Pull out a camera around a group of 6 year olds, and they’ll fight to get in the picture frame. Facebook is full of one princess after another, showing off her sparkly new shoes or her Halloween costume or her latest dance move.
“Look at me!”, they all say. And their joy and pride is honest.
Their sheer joy draws us in. We do look, drinking in their pride and sharing it with them. Happily. Easily.
Far from judging them, we join them. It never even occurs to us to see them as bragging or selfish.
Because we get it. They’re just happy, and proud – as they should be. And genuine pride (that is, self joy and self respect) is catching.
We want them to feel this way.
And we want them to share it with us.
Yet somewhere along the way, that changes.
Somewhere around 5th or 6th grade, girls begin to doubt themselves, their abilities, their looks, their right to be seen in the world.
In slow and subtle ways, the insidious poison of self doubt creeps in. The critics in our head get louder, and we step back from a place we once held at our own center stage.
In ways large and small, we begin hiding behind the curtains. We shrink.
“Oh don’t look at me; I’m nothing. Really.”
And it’s not just about our pictures, either.
I see women shrinking from center stage all the time.
We pass on an opportunity to chair a committee at church, or lead a project at work.
We don’t even apply for the job we really want, because after all, who are we to want more? And why would they even look at us?
We stop trusting in our own abilities, and downplay our accomplishments.
We no longer dream of doing what makes us happy, and we settle for less and less of what we (really) want.
Hiding, and apologizing for who we are, we slowly disappear from our own life.
We no longer choose to be seen.
Now, the pictures are all of our kids. Or our dogs. Or the flowers in our yard.
We stop showing up.
I thought about all of this as I left home at 5 a.m. on a recent Monday morning to make the 4 hour drive to Atlanta for an appointment.
I was there because I, too, have struggled with this – and I was determined to change that.
So I made a major commitment to allowing myself to be “seen” in a way I’d never before been able to do. I agreed to work with a talented and special photographer for an entire day, a completely personalized photo shoot.
I want to say that Rupa Kapoor is a magician, but I really think she’s a kind of “photo-therapist”.
So many women are out of sorts with their own bodies, ill at ease in their own skin. So many women have lost all memory of that happy little girl they once were, the one who’d dance and twirl for the camera with ease.
I don’t mind being in a photo – but the picture I see is soooo not the one I have in my head.
Until now, that is.
Rupa changed all that.
And girlfriends, it helps to have the right photographer.
I met Rupa through my Gold Mastermind in the Uplevel Academy. This is a brilliant and brave group of entrepreneurs from all over the world who work closely together in mutual support and accountability for personal and business growth. It’s been a huge source of strength, and good-for-me challenges, for the past year.
Rupa’s skill, and her business, “Woman Redefined”, allows women to reveal their truest selves through a camera lens.
And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had much luck with that in the past. In fact, I usually leave photo sessions fighting tears. Feeling stupid. Frustrated. Even with very talented photographers.
Can you relate?
Let me ask you this.
Are you the one who takes all the family photos, yet you’re rarely in them yourself?
Are you the one who loves the way your friends look in all the pix, including selfies, yet you criticize your self?
Or are you the one who has a great little business going, but no one knows you’re the one behind it, because your picture is NO where on your website or your Facebook page or in your materials?
Yeah. I know.
It’s time to change that.
You serve no one by blowing off your brilliance.
You help no one by hiding behind the camera.
You do no good by pretending to be anything less than the beautiful, talented, brilliant woman you (really, truly, genuinely) are.
And yes, I mean you.
Go get your picture taken. Get several.
Make the investment – of time and money – with a photographer you love, one who makes you feel good about who you are.
Tell her what you want. Play. Change clothes. Let someone help you with your hair and make up. Take a friend who will make you laugh.
But show up. Let your Self be seen.
If you need a little help showing up in the world, let’s talk. I guarantee you I can help. :)
Because once you make the decision to stop hiding, amazing things will happen.
Besides, we get it.
You’re just happy, and proud – as you should be. And genuine pride (that is, self joy and self respect) is catching.
We want you to feel this way.
And we want you to share it with us. :)
Photo Credit: Nana B Agyei on Flickr, and Rupa Kapoor