MY MIDDLE NAME IS SUE.
There’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now.
Right now I want to listen to Amy Grant, and cry. But more than that, I want to be honest, freely, totally, completely, way, too, many, commas. I want to show not just the home runs, but the swings and the misses too. Indulge me if you can, down an path of self-acceptance via a VSCO collaboration.
My pride would say I rarely cry but that’s not true—I’m hella sensitive and react with water works to anything that hits me on an emotional level. Before I tell you why I cried though, go look at the project. If you make it back, let's continue. To participate in this, I needed to submit three self-portraits; one of my own whatever, a flash white wall one and an abstract one. Easy enough, I thought. I imagined them, each one cooler than the next and I felt confident in a very 'Emari' series of self-portraits. I had a few problems though. First, I had only one week available, and it was so packed that I drafted several emails saying I just couldn't make it. Two, my flash had recently fallen off my camera during a shoot and didn’t work. And three, and this one is the real problem, I didn’t know who 'Emari' was.
I made hundreds of self-portraits in every corner of my house, bathroom and bedroom using every technique I could think and still nothing I liked at all. I cried and vented and I took a deep breath and doctored my flash and went through two packs of AA batteries in one night trying to make the perfect photobooth classic—and in the morning hated every one. I cried to my boyfriend so much that he no longer knew how to help me. We finally drove to Malibu on the day before the deadline and as the sun fell I set up a tripod. I composed a setting in a field and arranged a few personal items from home. I set the camera settings, ran back and forth a few times and then with my man hitting the camera shutter like a metronome, I tried to pose as I imagined I should (So does it even count if he hit the shutter? What is a self-portrait? Message me, because idk). I got home and the images came out beautiful, the subject, not so much. I somehow could not make an acceptable photograph of myself and then it hit. The photographs weren't unacceptable, it was me.
The sounds of Amy Grant bring me back to my dining room where she is now crooning a childhood classic, 'Say You'll Be Mine.' It makes me think of my mom and I smile and cry a little. I'm losing my confidence in writing this. I want to send it to a few close friends for review*, but I'm tired of second guessing myself and censoring my feelings and pretending to be perfect when I’m not nearly but think I am sometimes and need to be brought back. I'm in it for the truth now, and I can't stop here.
Alas, I am torn.
Looking back, I actually love some of the field images—thank you, Keyel, for your patience. You will be blessed. I think my idea is a tad contrived but after all, it is a 28-year-old woman who chose to put on her best dress and haul furniture into a field as a form of self-expression. About to submit, I scrolled though the images that had survived the gauntlet. Each one more of a failure than the other, I went into deep self-depreciation. I hated her, truly despised her, this 'Emari' who was photobombing all my beautiful self-portraits. I remembered high school and the letter I wrote that forced my mom put me in weekly counseling sessions. I remembered emotional and physical self-inflicted cuts. I had so many questions: Who was this person in these photos? How, after all these years, did I not relate to her? My vision of myself did not match up with the impartial camera's eye. I never wanted to make self-deprecation art, but here I am.
This project challenged me to give something I lacked: a sense of self.
As in my abstract image (the one I submitted for the project), I once more, bury my head and my tears now mourn the death of the 'Emari' I thought I knew. I'm on a quest and am starting to want more than answers. I want to know about the world, about God, about humans and science and nature and miracles. I have so many questions but I feel conscious and connected and peaceful. I just want to know if I like things... like hot sauce. I don’t know if I like movies (they should all be better). I love flowers. I’m depressed and anxious sometimes. I drove like a crazy person for five minutes today because I was frustrated (and I feel bad about that). My middle name is Sue. I love astronomy and wish I had better eyesight so I could see the stars better. I got my opinions solely from Reddit for at least a year. I love humans more every day.
Back in the dining room, I notice Christmas Amy has been playing for a minute. I have strict rules regarding Christmas music in the summer but can't find it in myself to care suddenly and I turn it up. I cried when I saw my portrait series posted because it made me revisit what I went through to create the images. I decided I needed to share it to understand it. Nothing is perfect, everything is balance. The title of 'Creator.' What does it mean? Am I worthy? Yes, and you are too. 'We The Creators.'
Also see the project here if you skipped it up there. ;)
Until next time,
I love you. Love yourselves. Pray for me.
P.S. Amy Grant is my jam for the rest of the week.
*I sent a draft of this to a tight handful of mentors/friends/mom anyway. You all are my rocks and my wings.
Swing and a miss, I made this a page instead of a blog post so you can't comment but you can email: