On Confidence

I did it. I did something I thought I wouldn’t do. In fact I shunned it and considered it not my thing. Loads of other people do it, and I didn’t understand why they did.

I chose one word for the year. No. I need to rephrase that. One word chose me this year. Every day last week I sat down and planned. My planning included not only looking forward to 2017, but also backward at the past year. And as I planned, a word surfaced over and over again. I couldn’t ignore it, so I broke down and let it become the word that drives my year. It feeds into what I want to do and be.

I never imagined I’d choose one word and never understood how so many people could commit an entire year to a one word theme. I mean, what if it no longer is your word half way through. Or what if things get shaken up through the year, because yes that happens. What if your plans change or are completely thrown out the window? I plan but always with the thought that these plans are written in pencil. I love adaptability and choosing one word didn’t seem adaptable.

Yet, as I diligently went through last year and wrote out goals for the coming year, I came across this word over and over. So I wrote it down as my word. There. I did it. That doesn’t mean it may change over the course of the year. And I do have other words I want to focus on, but I think this word will drive the other words.

Here it is. My word for 2017 is confidence.

I need to take you back to before this past summer. My photography was good, but I lacked confidence in it. I questioned my vision constantly, and at times had no vision or intent. Because I lacked vision and intent, I had no definitive style. I believe that created a spiral because I didn’t love my work and I didn’t see a cohesiveness to it that defined me. I loved few of my own photos. Because I didn’t love my photos, I didn’t have confidence in my work.

Then I hit a major rut. It was only a matter of time. What little confidence I did have was torn up by a mentor who truthfully and kindly said what I knew all along. But I didn’t see that or  understand it then. Instead, I sulked, pouted, and deflected the comments. And then, picking up the camera got hard. What she said stared me right in the face and I could see my issues better. It was hard accepting what she said. It was even harder for me to determine what to do with what she said. And I’m still working on it. But I learned a lot from that experience.

Now, I’ve found a better groove. One with vision and intent. Because I understand and use my vision, I have more confidence in my work. But it didn’t occur only in photography. And that’s the great thing about creativity – when one area of your creativity is affected, all areas of your life are. They feed each other. As a result, I gained confidence in my writing, my spiritual life, and my business.

While planning, I looked at all these areas, and found that I was more confident in all but a question remained; what was I going to do with this confidence. I took a deep look into each area of my life, and I found confidence driving my goals. For example, I made it a goal to reopen the product photography side of my business due to my increased confidence. I tried to quit product photography because I thought I hated it. But when I was introspective about it, I found I lacked confidence in my ability to do it.

Confidence can take you a long way in whatever it is you do. It can give you the desire and need to charge more. It can protect you from the desire to quit. You create better work because you won’t second guess your decisions. Confidence takes away the fear of pushing your creativity. With confidence, you want to share your work, and you accept critique with grace.

So with confidence, I plan on shooting and processing with more intention. I plan on sharing a lot more. Exposing my work more. Charging what I’m worth for my work. And I plan on experimenting more. I hope confidence drives me to be more present, authentic, and have grace in all I do.

Do you have a word for the year?