I’ve wanted writing to be more a part of my life for a long time – a very long time. It’s been one of those things that has drawn me for as far back as I can remember, but it’s also one of those things for which it feels nearly impossible to find time, let alone a good outlet.
I’ve struggled with the thought of making my photo blog my writing outlet, because it can feel a bit odd to place my own thoughts on life and mothering and everything else next to someone’s photos when they don’t really have anything to do with each other. Until I realized how completely and entirely false that last statement is – in fact, they have everything to do with each other.
In reality, the deepest parts of me are intimately connected with the photos I create. The voice in me that wants to write – if only to process the chaos that is this life stage sometimes – is the same one that is telling the stories of my clients. As a photographer, we often feel as though we should say that we tell our clients’ stories, but in reality we are telling our own, over and over, with them as tools we use to tell it (I must credit Brooke Schultz’s Heartful podcast for expounding on this in a mind blowing way!).
To help myself feel a little more latitude here, I’ve changed the name of this page from ‘blog’ to ‘journal.’ Perhaps that seems unimportant, but it actually means something different to me entirely. Instead of this being a space to simply share my photo work in a more complete way than on my portfolio pages, it’s actually a place to share my heart and my story.
And yet as soon as I put that into words – “share my heart and my story” – a part of me wants to hide this in a corner or at least cover it with disclaimers proclaiming that yes, I know my story isn’t really that important, and I know I’m not some incredible writer who you’re all dying to hear from, and that I know I’m not a particularly interesting person, and also I’m afraid you won’t see any of my story in my photography work at all. I mean – I’ve always been incredibly turned off by most of what takes up so much space in the blogging realm of the internet – mommy bloggers telling us the details of every day and every activity of their children, or people selling their way of life so you can be as happy as they are, reminders of every way we aren’t measuring up to a standard that’s been created permanently out of reach for all but a select few, or people who don’t seem to realize that yes, while each individual is immensely important, we are each literally one in billions on this planet. I am – we are – unique of course – and yet really not that unique at all when you look at me and my work and my story in the context of this world, let alone the history of the world.
And because I know all of that, and how little what I have to say actually matters, I’ve waited. Waited for the moment when there was more of a ‘reason’ to share, or something like that I suppose. Or at least waited for more time and a little more peace and quiet in my house so I can hear my own thoughts. But honestly, those things aren’t going to happen. And I’ve wasted time sitting quietly for fear of the unimportance of what I want to be doing, when that actually should have been the most freeing piece of knowledge I have – it doesn’t matter, so I can do it for its own sake without fear.
What’s more though, and so exciting, is this: somehow, while knowing that it really doesn’t matter, and that I’m a tiny little blip on nobody’s radar, there is this opposite and beautiful truth that it matters immensely. Because in sharing our own human experience, we can connect and encourage and uplift the other humans that surround us. It might not be world changing, but that connection can absolutely be life changing, and it ties us more firmly together as brothers and sisters, mothers navigating motherhood, creatives navigating art and business, humans living life in this same world.
If there’s something you’ve been holding back from for fear of its insignificance, turn that around into absolute freedom – and go for it. And now, as my two year old is in the process of a major meltdown and is hitting and throwing everything in sight, it’s my cue to go. I’m giving what I can – and sometimes that might mean I can’t find the perfect ending – but gosh does it feel good to at least begin.
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© Hannah Mann 2020