Last week was a tough one. Although some people would celebrate with their hands in the air. I went into a mini depression.
I turned 30.
“Ohhh no. 30 pooorrr baby.” I already hear you all. “30 is a great number. the 30s are the best years of your life. You’ll see. ” For me though, it’s not just about the number. Yes, I left my 20s and yes… Technically, I’m an “adult” now (whatever that means) but a birthday for me means another, more important thing: Getting older. I don’t care what AGE i’m turning. It’s just the fact that i’m getting OLDER. Ouff. That’s really the kicker.
On the eve of my birthday, I started writing a blog post.. but then I stopped. Here’s what it said.
“As i’m writing this, it is approximately 10 minutes to my birthday. 10 minutes until I officially turn 30. Such an incredibly terrifying thought. I’m sure this happens to everyone but I hardly even remember growing up. Do you? I feel like my days are just passing by so fast that I can’t even stop and look at them before they are gone. Is that a good thing? Is it a “time flies when you are having fun” sort of thing? I’m not quite sure. Oh there you go. It’s my birthday. It’s midnight. I’m officially 30. Do I feel different from a minute ago? No. I don’t. But maybe that’s the problem a little. I don’t feel 30. Yet everytime I look into the mirror I look like I’ve aged. There’s lines I don’t recognize and spots I’ve never seen before. And I’m only 30 (man, I really don’t like saying that)”
Ever since I was little I’ve had this incredible fear of growing up. Some people are scared of spiders. Some people are scared of heights. I’m scared of growing old. But not in a “if I get old I’m eventually going to die” sort of way. I’m scared of getting old. Of my body transforming into this shell I won’t recognize anymore. Days are passing by so quickly. Although I don’t FEEL 30, my body speaks differently. And that’s what terrifies me the most. I’m afraid that one day, I’ll waking up and look into the mirror and see someone else.. Someone that doesn’t look like the way I feel.
What’s going to happen when I’m 60? Or 70? When I’ll look into the mirror feeling like i’m still a young girl at heart and all that will reflect back is a face I won’t recognize.
I’m afraid of growing old. Can you say growing old ? I’m pretty sure it’s just getting older. Ah well.
Birthdays. I kinda wish these days would disappear and I could be the age that I want. Just be and look like how I feel. That’s all.
What age would you be if you were the age you currently FEEL ?
I think I would be 22. But come to think of it, I was an idiot when I was 22. I was jumping from major to major, from cegep to cegep. Not knowing that I wanted to do with my life. I was still grieving from my father’s death and I didn’t want to become anything at all in my life. The year after, I actually left home so life with my mom must have been stressful. But I left home, started school in design and went on to getting my first full time job at an office soon after that. So maybe I would be 24 then. I don’t even think this has anything to do with accomplishments or goals. It’s about how I feel inside.
The fear of losing my connection with my inner beauty. I believe that we can be beautiful at any age (i do) but what happens when your inner beauty doesn’t match up with how you look on the outside anymore? That’s such a terrifying thought. Especially when your days are going so fast that you don’t really enjoy them the way that you should.
I clearly need to bring my camera out at personal events and capture more so that I can look back at the photos and relive it from time to time.
I also am giving myself the challenge of taking more personal portraits. To START with that personal goal, I went out with my friend Savitri to capture a few snapshots of each other. When I initially planned the outing with savitri, It wasn’t the goal (to capture more self portraits). However it worked out well because it’s just what I needed. I initially planned the outing because I LOVE springtime and always wanted a portrait of myself with flowers. Every year, I miss out as they only last 3-4 days on the trees.
As I arrived back home and downloaded the photos that Savitri took of me, I started getting nervous. Although I came to terms (somewhat) with my physical appearance after my diagnosis, it was still a little hard to see myself through the eyes of another photographer. You feel and believe you look one way, but then you see yourself through the eyes of someone else and you don’t recognize yourself. When I talk or I smile, I don’t think about my big puffy eyes. I think about being myself, being normal. There’s actually no thought going through my head really. But then I see myself in photographs and I think to myself.. wow who is this person? She looks so tired. Older. Wiser (just kidding).
As photographers, we learn to look at photos differently. We don’t look at them and notice the little physical features that you might not like about yourself. Mostly because, after we arrive home, we don’t necessarily KNOW what you don’t like about yourself. We look at the photos as a whole. Composition, Colours, Expression. I was thinking about that as I was waiting for my computer to load. It’s not fair that I go on and look at my OWN photos and criticize them differently as I would my clients. Yes I know my own insecurities… but everyone else doesn’t. They see my photos as a whole. So I tried to alter my viewing process.
As I was flipping through a few of my own photos after that, I found a particular one that I liked. I guess I was going through the photos so fast that I didn’t necessarily see my features in detail when I chose the photo. I managed to see it as a whole and what the photo COULD BE rather than looking at all the things that I THINK I don’t like about myself.Without thinking, I put it in black and white, overexposed it and started retouching it slightly (as I would any photo).
After I finish retouching it, 2 minutes later, I took a step back and FORGOT that I was retouching my own face. I also didn’t recognize myself in the photo. It looks like SO MUCH has changed in my face in the last few years. I feel like I’ve been SO FOCUSED on my puffy eyes that now, it’s all I see when I look at myself in the mirror or when I look at photos of myself. When seeing the photo as a whole however and making the puffy more faint in photoshop, I become a completely different person. The person that people might actually SEE when they look at me (as they are not focused on my self-conscience physical issues like I am). A real photographer will be able to show you that. Take your portrait and strip it of the things you shouldn’t be focusing on. Leaving it with what really matters. A photo of you.
I think the real problem is also that I don’t take enough portraits of myself (or let people take photos of me) in order to keep track to what I look like as I’m getting older. That although I’m changing just a little bit every year, not having a good photo of myself often is giving me a bigger shock that it should be. Savitri and I made a deal that we would be out and practice techniques and take photos of each other at least once every 1-2 months. That way, we’ll become better photographers and get awesome photos to remind us that we are awesome beautiful women. We didn’t actually say that, but I think it applies.
I feel like this blog post went all over the place.
The bottom line. Although I recently turned 30 and lived through a few rough days last week, I do realize that it’s important to understand that there’s nothing stopping the fact that I’m getting older (and wiser). It’s time that I STOP and actually enjoy simple moments so that they are more vivid in my mind. Also, my physical appearance is changing daily and I should be celebrating it rather than beating myself up that I don’t look the same way as I did 10 years ago. By capturing more photos of myself as well as my surroundings, I think I’ll be able to relive my moments a little more often and start catching up with my own life rather than just letting them fly by for the chance of “waking up” one morning and realizing that I remember it only as I fuzzy dream rather than it actually happening. This is point Zero. It starts here.
I invite you to do the same.
As I was retouching that last photo of myself, I was completely thrown off that I didn’t recognize myself from a few years ago. When I went back to my facebook photos to try to find another self portrait where I could compare facial features , I couldn’t find any good one of me. I would always be in the back or blurry or making a stupid face trying to camouflage. No more.
For now on, it’s all about creative portraits, smiles, taking the time to smell the roses (literally).
more photos from the shoot soon.
Don’t be shy to let me know your thoughts and how you feel about getting older, in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.