place. Each small thing that has pushed me out of my comfort zone helped me to grow more. Each task helped me achieve something I didn't know was even possible. Each milestone and marker in the grass meant I had overcome something a little bigger and better than the last time.
Even when the chances I took were small and unassuming, the change was still happening inside. Little by little as I pushed through hurdles and boundaries I set for myself, an unfolding started to happen. I was unbecoming. This process has been a gentle teacher. This journey has been a peeling away of label after label, costume after costume, until I showed up stripped down to my real identity. I was unbecoming someone I thought I was. I was becoming the real me.
The unbecoming of the old me into the new me has been the best part of this journey. I am not saying it was easy. The good stuff never is. But each time I did something I never thought was possible for myself, labels started to fall away from me like water off a ducks back...rolling delicately one by one onto the ground below me and splashing into a puddle at my feet until I was ready to fly away from them all.
So each shoot became a milestone - a virtual marker in my journey back to me. Each phone call I received became an affirmation that I was, in fact, on the right path. Each compliment I heard made me sink into the new labels I was creating for myself – capable, strong, brave, worthy, talented.
Photography is a hard business to be in. It's competitive and cut throat. It's not for the faint of heart. Someone is always out there with better work, a bigger portfolio, top clients and fancier shoes. But honestly, it doesn't matter. None of it matters. Because ultimately, the competition you are holding yourself up against is you. The person you need to show up for each day and do better for is you. Competing with other photographers isn't worth it. Compete with yourself and your vision.
So today, as I look back at this past year and realize I have ultimately accomplished everything I set out to do, I will let this job be a swan song that will lead me into next year and propel me even further to my goals and farther from that person I never really was to begin with.