It’s okay, I am too. I figured it out 2 or 3 years ago, when I my actions stopped lining up with my words, my thoughts stopped lining up with my emotions, and my creations stopped being my own. How can I blame myself when the entire world around me is constantly self-crafting the most beautiful image of itself possible for others? How can I be angry about not living up to who I want to be, when the rest of the world is lying, too? I’m the coolest person I know on social media. So are you. In fact, you’re probably cooler than I am.
I love the internet for many reasons. It helped me build my career and have access to a vast network of friends and creators worldwide. It helped me connect with the incredibly talented, thoughtful woman I am marrying in a few days. I am able to travel, create, connect, communicate, build, experience - because of the internet. It opened the doors for what the world around me could be… and unfortunately, it opened the doors for me to be deceived.
Over time, I began to find my excitement for what I could be swapped for an excitement of being what others already were. I wanted to be *just like* all of the photographers, vloggers, content creators, writers, artists that I saw online. And I tried. I tried so hard to do that. And the result was a confused, inconsistent person whose value was placed not in what I believed in, but what a hundred thousand others believed in.
In part, this is the way we learn and grow - we emulate and imitate before we ever create something that is, to any degree, original - but the crutch of the internet allows anyone to stick around for longer than even they want to.
See, we live in a society that THRIVES on telling you you’re not good enough. Everything you see now is meant to “change your life, transform your creativity, restore your marriage. Buy this 100-page e-course video-manual that will transmogrify your car in to a space ship so you can fly off to a distant planet and hang out with martians! Only $9.99 today! TODAY ONLY!!!” The problem is not that these products and services aren’t helpful - in fact, I think they’re incredibly important and I’ve even made one myself for people to grow in their skill set in Photoshop (and I would LOVE to hang out with martians…) Unfortunately, the culture that has sprung up around this is too vulnerable to not be taken advantage of.
Any progress in any area of your life is a two-part process - a paradigm shift, and the confidence to live in to it. Confidence is EVERYTHING. I’ve secured more clients for our media business in the last year with 90% confidence and 10% skill. If you’re learning something, anything at all right now - on your own, in school, whatever - you MUST have the confidence to also go after it, live in to it, build it, practice it.
STOP BEING AFRAID OF BRINGING YOUR BEAUTY IN TO THE WORLD.
The moment we stop doing that, everything that comes out of us is no more than sewage. If you want to do ANYTHING good for the world around you, you HAVE to figure out what your vision is for the world… and you HAVE to share it. Today, more than ever, it’s so easy to lie about who we are to ourselves and the people around us - but it’s also just as easy to become that person for real. It’s easier than EVER to do EXACTLY what you want to do with your life, if you want to do it enough, and if you’re confident enough to take it, and grow it, and build it, and do the work necessary to make it happen.
You have so much beauty in you. Do not quench it.
I had a dream 2 summers ago, where I was standing alone in the the dark basement of my home. There I stood, in the center of the frame, when a small hole began to appear in my back. It opened further and further to reveal a beautiful, blue butterfly clawing it’s way out of my interior. It was followed, then, by thousands and thousands more butterflies, of all different colors and shapes and sizes and speeds and temperaments. They filled the room around me and swirled about my body before disappearing.
I woke up from that dream immediately and wrote it down, knowing exactly what it meant. If I were to do anything to release the beauty I held within myself, I know that it would be painful, but entirely worth it. Lately, I’ve felt like the header image for this blog post - like the butterflies are instead coming out of the sewer that is my lack of confidence to go out and KNOW that I can do more.
If you’ve ever been told in you’re life that who you are right now is not enough, go tell that person that they are wrong.
Right now, you’re enough. Take action.
You CAN be confident.
You CAN follow your dreams.
You CAN take risks.
You CAN release that beauty within you.
Stop being a liar. That's not who you are. That's not who I am.
Stop following what everyone *else* is doing. If you do that, you’ll never share your vision with the world - and the world, undeniably - and now, more than ever, needs it.
Stop being afraid to live a beautiful life. Stop being afraid of letting out the butterflies, even if your life feels like a sewer. The only thing that is stopping you is the confidence to go out and get it.
That confidence starts now, the second you stop reading this blog. Leave now, and go build something beautiful. It is true that you can absolutely do the exact thing you’re thinking of right at this very second.
A PRO-PHOTOGRAPHER'S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE:
I just launched my 2017 comprehensive Holiday Gift Guide: ALL of the gear I use as a professional photographer to create every image you see on this blog. Find it by clicking the banner below:
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.