Radical Self-Acceptance

The other day, I had a conversation with a friend (who's a professional photographerabout taking self-portraits, and how we can look at a photo that we've taken of ourselves and critique it to the point that we end up dragging it to the trash bin because we're such harsh self-critics. One thing I really love about photography is the art self-portraiture. I am still trying to brush up on my self-portrait skills, but mainly working towards getting past the point of such harsh criticism of self. Full transparency, ever since my attack five years ago, I haven't seen myself as I once did. When I look in the mirror, I see someone else. Yes, it's still me, but I no longer see what others see. I see the physical and emotional scars. The imperfections. The parts of my face that will never be as they once were. Because of this, it's hard for me to take a photo of myself and feel 100% confident about it. I truly appreciate people seeing me in ways that I don't see myself, and my friend had to remind me of that, because she sometimes struggle with the same thing. I think most people do, but not everyone is honest enough to admit it out loud.

"I do respect that there are differences in your face since your incident; however, I think this lines up with that thing that I've been talking about this year, which is like...getting to a place of radical self-acceptance. Like, the more you see yourself, the easier it is TO see yourself, and I think there's something to be said about that. So, take your self-portraits, and post them ALL THE TIME, and in a way, you will desensitize yourself into looking for the flaws, because the way that people see you is not the way that YOU see you."

I never realize how much I truly love taking photos until it's time to do the work, and recognizing how frustrated I sometimes get when I can't nail the desired shot. Feeling discouraged when it requires 60 shots in order to find one GOOD photo out of the bunch. Whenever I post a photo of myself online, it's because it's the only one that I found myself being the least critical of. But I need to remember that it's not just me who experiences this - ALL photographers, whether professional or people like me, who simply enjoy it as a hobby and have a genuine passion for it, go through this. And also, I don't like putting out anything mediocre. Sure, this whole social media thing is just fun for me, meaning, I don't get paid to post content, but I need to be madly in love with everything I put out there because it is still a representation of me. More importantly, I need to get over my physical hangups. I have to learn to truly love the 2020 me; this new version of me, the version that's gained a bit of quarantine weight, the version whose face is no longer symmetrical. ALL of me.

More photography talk from Jahshua, who just kicked off a 365 self-portrait project on September 1st:

"With this project specifically, I am learning to embrace being truly vulnerable in front of the camera. That's not to say I don't take multiple shots, but this is genuinely about me interrogating and exploring who I see and understand myself as. I think that is the thing I am most excited about. Yes, there is some planning of, and great intention behind what I want to get out of out sitting in front of my camera, but I truly just go with the flow. There is only one shot that I went in knowing I wanted. The rest just came as I kept shooting, and that's how it usually goes. If I can encourage you to do anything, experimentation is IT." 

One thing I need to mention (that makes me feel damn good) is when professional photographers compliment my work. I need to hold these moments tightly and remember who the fuck I am and what I have to offer, and stop second-guessing myself as much as I do. To hear from people that I admire creatively that I have a great eye and that they study MY work, is beyond flattering. I must never forget that.  

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