Wow...it has been awhile! April & May are definitely busy months for us, as I am sure for many of you.
I was thinking this morning about "being prepared", & how that often is comforting to a first-born like me. I like to feel that I have a plan for the what-ifs & just-in-case scenarios, should they pop-up. Ok, I confess... I am the mom who, when packing our family to go out of town, would pack an extra pair of socks & "unmentionables" for everyone, just-in-case we had to stay an extra day. Even though the "kiddos" aren't little anymore & pack themselves, they know to count the days & add on one more.
I was reminded of a situation with one of our sons, when he was about 5 or 6 years old. He was taking swimming lessons during the summer, & had never been a child who was afraid of the water. He liked his instructor, & had no trouble being in the water, trying whatever was demonstrated...until it got to dunking his head under the water, opening his eyes, & picking up the colored ring on the bottom. Now I should mention that even as an adult, I don't really like opening my eyes under the water, but that is a different story completely! Anyway, our little guy just could not bring himself to do it, no matter how hard he stared at the ring from above the water. The session time was over, & the instructor tried to reassure him, saying that it was ok, he would have another chance to try the next day. By the time we got to the car, my son was pretty upset, insisting he was NOT going to do it, he couldn't do it. Since he had worked himself up into a frenzy (& it was lunchtime), I said we would talk about it later; it was time for lunch.
Well, "later" did eventually show up, & he & I sat down for a little chat. I asked him why he didn't want to do it, was he afraid? I reminded him that he got water in his eyes all the time in the bathtub & going through the sprinkler. He wasn't saying much, so finally I asked him this question: "What is the worst thing that could happen?" Now this was (& still is) a pretty bright kid. The rest of the conversation went something like this:
Him: "What if I go to the bottom to get the ring & can't find my way back to the top?" (The pool was really quite shallow, & he could stand comfortably in it, but I am sure it feels much scarier when you are 5 or 6)
Me: "Your teacher is right there to help you if you need him."
Him: "What if he is busy with one of the other kids?"
Me: "Then I will jump in and save you."
Him: "But you don't have your swimsuit on!"
Me: "That doesn't matter--I would jump in with all of my clothes on if you needed me."
Then he was quiet for a moment, probably envisioning me jumping in fully clothed. That seemed to satisfy him, reassure him that between the teacher & I, he would be taken care of. The next day at swimming lessons he looked over at me, took a deep breath, & submerged himself in the water, surfacing with the coveted ring. I have no idea if he remembers this as vividly as I do, but I can still see the look on his face as we talked through the challenge he was facing.
Now you are probably wondering why on earth I am telling you this story. Sometimes I wonder, in my own personal challenges, if I am preparing for the just-in-case moments, or giving myself excuses not to try, to be brave & trust that it will be ok. I have talked with other very successful photographers who, to my surprise, along their journey have faced the same feelings of self-doubt or anxiety...what if I don't get the "right" shots? What if I forget something I need? I think that there are times when I need to step away & ask myself what I would say to my not-so-little kiddos or a friend if they came to me in a similar situation. I guess what I need to do is get out of my own way, be brave, & believe that everything really will be ok. And if a situation comes up that I am not prepared for, I just might be surprised at my own ability to take a deep breath & "jump right in"!