Taking a Pause from Self Doubt to Focus on Reality

Self doubt and reality – taking a pause from FOMO and self doubt to meditate on motivation and reality when comparing myself to others on social media.
Twin Lakes, Colorado

I was in my new job for 10 months, and I’m ashamed to admit that was when I began to decorate my office. A coworker came in and comment on a picture that I had hung on the wall. It is a dramatic black and white photo of a mountain valley in Sawatch Range Colorado.

“Wow, that’s nice. Did you take that?”

“I did,” I beamed.

“But you didn’t take that one,” he said as he pointed to a framed photograph of a dramatic sunset over the Grand Canyon.

“Yup!” I beamed even more!

As a former photojournalist and nature lover, I felt the need to prove to the world, or at least my coworkers, that I could take a poster-worthy photograph.

When I was in college majoring in photojournalism, everyone wanted to be a “Photo-J major.” And assignments for the school paper were hard to come by.

Self doubt and reality – taking a pause from FOMO and self doubt to meditate on motivation and reality when comparing myself to others on social media.
Grand Canyon National Park

Eventually, people realized photojournalism was going to be low pay and late nights, and there weren’t as many upperclassmen Photo-J majors as there were freshmen and sophomores.

But with the rise of Instagram and a visually stimulated world, it seems everyone has become a photographer, and I feel I’m back in college. Only I’m not fighting for school newspaper assignments to pad my portfolio. I’m simply competing with my self-doubt.

My identity was so long wrapped up in being an award-winning photographer, but during the past few years of my photojournalism job, I had become really burned out. And now that I am no longer a photojournalist, sometimes I feel like just another Instagramer.

I don’t get FOMO (fear of missing out). That is such a catch phrase when people talk about social media. But I do get a twinge of jealousy when other people share rad pictures. I feel like, “Wait! I’m a photographer! Why didn’t I get that shot?”

I took a trip last summer to Wyoming and Colorado. The main emphasis of the trip was to see and explore. I took some pictures. They were mostly snapshots, but I did work my craft a little.

However, I didn’t come home with a stuffed portfolio. Instead, I came home with an accomplishment of tackling the hardest hike of my life and bagging the highest mountain in the Rocky Mountains. I was high (no pun intended) on that feeling.

But then a photographer I know also went to Colorado not too long after I got back. He came back with amazing pictures. Some of his pictures were of the alpine glow on the mountains – clearly, he had gotten up for the sunrise. I did not get up for the sunrise photographs because I was too exhausted from my epic hiking.

I might not have come home with a portfolio of fine art prints to sell, but I definitely came home with accomplishments. So why did I let it get to me?

Partly, I was mad at myself for not getting up for the sunrise. (Actually I did get up before the sunrise, but I was hiking to get to the top of Mount Elbert.) But I also doubted my ability to keep up with the Instagramers of our time.

When I posed the question to my friends, they quickly came to my aid with insight like, “Your trip was more meaningful because you traveled for your love of mountains, not Instagram.” And I couldn’t deny they were right.

The only reason I got this sunrise was because I had to be off the summit by noon and I had 5 miles and 4,000 feet to get there

But here is where I differed on that statement. I also have a deep love for taking pictures. And I don’t just “do it for the ’gram.” I am running out of space on my phone because I have a million pictures. And I can’t delete them because I go back and look at them periodically, remembering the event in them.

While on a flight to Indianapolis last fall, I flipped through every single picture on my phone. I was supposed to be deleting the bad ones to free up space, but I only really just deleted screenshots of bills I paid.

And that is when it hit me. Standing in a pack of photographers at 5 a.m. to get a sunrise shot at one of the most photographed spots in the world isn’t a time I want to remember.
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

One of my favorite pictures I have taken was at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. I walked around the village disappointed because it was foggy. But I still worked my craft while enjoying the moment.

Later after Pinterest and Instagram came onto the scene, I searched for Peggy’s Cove. And that exact same picture showed up numerous times.

I have a 20×30 print of it framed on my wall. But when I look at it, I remember my trip. I remember being there and marveling at the beauty of the seaside town, visiting with the people I met, and spending time with family. It’s the same with the framed photos in my office. I remember standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon and being amazed at what God created.

Social media can be good. I’ve made friends from all over the country because of it. But it can also cause us to doubt ourselves. When you feel that self-doubt creeping in whether it be your talent, your parenting, or your ability to “keep it all together,” take a pause and step back. Ask yourself why you are feeling this way. And meditate on how that self-doubt and social media filter is obscuring your view of reality.

2 comments

  1. I loved the self doubt article. Been there. I have kicked myself in the rear many times for not taking the picture because of being too tired. Well written.

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