Failure is something I’ve spent most of my life being afraid of. The expectations I have for myself are set pretty high, so “failing” is always a legitimate worry. If I got a B on a test, I failed (unless it was math, then I was pretty damn proud of myself). If someone was mad at me, I failed. If I didn’t get 20+ likes on a picture I posted right away, I failed. If my parents were disappointed in something I did, I failed. The list goes on…
Earlier this year I experienced the biggest “failure” ever… I started the process of getting a divorce. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time because I was so embarrassed. I was ashamed because since I got married when I was young, I knew everyone was going to say “I told you so”. I visualized people judging me and making up scenarios as to what could have ended our relationship. But most of all, I judged myself for not being good enough to keep the relationship going. What could I have done differently and, why am I giving up? I never give up! Giving up is for failures. It took me several months of continuously beating myself up over this before I finally realized I was totally wrong. I didn’t fail when I chose to end my relationship, I simply went down a different path in life (one that, so far, has been pretty incredible).
This overwhelming fear of failure has always been especially present in my creative process. If I took a photo I wasn’t proud of I would work it to death and eventually just slap a texture over it and pretend that was my original vision. A lot of really important photographs in my career were created that way, actually. However, learning to get over my irrational fear of failure in my personal life has really helped me to overcome it in my photographic work as well.
This photo was shot to go along with a new series I started (see this post) where I do self portraits based off song lyrics that I can relate to at the time or just love. Nothing about it was turning out the way I wanted it to in post processing… I tried so many different things and I couldn’t get it where I was happy. I’m still not happy. This isn’t a photo I’d ever hang in a gallery or post with a sense of pride, but— did I fail in creating it? No. I learned what to do differently next time to get a better result. Maybe it wasn’t what I originally hoped for, but the beauty of life & digital photography is that it’s not hard to try again. I gave up editing this trying to fit it to a vision in my head that was simply not working, but by giving up doesn’t make me a failure. Instead, it shows that I’m passionate enough about my vision to make it look exactly like what’s in my head for everyone else to see— and I’m proud of that.