Learning to Take Up Space
Learning to take up space.
Being part of this online world and building a business is really vulnerable for me. A lot of my life I've lived small. I'm an introvert, I am shy - I learnt to overcome these restrictions, but I also never had that mindset that you can get out there and do whatever you want to do. I always played small & dreamed small. I believed that those dreams that really burnt inside of me were only possible for other people. I suppose part of it was always small country mindset, and something I got from school and the social environment. These things still seem to affect the decisions I make. I always feel a resistance when I dream bigger. It's hard to believe it will be possible, it hard to believe in myself. I will fail. I will be seen as an imposter. I will be a disappointment. None of these fears are based in pure fact. They don't count all the times random strangers cheer me on in a private message or a heartfelt comment after I share my thoughts or creations. They don't consider every time someone invested in my time & vision, believed in me, they don't count every happy client. Self-doubt ignores everything but it's own voice. But I am not prepared to live my life led by this voice. I intend to show up and keep showing up to do the work I am here to do. But how do we learn to claim our space under the sun, to allow ourselves to show up to do what we love when we feel fear and restriction as we attempt to do so? I’ve learnt ways to feel the fear and do it anyway. I’ve learnt to focus on what I can do by showing up, rather than what I’m lacking. I thought I’d share some of these lessons I’ve learnt along the way as encouragement for you to claim your space, to move beyond the fear and to show up with your gifts and talents.
Only you can bring your light to the world.
There is one and only one of you in this world. No one else has the same genetic makeup, the same array of interests, passions and gifts. No one else shares your exact visions, dreams and ideas. Yes, there will always be people doing something similar, or those who have come before us and achieved what we dream of. But you can choose to say “that’s it - there’s no more work to be done in this world, all that is good has been created and all the spaces on this planet for people to do what they love have been filled”. Or you can choose to see those others as trail-blazers who have paved the way for you to come and join their ranks. The ranks of people making a difference in the world. When the cinemas are hit with a new environmental documentary do we cry out protest “is there yet another film trying to teach us something of an issue that calls for our attention in this world”? Or do we embrace the chance to learn something new? Do you think J.R.R.Tolkien should have stopped before writing another word? “John, does the world that is filled with myths and tales really need another epic story of adventure and magic?”. As creative people we have a real weakness in questioning if our work is good enough for the world, if it is wanted. We could question the need to do, to create, to show up till the world comes to an end. But the reality is that the world needs us all to show up. To do what we’re good at, to play a part in our communities, to inspire those who come after us and follow the lead of those before us. Just because something has been done before, doesn’t mean that your own unique way of doing it isn’t going to be of value. You will never know the impact of something you create or do until you’ve actually done the work.
Showing up as you are - human.
You don’t have to be confident to show up. You simply have to be there. It’s brave and vulnerable to share your true self, your unedited life and your truths with the world, but it has power to connect, to inspire, to help others feel less alone in their own perfectly imperfect lives. We all share similar fears, worries, dreams, insecurities at one time or another. When we dare to show up, we are mostly met with compassion. People relate to others who are like them. Showing up isn’t about showing off, it’s about sharing the truth. If you’re a one woman business - showing up doing work in your pjs on instagram stories or your pile of yet to be packed orders doesn’t make you less professional, less gifted, less capable of making an impact or delivering a service. It just says that you’re human. Just like everyone else. And that you’re also figuring stuff out, you also get tired and overwhelmed, you also make sacrifices and don’t always have your shit together. The world doesn’t need more people to pretend they have they shit together 100% of the time. The world needs people who are authentic & unafraid. The people around us and we ourselves need more people showing up as their wholesome, imperfect selves. Because those people are easier to relate to and be inspired by. When I started this business I was sometimes overwhelmed by comparison to people who already have the success that I was only beginning to really work towards. But every day I come across more people who seem so much more like me, no matter how far in their journey. I look up to and learn from people who share the real ups and downs of running your own business, who are not afraid to show that they haven’t got it all together all the time. It helps me see that it is possible for me to achieve what I dream of too. Because we’re not so wildly different.
Showing Up Before You’re Ready.
You could wait a million years to be ready. But done is better than perfect. I don’t write that to discourage attention to detail and enthusiasm for pushing your own limits. I do, because if we wait to be ready, we risk never starting. We risk looking back on our lives and thinking “I wish I had made those first steps years ago! Why did I waste all this time?”. Trust me, I have those regrets. I wish almost daily I had started this business 10 years ago. I was ready. I just didn’t know it yet. And I didn’t know how. But I also didn’t know how to do this 2 years ago when I was finally tired of telling myself my dream was impossible. I figured out the how by throwing myself into the doing, by making those first steps and taking it from there. And of course - I am better at what I do now, I am wiser, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, more life & work experience. And mostly - I am more confident. But I am also not as confident as I wish I was. I still doubt myself and my abilities plenty, I still question what and how I am doing. I still worry at times that I am not good enough. But I know now that an essential part of the process is to feel those doubts, those fear and carry on doing what I’m doing anyway. I allow them to feed into my process only so much as they help me dig deeper into my purpose, my mission. I believe in myself, in what I’m doing, but I don’t always feel 100% ready. And that’s ok. I choose daily to start before I am ready and it leads to so many more results than waiting ever has. I no longer way to be ready, to be more confident, because I understood that the confidence, the readiness is acquired through experience and in time. It’s when you look back on the work you’ve done that you realise just how far you’ve come. Looking forward is always so much more intimidating.
Showing Up to Connect & Make an Impact
I often held back from claiming my space, because I worried that I’d be too self-centred to do that. But showing up & claiming your space to do the work you love isn’t selfish. Not if your work, your gifts, your talents and vision serve others. Or have the power to inspire and connect people. Showing up is about taking our part in the wider community, it’s about doing meaningful work for and with others. Sometimes social media can make you feel like you’re just putting things out into the void , but its not true if you’re stepping into that world to connect with others, to hold space for meaningful conversations, to inspire & uplift others, to educate, to share your experiences in order to help others. Showing up is about more than just us and our needs. It’s about being part of something bigger, it’s about not hiding our light from the world. When I reframe it in such way I understand that showing up isn’t selfish - it’s necessary. I need people like me to show up, to inspire, to help me in my journey. And I want to do my part in helping others in the same way.
Showing Your Face In YOur BUsiness
I know that a lot of business owners and creatives feel that they are not important when it comes to their product or service. They let the work speak for itself. But people buy from people, not just businesses. People buy because of the values and mission that the business represents. It’s not just about having a good quality service or an impressive product - it’s about how people connect with us as a part of our brand, too.
If you’re a creative business owner, you are your brand. Your values, your personality and ideas matter. As a portrait and couples photographer I know that personal connection with my clients is a really important part of my work. So I seek to show up to create and foster that connection long before my client makes the decision to work with me. I do so by showing up on social media, speaking about values that matter to me, sharing my story and my face on my social media, my website, my blog and newsletters. When people choose to work with me because they connect with me and my values it always leads to more meaningful, deeper and more honest work. I spend time during each photoshoot taking to the client, connecting and getting to know each other, because it’s that connection that allows people to relax, to feel comfortable and unafraid to show up in front of my camera. When I work with other creatives & business owners, my mission is for those photographs to help them show up as their own beautiful, unique selves and foster a personal connection with their audience. Just the simple act of sharing portraits of yourself on your Instagram can lead more & better quality engagement. Every social media expert will tell you so, and I’ve noticed that in my own experience. Whilst I still have a humble following, the comments and conversations I have with people through my account are deep and meaningful and lead to lasting friendships, connections and clients that really get me and love to work with me.
Every time my head begins to fill with thoughts of not being enough, not having enough to share, or “why would anyone want to hear from me?” I remind myself of all that I’ve just spoken about. It helps me to reframe the way I think about showing up. I realise that showing up doesn’t require to be at a better place, to be a better human, it just requires realising that who you are now and what you can already give is enough, and needed. And that every 1 person that you can inspire, connect to, or teach something is all that matters. My hope is that this blog post my help you reframe the way you see it too. And inspire you to show up a little more each day and share your own light with the world. Because we need you. And please do leave me your thoughts and comments in the section below - I would love to hear of your experiences of showing up, claiming a part of an online space and connecting with your clients by sharing more of yourselves. I want to understand more about what stops you from sharing your personality and your face online and ways I can help do so.