I remembered who I am [Tess, week one]

Written on June 14, 2011 by in Artistry & inspiration, Guest bloggers
Hello, lovelies. Today, I’m introducing a guest blogger who is participating in my Art Aligned Workshop. She’s so good that she introduces herself in the next paragraph so I’m going to let her take it away. Please welcome Tess! 

Hello. Please let me introduce myself.  I’m Tess, and I am Kate’s guest blogger for the next eight weeks. I am a photographer and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am currently attending the Art Aligned workshop for artists who also have the delusion of someday being business people—and successful business people at that. It’s eight weeks long and meets once a week via Skype. I went in with my usual high hopes, but halfway resigned already for a dud. Yes, you are right, dear reader, I *have* been to a few of these. Sigh.

We started out a little awkwardly.

Expected, really. We aren’t a group yet, no cohesiveness, everyone being super polite and quiet. Then we got into the nitty gritty fast. Kate, our brave and fearless leader, socked it to us head-in-the-clouds artist types. She opened with a discussion of differentiation that quickly led to an analysis of the saturation in the industry caused by industry leaders who need to fill seats in their seminars. She went down the familiar list of things that are considered gospel truths by these leaders and by the industry for photographers and studios, i.e. raise your prices, you’re worth that much; make your business a boutique business; upsell! upsell! upsell! those albums and products; oh, btw, I happened to bring my latest product for you to buy, it’s a really cool set of posing cards, it’s a new dvd of PS editing shortcuts, it’s the latest pre-sets your business can’t succeed without, your clients are going to love these fantastic new album templates. I should maybe confess right now that, yes, I do indeed have all of the above.

Kate then spoke of blog stalking (my new fave term and I’m using it even when not applicable to the conversation), why we all look alike now (it’s kind of obvious now we’re all using the same posing guides and pre-sets and templates), and if we all look alike then the only way or primary way we differentiate ourselves in the eyes of consumers is by price, that dirty little word.

Well, my dears, Kate nailed it.  It sounded like she maybe had our studio bugged (????!!!!) and was reporting on private conversations my business partner and I have been having about our industry the last year or so. A bit freaky, followed by the oh my goodness, you mean someone else analyzed this and sees it clearly too? And is willing to talk about it? And it was good to hear. We have talked about this subject ad nauseam at work, circling ’round and ’round it, with no satisfactory conclusion.

We then went on to an exercise that most of us coaching junkies have done several times at least: the what-are-your-strengths, best-things-about-you exercise. So, an obedient little attendee, I started writing. And writing. I did a train of thought because I find it rather quickly gets me to writing something real.

And it did and I did.

I have been having a crisis of confidence since a workshop I attended earlier this year. Starting with discomfort and moving to fear, cruising on to panic, then surpassing panic to go on to a full on freak out.  All on the inside of course—the inside of my head, the inside of my face, the inside of my body.  I looked perfectly normal and calm on the outside. Of course. A crisis deepened by asking myself really truly poor quality questions (and Anthony Robbins taught me to ask myself good quality questions so I knew I was in trouble).

And all those bad bad very bad questions led me right down the all-my-creativity-just-dried-up path. I freaked out. I didn’t believe I was capable any more. I was just this weird fake artist that was delusional! I should just stop now and stop embarrassing myself! These were some of my thoughts. It was awful. Go home like a good girl and maybe bake for a living. (In case you’re wondering just why baking for a living was not a good thought: I have celiacs.) You’re not an artist honey, you’re a moron. Oh too bad, so sad.

I know. Gross.

Anyway, I was so afraid and shut down I couldn’t even schedule sessions anymore. I stopped looking at all the things that I’m obsessed with and that make me happy and get me into the zingy zing zing-o-matic groove. I completely and totally forgot I have a large body of work that is Stellar! Fantastic! Amazing! Zowie!

And then.

And then I wrote something down during that exercise that reminded me. It changed my view. it moved my brain from where I was caught in despair and sadness and life sucked out of me to happy and sane and in my right mind and dare I say, zing-o-matic? I wrote ‘I love composing in 3D and I’m great at it.’ The way each object in the frame relates to the other is purely poetry. The shadows are a whole entity in and of themselves. And the light, and the beauty, and the subject…

All of the sudden, completely out of the blue, I was reminded who I was, who I am, who I truly am. Not the self that hid away, overwhelmed. The real me, the one that is calm and happy and in her element in 3D. The one who doesn’t even question her talent, doesn’t even think of it much, it’s just there in the background, a low hum, a great tool when needed. And let’s face it, I never call it ‘talent’ in my head either.  I just love color and construction paper and running with scissors. Jeez. It’s kindergarten everyday.

And it was all better. Pretty much between one breath and the next, it stole in and took me back over. I am still bewildered, both by the suddenness and hugeness of the change, as well as the fact that both of these states of being, their radical difference, can be happening in the same person. At almost the same time.

And I picked up my camera and called a friend and said let’s schedule a fun session and she, being no fool, said ‘great, now?’ And so I composed in 3D again and we had a fantastic time. By the end of the session, it was all good. I was back in there where I need to be, where I live. And it just flowed on from there. And the strange thing is after all those weeks and weeks and weeks of no clients, no one calling me, fear fear fear, tight stomach and no sleep, my phone is ringing and my email is filling.  The energy shifted.

Significant learning happened for me and to me during this unexpected and miraculous process. Did I really have to write that sentence for you? Kind of obvious.

So here are a couple of questions for you and your life, your inner and outer selves:
What do you tell yourself that makes you believe you’re nothing?
What do you know to be true that you have forgotten? Completely forgotten?

I didn’t change who I was, I remembered who I am.

All that from a silly little exercise that I’ve done at least 5 other times.

If this is all I get out this eight weeks, hello.

I am now paying attention, Kate. You have the floor.

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  1. […] Note: This is a guest post by Tess, the second in her series about the Art Aligned […]

  2. […] Note: This is a guest post by Tess, the second in her series about the Art Aligned […]

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