Last week I wrote about wholeness. In fact, most of my recent writings have touched on authenticity in some way. Through meditation, self-reflection, creativity, connection with loved ones, and play, I'm much more in touch with my authentic self. I'm living my life more from the inside out. But, lest I think I have all my sh*t together, I was confronted with something new and scary this week: self portraits.
In my photography class, Susannah Conway encouraged us to use self portraiture as a means of going within, of connecting with our souls. For the first two days, my camera sat still. This was a hard one for me. Interestingly, I enjoy having my picture taken if I'm in a group or surrounded by loved ones (in fact, I routinely have people takes shots of me with my friends & family, as these are the pictures I want all over my house). But when it came to turning the camera on myself, I hesitated. As much work as I've done to love myself unconditionally, there was still a barrier. Am I worthy of a self portrait? What about all my physical flaws? Am I really, truly comfortable in my own skin?
At first I went with reflection self-portraits (in mirrors, windows, etc.). These are actually easy for me, as they feel creative rather than intimate. I'm still hiding some of myself. It was the arm's-length portraits that felt more intimate and in which I felt more vulnerable. But I did it. I've taken many "selfies" this week, many of which I won't share with others. It's really the process that matters to me. (Ah, isn't that the true nature of most things?) I started slowly, and then I dove in, taking arm's-length shots of different expressions and in different light. Some of the photos were difficult for me to view--they struck the I'm-not-good-enough cord. Yet I allowed myself to really look at them before deleting. And other photos actually seemed to express my inner self.
So the week began with fear, yet that morphed into curiosity, creativity, and acceptance. From Susannah to the class: "My dearest wish for you this week is to create an image of yourself that you like. It doesn't have to be The Best Self Portrait Ever--just one that you can look at and quietly say: I like this one." This quotation is about self portraiture, but it also applies to life. What if each week we looked inside ourselves (at the happy, sad, playful, embarrassing, real stuff), and accepted something new: I really like ____ about me. What a wonderful wish for us all.