Apologies to my sports fans, but this is not a sports post.
I hate having my picture taken.
The reasons are few, but I equate to pulling teeth, nails scraping on a chalkboard and a new violinist all rolled into one.
I hate it.
Family and friends know this about me. Yet, they still try to sneak a photo of me with their phone’s whenever they can.
They usually fail.
Then, 2017 came around.
I started thinking.
What was I thinking? Well, the better question is what wasn’t I thinking.
I am a thinker. I am constantly thinking about something. Whether it’s about my family, my dogs, work, the future, the past, the present, faith, sports, the world, the brokenhearted, social media, journalism, creativity, race & the real definition of diversity, my city, ending slavery, the environment, crazy drivers, traveling, what do i want to be when i grow up, life, death…
As morbid as it sounds, yes, I ponder death. Death as in what kind of legacy will I leave, how will I be remembered. Invariably, this particular train of thought leads to thinking about a funeral. (See – I told you sounds morbid)
When I start thinking about a funeral, I start thinking about the photos that they always show of the loved one. And I say YIKES! There are no pictures of me.
This is what happens to thinkers. Our brains are going at 100 mph going from one tangent to the next at Speedy Gonzales speed. (Look him up, kids) It’s hard to turn off this brain of mine. But, before I get any further, let me back up a bit.
When I was a kid, I was a ham in front of the camera. I made cheesy smiles and loved having my picture taken. I don’t know why, but I did. Most kids do, right?
Somewhere along the way, however, I stopped being that kid with the cheesy grin. I became an insecure girl & woman who never felt she was…enough. I wasn’t pretty enough or even the skinniest. No way was I ever the best athlete. For sure, I wasn’t the smartest in my class. I also felt, at times, like I wasn’t Hispanic enough. There was always a feeling where I didn’t quite measure up.
Like so many girls and women, it was easy to find flaws in every photo I was in. It would be easy to blame culture, but culture is only part of it. Positive reinforcement and encouragement goes a long way to helping kids battle against what culture says is the norm.
The same things kids deal with today, I dealt with back in the eighties. The only difference today – and it’s a big one – is social media.
Social media is a reflection of society. It amplifies all the good and bad of society. It exposes the hypocrisy of both the media and public. Those who were only heard by hundreds could now be heard by millions.
As someone who works in social media, I see thousands of tweets each work day. I’ve seen sports media praise a person one day and mock them the next. I’ve seen sports media (male and female) mock athletes – even high school or college athletes – for the way they look.
This mindset isn’t limited to sports media. Media, marketers, business people, school employees, national and local governmental leaders are speaking their minds on various social media platforms. They view it as their right. Even today, it’s not uncommon for sports media to mock, berate and ridicule others for their beliefs – whether it’s about sports, race, culture and yes, politics.
Mocking looks. Mocking beliefs. It’s like high school all over again.
What you see above is a collection of my four high school photos with a more current one in the middle. I can identify all of the things wrong in each photo from hair, to smile, to teeth, to skin, to clothing. I can even tell you which people in sports media might mock these photos and…would get their loyal followings to do the same.
My 15 minutes of fame would be relentless.
Yet, here I am posting these photos for the world to see. Not only that, but I have been venturing in a little Selfie Project for the month of January. The project entails a photo of me every day for one month posted on Instagram.
As one who hates their picture being taken, the project proved challenging. There aren’t enough filters or photo apps in the world that could improve how I looked in them. But, I kept remembering why I was doing it – what kind of legacy will I leave, how will I be remembered…and…those photos.
The photos on Instagram reveal more about me, the person. They showcase my (sometimes) goofy personality, my sense of humor, my unique perspective, my outlook on life and my brutal attempt at talent. As a private person, this was a huge stretch outside of my comfort zone.
Thankfully, we’re at the end of January and my #SelfieProject. It’s time to go back to my comfort zone of rare photos of me. As I only shared the photos on Instagram and not Twitter, I’ve received nothing but positive feedback. For that, I am grateful.
I still deal with insecurities. As a journalist without a journalism degree, I still feel I don’t quite measure up at times. I’m not good at self-promoting through social media – a much needed requirement today. I’m more comfortable at promoting others than I am myself. I don’t want the focus on me.
I cannot imagine what today’s youth go through with phones and social media around every corner. My hope is that a project like this along with today’s blog post will let them know they are not alone. It’s okay to laugh at yourself. It’s okay to try things outside of your comfort zone. BUT…
It’s also okay to not share everything you think, say or do on social media. Not every photo of you needs to be on display for the world to see. It’s okay to be private. It’s okay to have insecurities. Just don’t let your insecurities control you.
Do good to yourself and others. When you want to criticize yourself, step back, take a deep breath and remember that we often judge ourselves more harshly than others “judge” us.
Respect yourself enough to know when to say yes and when to say no. Respect yourself enough to say “I can, I will and I am” who I desire to be, which is a strong, confident, compassionate person. You are enough.
Okay, okay, I’ll stop rambling.
Here’s to the end of my project, a return to sports writing and a better 2017.