Self-doubt, you can't sit with us!

"Mean Girls" Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

"Mean Girls" Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimised by self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a Mean Girl. She writes stuff about you in her burn book and makes you read it ALL THE TIME. Things like “are you sure you want to wear that today?” and “you should probably run that email past your mum first”. When did it become okay for self-doubt to be the boss of everybody? We should totally just STAB SELF-DOUBT! (running with this self-doubt is Regina George analogy).

When I first started out in wedding photography I would do a lot of research. Researching other people's work is what got me excited about wedding photography in the first place. I would spend hours scrolling through amazing photographer's stories of loved up couples. I was excited, it was liberating, it was freeing, I had finally found MY CALLING.

But starting out in something new is hard. Much like transferring to a new school after you've been homeschooled in Africa your whole life, it's new and scary and confusing and there are a lot of questions and not many answers. It's tempting to find the most successful person and imitate accordingly. What started as inspiration (we're back to real life now) became an exercise in comparison that just lead to anxiety and worry. I kept looking around at other photographers and thinking “who told them the secret?”, “who gave them the rule book?” and I would research and compare and research and compare and all the time self-doubt, that scum-sucking road whore, would be saying “you're not doing it right”.

Self-doubt makes you think that doing things differently is too risky and people will notice and say "she doesn't know what she's doing!". Self-doubt makes you think you should conform and do what everyone else is doing because it's safer that way. Looking at what your peers are doing can be inspiring and illuminating, but it can also be inhibiting and detrimental. Self-doubt makes you compare yourself to others and find yourself lacking.

I don't know exactly when I decided self-doubt couldn't sit with me (and obviously she still does a lot of the time, otherwise this post would be called “How I learned to stop doubting myself and overcame all my insecurities.” which is never gonna happen, acceptance is key) but one day I just realised (in a big DUH DOI moment) that people aren't following some secret set of rules I haven't been told about, they just told self-doubt to go sit with the Asian Nerds for a bit, while they make their own rules.

So I guess what I'm saying (with many a clunky Mean Girls reference) is, stop questioning yourself and comparing yourself to others, know that what you're doing is the right way and do it with confidence (or pretend confidence, which is the next best thing - if you pretend enough it'll be real eventually and NO ONE WILL KNOW) because we're all just making up as we go along. The rules don't exist and it's time you threw self-doubt under the bus.