December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)
It’s not easy to find pictures of me. Especially ones that I think reflect who I am. Often our personal photos are mostly about centered around Brandon. Our family. Not necessarily showcasing one individual - unless it’s Brandon.
However, I’ve had the chance to do some things this year that were all about me and my personal interests/goals. As part of one particular project, I and several of my friends had the irresistable opportunity to be photographed by an amazingly talented photographer, Kym Shumsky, who is in the midst of her Le Mein project - photographing 100 strangers. What an undertaking, especially when you consider that in a 10 minute time span, she connects with you. For me, it happened in about 10 seconds.
I sat down and Kym said, “Who are five people you want to meet in heaven?”
I immediately began to tear up, because my first thought was my mother. It took me a few minutes to be able to verbalize that, and all the while she was snapping my picture. It was unnerving and I felt exposed. Raw. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable. All the while she was telling me how beautiful the pictures would be.
When I first saw my pictures, I felt very nervous and insecure about them going on the Le Mien site. They were hard for me to look at and love. Until I realized that I was looking at myself - my real self - for the first time. I wasn’t wearing a mask or pretending for a camera. I was me in the most complete sense.
The picture that was hardest for me to love is this one - the one in which I imagine myself explaining about the loss of my mother to this complete stranger - who somehow was no longer a stranger - within minutes of talking with her for the first time. I can see me straining to breath normally and stop the tears from falling.
This year I was challenged repeatedly to step out of my comfort zone, try new things or stretch myself beyond what I’ve tried to do before.
Throughout the process I’ve grown as a person; hopefully in mostly positive ways. The biggest challenge for me has been to open up to new possibilities and new relationships. To tear down walls I’ve had up for years.
Allowing myself to open up makes me as vulnerable as I felt in the moment this picture was taken, but I know it’s worth it because the reward of being a friend to someone is so fulfilling.