For most of my life I have wanted to get to a place where I could say “I’ve made it.“ And, shine like a beacon of hope to all other people that have struggled in their lives. I have wanted to stand on some sort of pedestal to show people that “you can do it too.“ I have yearned to give advice from a place of authority and also to show people that didn’t believe in me from the beginning that I DID IT. There have been times in my life where I had felt like I had “made it” and then something else inevitably would come up and then I would struggle against that, working to “make it” again. I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what actually helps people. Did you know I was a therapist before I was a photographer? I have been in search of what actually inspires and helps people both because I want to help others and because I want to figure it out for myself.
What I have learned in all my years of working in the field of helping people, being someone who needed help and also being someone who inspires others is: we ALL struggle with SOMETHING…all the time. No one is immune no matter how famous they are, no matter how successful or how many likes they get. I have found that when I am struggling with something, the worst thing for me is to see someone who has “made it” in that area and appears flawless. It gives me an immediate feeling of failure. It feels discouraging…and I don’t think that is helpful for most of us. What I DO find helpful is hearing that those SAME people struggle with something too….even if it’s different from my struggle. It’s the honest humanity of others that I find inspiring. It is what connects us ALL. You can connect with people based on your success but that only goes so far. The things that truly connects us all are the facts that we all have been though something hard, have insecurities, have experienced heartache and are struggling with something RIGHT NOW.
The most inspiring part of this trip for me was meeting these incredibly successful people who were able to talk about their pain and struggles and have a real person-to-person conversation like anyone else. Photographing them was just like photographing any one of my clients because we are all humans struggling with something here on this planet together. And, most of us have the same struggles!
The problem is that most of us put as much energy into hiding our “imperfections” as we do in trying to “make it” all the time. Social media is a highlight reel of our lives but it is so hard to realize that when you are watching other people’s lives from the perspective of social media. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know I’m never shy to tell it how it is in my life but at the same time you are STILL seeing mostly my highlight reel. Please know that. And so, instead of talking about the many amazing things I was able to do on this trip, I want you all to know the reality behind it all. You’ve seen the highlight reel. Now for the reality. Not complaining, but the reality of it:
⁃ I shot an event the night before I had to fly out to San Diego. I got home at 8:30pm and needed to pack that gear and finish getting ready before going to bed at 10:30pm only to wake up at 3:30am to get to the airport on time…I didn’t get to say goodbye to the kids.
⁃ Instead of sleeping on the plane, I had to cull, edit and deliver the photos from the event the night before.
⁃ As I packed my bag for the trip I broke down in tears comparing myself to the people I would be surrounded with all weekend knowing I am overweight and don’t look good in my clothes. I knew I would have a constant visual reminder in my beautiful friends that I haven’t been putting my health or fitness first the whole trip. The guilt was crippling.
⁃ I ordered three new dresses in a panic three days before I left in a desperate attempt to fit in with my friends who are super healthy and stylish.
⁃ I wore flip flops for my “bucket list session” so that I could take them off while walking on the sand and stubbed/cut two of my toes so badly while location scouting minutes before the session that I thought I broke them. I used a tissue to absorb the blood while I shot the session and then didn’t take the time to seek out antiseptic and first aid until the afternoon of the NEXT day because I was “so busy” (insert eye roll at myself). The pain was so bad I was having trouble walking. But I kept walking on it the whole time.
⁃ Every time I called my family, the kids fought over the phone and then Finn would break down crying that he missed me and why did I have to go…
⁃ My skin doesn’t do well traveling and broke out like it hasn’t done in months and months for the whole trip and is still recovering.
⁃ It rained almost all day on Sunday…the day I had all but one set of headshots for the event speakers. So I had to do all of them in about 2 minutes each in the exact same spot
⁃ I didn’t get home until midnight on Monday and then the kids got up 5am because they were so excited to see me….only for me to need to take them to daycare for a half day (because I felt guilty sending them the whole day even though I had so much work to do)
⁃ I had over 2,000 photos to edit and deliver that next week home that I didn’t get a full night sleep until…well, I haven’t yet.
⁃ I definitely didn’t take the time to exercise or eat healthily for the last two weeks and so my weight is at an all-time high and my self-esteem is at an all-time low.
⁃ I’m STILL trying to catch up on emails and accounting on the back end.
So, next time you are watching someone’s amazing Instagram stories. Be excited for them but before you start the comparison game, also realize that it’s not the whole story. They are human just like you. They have a part of themselves that is struggling along just like you. If they claim that they don’t, then they’re in denial. We all just want to feel important, be useful and well-liked.
You are not alone in your struggles. If you are feeling brave enough, will you share with us what is something you struggle with that you leave out if your highlight reel?
XO – Megan