I f***-ed up.
Nothing simple, like running out of gas, forgetting to buy something at the grocery store. No, this one was kinda big and it got attached to a belief system. And not a good belief, either. lol
I recently went to Vegas for a photography convention. In 7 years I have never been to one. I wanted to go to the trade show and see all the products and vendors that I’ve been interested in.
I want to begin offering larger prints to my clients and it’s not easy to see what those products really looked like while looking at them online. I wanted to be able to feel and touch and hold the acrylic pieces, the canvas products I had heard so much about. I wanted to see the prints on metal and see if that were something I would love.
Living where I do, it’s easy to hop onto Southwest Airlines and be in Vegas in an hour. I was to spend the day walking and looking around and then be home by dinner. I’ve never done anything like that before and I’ve never done it alone. It seemed so, so, grown up to be going to Vegas for the day for my photography business.
I felt cool.
My flight was delayed an hour. So as I sat on the plane, I got clear on what my purpose was. To keep myself from being overwhelmed, I set an intention.
There were 3 labs that I wanted to see for sure.
I wanted to come home with lots of brochures and product pictures on my iPhone.
I wanted to be much closer about deciding what I was going to offer going forward.
The delayed flight left me with 3 hours to get it done. Easy.
I took a taxi to the beautiful Mandalay Bay Convention Center. It was all great. I found the convention registration area and checked in.
It was official - I had a lanyard and a name tag, I’m a photographer.
But now I couldn’t find the trade show floor.
“Oh, hi, um, I was wondering if you could tell me where the exhibit hall is?”
“Oh that doesn’t start until tomorrow.”
That couldn’t be.
I asked again to make sure, “Tomorrow? The trade show is tomorrow?” “Yes, that’s right.” “Okay, great. Thanks.” I smiled. The last thing I needed was for them to know that I was wrong.
I kept walking. No way. That can’t be true. I think I asked the wrong question, they must not have understood me right. I kept walking. Finally, seeing some others I asked them the same question and got the same answer.
It was right about this time that the embarrassment took over. And then the shame. And the belief I mentioned earlier came roaring up.
“OMG, you are not one of the hotshot photographers you so admire.
You can’t come in. You don’t belong. Did you think you were some superstar? HA!
You’re not. You came all this way, went through all the hassle to be here, and you still are on the outside looking on.
You think you’re so smart, seriously, you’re never going to get your business to their level.
C’mon, who are you kidding?”
And on and on. I didn’t really hear words, or voices, certainly not full sentences. It’s more like a general knowing, an understanding that
I suck and they don’t.
Outsider. Not cool. Loser. Don’t let anyone know this is really who you are.
I decided to check online at the website for this convention. There it was looking back at me on my phone screen.
How could I have missed this? It starts tomorrow. I took a taxi back to the airport.
A loser. This F*** up just confirmed the obvious.
That I am not, and never will be, in that crowd - the cool crowd, the confident crowd, the crowd with all the other photographers.
Over the next several days, the belief pecked away at me. "It was just a mistake” I kept trying to tell myself. But it had gotten in me. I was down.
I was tired.
Unmotivated to do much of anything.
For the next several days I kept thinking about it with unbelief. I had done all the necessary steps to be there, was standing in the convention center, and it didn’t start until tomorrow. OMG
I tried to forget about it.
Laugh it off, mistakes happen.
But it was the belief about my mistake that was taking me down. It wasn’t the actual mistake - it’s what I had decided that it meant.
Here’s where it gets good. Finally. This is what I ended up doing about it.
I reached out.
I’m in a small mastermind circle of other photographers and I told them what had happened. I received their love and agreement that they would have felt the same way. That was nice.
But then, I got a plan. My coach gave me a way out. Told me that this belief needed to be rewired and it needed to be done now.
She promised me that this belief, this strong feeling of less-than, would come back as it has in the past over and over again. She gave me a plan to rewire it. I took a chance, I decided to believe her, and I did it.
#1 was to write down everything good that happened because of my trip to Vegas. It wasn’t ALL bad, nor could it have been. There’s always good to be found.
Admittedly, this was a little hard. My way of looking at something like this is pretty black and white. But there were some good things that happened.
I got caught up on my favorite podcasts as I walked around the airport waiting to come home. One good thing.
I was able to practice the act of getting quiet and setting an intention. Good thing I guess.
I was able to be a kind person to the big dude sitting next to me and listened to what he needed to talk about. Good thing.
However, nothing magical was happening to my psyche at this point.
#2 Then I was to actually write out the entire dialogue of negative crap that enveloped me. This took some doing. Like I said, I really don’t hear voices, no complete sentences. It was just a feeling. So I had to sit with it for a while and let it come up.
And it did. Here’s a sampling:
“You don’t belong here. (Have you ever felt like that?)
Who do you think you’re kidding, you’ll never take images like that anyway, like you’re some big superstar or something. (Have you ever been so mean to anyone like that?
I’m so embarrassed. This is so like me. (Aaack, so mean!)
There you go - this is PROOF that you’re not a player and never will be…”
Have YOU ever felt like a big faker?
That’s how these things go for me. I stay and belong in the low middle of life. (Wow, harsh..)
And on and on. It was a lot. I sat and just let it come up and up and up. Wow.., I would never talk this mean, this snotty, this awful to someone I didn’t like, let alone to someone I did. Wow.
I sat with my list of self-hate and read each statement out loud. I looked in the mirror, at the person reflected back at me and calmly, sweetly, with love asked myself if each statement was true? (Honestly, you should try this.)
I kept asking myself, looking at myself, reading the hatred until…it lessened. I smiled.
#3 Next and final action was to counter attack the negative voice by coming up with ways I could have made the trip a success - even though. What could I have done instead of putting my tale between my legs and gone home?
This too was hard to think of. The whole act of thinking of this list was challenging my belief system that I suck.
Well, let’s see. I’m a photographer. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I had my iPhone. I could have taken really cool images of the beautiful architecture all around. I bet there was a fountain somewhere, too. Maybe I could have used these images in future marketing pieces.
I was in a really nice casino/hotel. I could have found the spa and gotten a really nice spa treatment. Why? Because I’m freaking awesome and deserve it, that’s why!
I believe it was right about here that I started to feel stronger, better, worthy. The big lie was destroyed, I didn’t believe it anymore. It was an incredible feeling!
Maybe it’ll come back, it might, but now I have a plan, a way to honor myself, forgive myself, and believe in myself again.
We’re all going to mess up. Big ones, little ones. Use the opportunity to check in with yourself to see if you’re telling yourself any big lies about what the mistakes mean.
That’s the kicker.
Business not where you want it to be? Probably telling yourself some lies.
Relationships not where you want them to be? You’ve got responsibility in there and I bet it has to do with your belief about who you are and what you deserve and what you have to give.
Health not so good? How’s your weight? Belief system again.
It’s everything. Our beliefs run our lives.
One of my goals for this year, especially in this new decade, (ahem) I want to finally get over, get beyond, grow so that by the end of this year, at my next birthday, I won’t give a shit about a f**k up. I’m tired of dealing with this crap.
What’s next as I continue to work through this and integrate it into my photography? Stay tuned.
Namaste, peace, and much love.