Open letter to my beautiful daughter whom I gave birth to 20 years ago today:
This year is like no other in history and you get to experience these historical moments first-hand that will forever be written in the history books. 2020 is an amazing time to be alive in so many ways and you have marked the year with your 20 years of grace, beauty and strength.
The amazing thing about these phases of life is, we get through them, we persevere, we learn and grow each time and they don’t last forever. They become a little blip in the large span of our lives and God uses these events to help us grow physically, mentally and spiritually.
In the past twenty years, you have gone through a lot, but you always came out the other side like a shining light in the dark.
From a spirited toddler to a gracious young adult…
You have grown beyond needing your “mimi” which we never thought would pass. You no longer needed your yellow torn ‘blankie” which gave you comfort in times of distress.
You left behind the little holes we used to cut in your footed onsies. This was so you could access your belly button with your tiny fingers to lull yourself into a slumber.
You learned to walk and run even though you never learned to crawl, instead you scooted your behind all the way across the floor. You kept swimming even when you felt you had to rest. Your breaths would fall short but you finished the laps and came out strong with your own personal bests.
You always kept a sense of humor, even in the worst of times. Your camera roll of funny faces will forever be engrained in my mind.
You learned jazz, tap, and modern dance and pressed through on pointe in every show, even on those days when you didn’t think you could dance one more second at all.
You pushed beyond a diagnosis of chronic lyme, and didn’t let that stop you. You continued to pursue your passions, with swim and dance, clubs and friends and kept yourself busy with very little down time. Even those weeks when it knocked you down for days, you got back up, you stood strong and your body continued to carry on. You never lost hope in the process or the path, and many days when your faith wore thin, you reeled yourself back in. You trusted me and your dedicated practitioners, but most importantly you had faith that God had the greater plans.
You preferred not to go to the biggest high school in town, but you persevered all the way through. You got straight A’s, impressed your teachers and even met some friends. In the end this was where you met your soulmate and very special boyfriend.
When the thought of leaving for college was in the midst, it caused much stress. But you walked the walk, danced the dance, and conquered one of the hardest years yet.
Then when covid came to town, the world was pushed beyond all normalcy, and your college and special trips were all shut down. You rallied through all those disappointments and challenges and got to where you are right now.
It’s Sophomore year in college, nothing like the norm, but you continue to study hard, getting 4.0’s, pursuing your goals, even with masks and mandates that keep you within your dorm. You somehow find a way, to do what you do best…being you and staying true to what YOU believe is best.
On this most special birthday year, when you leave the teens and begin the twenty’s, may you always remind yourself of all you have endured and recognize the best coming.
Stay in each moment and realize that your unique journey will get you through, but only when you keep God at your side and have faith in His path and trust in His plan for YOU.
Priceless Art -The low-down on the Senior Portrait Session
You just dropped your child off at preschool crying because they didn’t want to leave your side, or vice versa, you didn’t want them to leave you. In what seems like the blink of an eye, they are preparing for their last year of high school and the long awaited “Senior Portrait Session”.
I know exactly how you feel, my daughter is a senior this year. Last year I had the same ache in my heart, wondering where time went, and how I was going to be able to photograph my own daughter so that I could create priceless pieces of art for our walls. Yes, I consider these pieces of art, for a few reasons, but the primarily the fact that your child is one in a million; no one else can be him or her; no one else loves them as you, the parent, loves them. They are unique, they are beautiful, and you are the reason they are thriving here on this earth, with a little help from the big guy above, of course. These portraits will be capturing this monumental moment in their lives, as well as your favorite expression that only a parent can love, the smile that melts your heart, the eyes that you have been so used to looking at, for the last 16 or 17 years.
It is priceless for the fact that you cannot get this time back, they are on the cusp of being a full fledged adult and right now they are still under your wings until the day that comes soon where they will lift their wings and fly away. Their senior portraits will be a constant reminder of the days that passed and the life you have provided for them. Whether they move further away or stay close by, it will always be a special memento of this transition into their next stage of life. That piece of art on your walls just may be the last formal portrait session that you have of them until the day they say “I do” to someone else whom they choose to love and dedicate their lives to. This being said, I consider these portraits both priceless and pieces of art.
The art of senior portrait photography to me is much more than just producing pictures on paper. It’s about capturing the ‘essence’ of your senior in a stress-free, fun and relaxed outdoor environment. My approach is simple, to bring out the best in them, by connecting with them, for just one or two hours, where I will learn a little bit more about who they are and what they love to do now and in their future. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is truly getting to know the seniors, so that I may present to you, portraits that reflect their true ‘spirit and personality’.
You should book your senior portrait session during the spring leading up to their senior year. Summer months book up quickly for many photographers.
Once we book your senior session, I will be in touch over the course of the weeks leading up to your session, including a month before (to send you the session guide and any other necessary information ), then again a week or so before and lastly 1-2 days before the sitting to answer any last minute questions you may have to help you prepare for this special day.
Approximately 7-10 days after your session a password protected online gallery will be uploaded to my website for viewing your proofs. 1-3 days after the session, I may post a sneak peak of a few of my favorite images from your session on my Sharon Ward Photographyfacebook page. I encourage you to comment, like, and share with friends and family on facebook or use as your profile image.
Your final print choices with your order from the session will be due approx 10-14 days after the proofs are uploaded to my gallery for viewing.
Once you notify me of your yearbook choice from the proofs, I will take care of all the rest for you. I will submit the digital file directly to your school yearbook coordinator before the due date. Please keep this in mind when choosing a date for your session, that we will need at least 3 weeks turnaround time before the yearbook image is due.
I tend to be a relaxed and flexible person, but I also understand that some people can be nervous in front of the camera. I will start out by asking you some questions so that it gives me some insight into your personality. I want this session to be about you, I focus on your best features and work with you to find your comfort zone. I will be chatting with you throughout the session so that being photographed will not feel awkward to you. I work hard to make it an enjoyable time so you will feel relaxed and at ease during your session.
The tone of your head shot will be set by your expression, background, and lighting, but your clothes play a significant supporting role in defining who you really are.
First and foremost, choose clothes that are comfortable and fit you well. No amount of retouching will make the shirt that’s two sizes too small or two sizes too big look right on you. Avoid patterns and logos, that are too busy. They draw attention from your face. Pay attention to the neckline of your outfits, making sure the neckline is not too low. Clothes should be clean and pressed. It’s worth the trouble to iron your shirt, as sometimes it can be difficult to retouch wrinkles on your clothes Bring several different tops to your session in a variety of colors, collars/necklines and styles. Some collars and sleeves can look funky if the image is cropped tightly. If you are self conscious about your arms, avoid wearing sleeveless tops. Some shots will be close up and some will be 3/4 or full length. So pay attention to what you are wearing on the bottom. Mix it up, Something dressy, something casual, something in between. Accessories for the girls (scarves, belts, jackets, head bands)are fun, but make sure they define who you are. Shoes are important for both the guys and the girls. Old run down sneakers will not look good with a dressy outfit and they may be in some of the images.
Choose colors to complement your face and not distract from it. Most people look good in mid-tones (blue, green, brown). Not everyone looks good in white and be careful when choosing paler colors up against your skin tone (beige,tan,peach) sometimes are fine. For fair skin and blue eyes, try pinks, blues and grays. For green eyes, try browns, greens, cranberry and burnt orange. If you have medium or dark skin and brown eyes, most colors are okay, but avoid those that closely match your skin tone as there may not be enough contrast. Guys the plaid shirts are a nice option if you like that look. Send me a picture of yourself so I can help you with your choices.
The Rest of You
Makeup: Makeup is important for the girls. You will want to do your makeup fresh before your session. Don’t over-do, but apply it so that it looks natural. If you do not feel comfortable wearing makeup and it is not a part of your daily routine, that is fine too. Bring your lip color with you so we can be sure you have it for touch-ups.
Hair: There is no magic button in photoshop for making your hair look it’s best. So please pay attention to how you want to style it a few days before your session. Avoid haircuts and color at least one-two weeks before. Guys, be careful shaving to avoid cuts and redness, it is preferred you do not shave right before the session.
2 days before: Drink lots of water, avoid lots of caffeine and stay out of the sun. Sun burn cannot be retouched. Girls remember to moisturize. I can touch up acne and pimples, so try not to focus on that.
The night before: Get a good nights sleep because tired eyes do not make for a nice portrait. Press clothes and have makeup and outfits all ready to bring with you to your session. Bring at least 2-3 outfits with you to your session. If you have more and are unsure just bring them along and we can decide when we meet up.
The day of your session: Arrive on time. I schedule my sessions early evening around the time frame that the sun is low in the sky and to capture the evening sunset as back lighting. So it is essential that we keep the appointment moving along before the sun actually sets and it gets too dark.
I will be taking a variety of poses, always with the goal in mind of capturing a natural smile, look and expression. You will receive a gallery of around 50-75 images. Some of the images I will create may look more artistic and some will be more appropriate for the yearbook. I assure that you will have plenty of options to choose the most appropriate image for your yearbook. But remember, it is not just about the yearbook here, it is also about finding the best pieces of art for your walls.
Relax & have fun. Every senior I have photographed in the past has truly enjoyed their session with me, even if it takes a little bit to warm up and feel relaxed, that is okay.
By the time the session is done I am confident that we will have captured some special images of your senior that you will love to use as artwork for your walls as a reminder of this priceless transition in their lives.
If you would like to book a session with me, please complete the contact form on my website . Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
And remember, you are beautiful already, let me help you see it, through my lens.
Our business session was fun, she was a middle aged woman, spunky, blond and easy going, with a collection of eye glasses that matched each outfit she brought along with her. She had a kind heart, very easy to talk to and extemely professional in her business. We nailed the session after combing through an arrangement of outfits and chose the ones that would work best with her skin tone and bring out her unique style. She was very happy with how relaxed the session was and the outcome of the images. I softened the wrinkles, brightened the teeth, removed stray hairs and blemishes and finished off with an added sparkle to her already gorgeous eyes.
For two days I have been stewing about the words she emailed to me after she receiving her final digital files. “This was such a fun photo shoot, now I need to put these photos to work for me, the problem is, I really just don’t enjoy looking at photos of myself.” She loved my work, it had nothing to do with that, it was coming from an internal place of not loving herself. I hear this time and time again from women mostly. They do not like to see photos of themselves. But why is this? I tell my clients I am not going to make them look 20 or 30 years younger through photoshop because that would not be a realistic photo of them and it would go against my own truth by doing so.
Why do we really want to be 20 years younger? Do we want to repeat that phase of our lives? Or are we that afraid of aging and seeing ourselves in this new light? Are we never going to be happy with ourselves and our bodies and how we look? Why can’t we, especially women, think of our wrinkles as evidence of a life well lived? After all, it already took you so long to earn your wrinkles. What message are we sending to our youth or our loved ones when we look at our photo and say, ugh, I don’t like looking at myself.
“Please don’t retouch my wrinkles, it took me so long to earn them.”
As women we hold onto those things we thought of ourselves as children, things others may have said about us. We take those comments and opinions from others to heart and file them into a place in our minds where we can so conveniently pull them out when needed. You are NOT what someone else thinks of you. You are NOT defined by other people’s opinions.
Yes I’d like to lose the 15-20 pounds that has accumulated over the years, probably since giving birth to my girls. And yes there are features that I grew up not liking about myself. Those beliefs carried over into my adulthood and it took many years to see myself in a new light, to actually love how God made me. Perfectly me, and no one else. And it is still a work in progress. We all need to strive to love ourselves first before we try to love someone else. Accept yourself for who you are and what you look like both inside and out.
I can’t help but think back to all the senior portraits I did this past summer of young women who are on the verge of entering adulthood. Some of the common statements I heard were; “my arms are too big” or “I look ugly” or “my nose is too big” or ‘”my smile is crooked” or “my forehead is large”. Whatever the comment may be, most women and girls are just not accepting of their physical appearances. We all know that girls and women are influenced each and every day by media comparison. We seem to be looking for some construed idea of what a perfect body and face should look like. We are all uniquely and individually created, and that, is beautiful in itself. We ARE perfectly imperfect.
Today I stop and take a break for a cup of tea, as I start to pour the water, I notice the saying on the end of the string….
“In the beginning is you, in the middle is you and in the end is you.”
Think about that. You are all you have in this lifetime. You were created perfectly you in the eyes of your creator. You are supposed to look exactly as you are. Embrace who you are. Love what you look like. Take care of your body and mind. For it is only you in the beginning, in the middle and in the end.
“You don’t need a mirror to see your beauty”
I emailed my middle aged client back, stating that she was a beautiful woman inside and out and hoped that she would see that in herself. She in turn told me that I was good for her ego and that my work was beautiful. I do hope she soon realizes that she is the ultimate reason they came out beautiful. I can only duplicate what my lens sees on the other side.
My wish for you is that you won’t let another year pass you by where you do not embrace who you are inside and out.
Let me help you see yourself in a new light through my lens.
I love hearing people’s stories of who they are and how they got to where they are today. I love to hear about both the good and the bad and the challenges they may have faced along the way that makes them exactly the person they are today.
Stories are what makes each of us unique in our own way. You never know how your story might inspire someone else. Be real and true when it comes to telling your story. Do not inflate it or deflate it. I know some people like to exaggerate their stories for the sake of getting publicity or affirmation that they are good enough or did enough. Stay true to who you are: the good, the bad and the mediocre. Our stories are authentic if only told in truth because there is no one else who can live your story or tell your story like you, the author. Remember you are the hero of your own story.
I would like to tell our story to you now. The story of us.
My husband and I are married 25 years today. It is a milestone year for sure. Not just 25 years of routine daily chores like paying the bills, doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, driving kids around town, mowing the lawn, fixing the house and folding the laundry. Although at times it may seem like that encompasses most of our days, it is 25 years of us, together, in it for the long haul, a for better or worse kind of love. It is 25 years of seeing each other at our best and seeing each other at our worst and still sticking together. It is the kind of marriage where, yes, we can get irritated at each other for silly things that can even ruin our entire day. We can also be super stubborn at times but we both would do anything when it comes to family and the two beautiful daughters we created along this journey.
It is 25 years of ups and downs. No white picket fences. No maids or servants who do all the work. A perfectly imperfect marriage. I believe we have an authentic marriage, a committed marriage and a faith-filled marriage. It is true that sometimes we can get so busy taking care of life that we forget to take care of our love. We didn’t get married so we could have a long list of chores. But like most marriages, it sometimes seems like that is what fills our days.
I got married because I was madly in-love and couldn’t imagine life without him. I got married because my heart skipped a beat every time I saw him. I couldn’t wait to tie the knot and build a life with this incredible person God had miraculously brought into my life.
This week reminds me of all the reasons I married my husband. And telling my story brings me back to that time before I realized that marriage is not an easy breezy let’s just tie the knot and see how things go kind of thing. It takes work, it takes strong faith, it takes dedication, it takes commitment above and beyond, sometimes 110% each. I can tell you that when I said I would marry my husband in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I knew I would never break that promise and that still is my truth 25 years later on to this day.
Our story began back in the late 1980’s when my husband (who is 5 years younger than I), worked on our family farm in upstate NY as a hired hand. I had been at college on and off for a good part of this duration when he made his routine trips back and forth on his 3-wheeler while working for my dad. His family lived just a couple miles from our farm. My dad once told me that he had been there looking for me and waiting for my arrival home from college. I thought he was the funniest, wittiest, smartest young man with an adorable baby face. a great laugh and a great smile, sort of like a younger brother to me. A pivotal moment for me was when my dad said to me, “Patrick would make you a good husband one day”. I about fell to the floor because he truly was like a little brother to me and I was already well into my 20’s. I guess you could say that I “robbed the cradle” as he was just in his late teens.
When I returned home after graduating from college, I fell into a lull where I was without a job, living at home with my parents, wondering where life would take me next. This was the silver lining part of my life that I didn’t see or understand until later on. I was stuck living at home with my parents, with no job and a big student loan lurking above me. We used to hang out during this period of time. We developed a friendship where we would ride the horses and pick sweet corn together, help with the haying and just hang out at the farm. I couldn’t get those words that my father said out of my head, “he would make you a good husband one day”! I must admit, father did know best!
We dated for 5 years, and while he went off to college, I landed a couple of different jobs along the way, moving out of town and eventually ending back together when we got married in October 1993. It wasn’t easy having a long distance relationship in two different parts of the state, in two difference phases of life, but it was well worth every challenge we had along the way and I wouldn’t change a thing. My job relocated us to Pennsylvania for our first year of marriage. It was a tough transition as we worked opposite shifts with no family around. Eventually his job moved us back north to New Hampshire, much closer to family where we raised our beautiful daughters and continue to live as they head off to college and enter adulthood.
My husband is a strong, authentic, hard working, faith-filled, handsome man filled with integrity and many talents. He would do anything for his family, for his friends and for God.
Our story continues on and we hope it inspires others, especially our daughters, to have faith that God, in His time, will bless them each with an incredible person who will help them to write the story of their lives.
I love him and I love us.
October 9, 1993 Our Wedding Day
October 9, 2018 -25 years married
And I am looking forward to growing old with him throughout the next 25 chapters.
As my daughter turns twenty on this day, I write this letter, in honor of her, as she dives into the twenty-something decade. I write this to remind her of some important aspects of life which I learned along the way. I thought when she reached the age of 18, which they say is ‘official adulthood’, that the upcoming years would be easier to wrap my head around. Very far from the truth for me. I wrote about her the year she graduated high school (click here to read) and in the blink of an eye, she is a junior in college.
Today I celebrate my daughter. The beautiful young woman I birthed twenty years ago today. Today I celebrate her for who she is right now. With no expectations of who she will be in another 20 years. Today I celebrate her and how much she has learned about life since she turned 18 just two years ago. And I am proud to be called her mom.
Remember these twenty things as you enter a whole new decade of twenty-somethings:
Life is a series of choices, each and every moment. The choices you make today will affect you tomorrow and the day after.
Let go of expectations. The you of yesterday will not always be the you of today. Change is inevitable. Change is good. Go with that flow of change.
Let go of the “status quo”. It will tell you what you should be doing instead of listening to your own heart. Social media drives this. Approach with caution.
Guard your heart. You have experienced your own broken heart moments but have learned and lived through it and grown wiser and stronger through loving and losing.
Give yourself room to grow. Don’t hold onto too tightly the idea of who you should be. There will be some days you will be confused on who you are, that is okay. Be gentle on yourself. You are still learning. But keep your core values close to your heart and soul and growing up won’t be so scary. Refer to them when you get confused.
Choose friends wisely. It is better to have one friend than 6 friends who are not authentic or suck the life out of you. You have learned this throughout your first two years of college. Walk away from those who bring you down, talk behind your back, who only care about themselves or are toxic to your authentic self. Friends are ever changing and the friends you have in college most likely will not be the friends you have 5 years from now. People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When someone walks away or changes remember they probably were only supposed to stay in your life for a reason or a season. One day you will know who your lifetime friends will be.
Life is a journey. Meet new people, try a new club, immerse yourself in a variety of new groups and situations that look interesting to you, but remember you are the navigator. You can define the route and choose how you’ll get to the next stop by doing the next right thing and staying on course with your core values.
Love others, but do so while respecting your boundaries. This is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn and something that I think continues until we die.
Love yourself. We must love ourselves first before we love others. If we don’t love ourselves, then we don’t respect ourselves, and then love doesn’t get beyond the surface.
Share your gifts and talents. We all have something we are good at. God gave each and everyone of us a unique gift, or talent. It is your duty to find it and use it.
Have compassion for others. You don’t know what the other person is going through or what struggles they are dealing with in any given moment. Learn to work with others. You will spend a lifetime communicating and working with other people of various personalities. Learn how to channel the different personalities. Don’t let someone else’s crappy mood ruin yours.
Take care of yourself. Self-care is so important to your well being in this life. You have learned this over the past two years by adjusting your sleep and diet habits. Continue to do so and you will feel so much better going through the rough patches.
Unplug from social media for a good part of each day. It will suck the life out of you. You have learned this already.
Choose family. When you have to make some of life’s biggest choices and decisions, they will always steer you down the best path. They love you unconditionally.
Choose happiness. Do what you need to do to keep small moments of joy in your life each day. Spend time in nature. Go for walks.
Know that fear is a liar. It will hold you hostage and prevent you from taking the next step in life.
Be kind. Kindness and compassion will get you further in life than being rude or hateful.
Stay humble. There is too much narcissism in this world today. Humility is a stronger characteristic than a person who is narcissistic. The world doesn’t revolve around you.
– And remember to love God with all your heart mind and soul. That is one thing I know for sure will get you further in life than anything else.
In this very dark world that can sometimes get the best of us, I find it critical that we must always strive to find the light. For me this applies to both my professional and personal life.
Finding the light is a part of my business. If I do not have adequate lighting during a portrait session, then I cannot obtain the best possible image. It will appear dark and murky and the subjects eyes do not light up. It is something that is always on my mind when planning for a shoot. Just as location is important to a realtor, the light is very important to a photographer.
Part 1: Finding the light in my work
I am always looking for the light, and playing around with the direction my subject is facing. If you are facing a large wooded area, your face will be wrapped in darkness. If you are facing a wide open sky, your face will be wrapped in the light.
Here are some ways to help find the light when taking someones photo:
When inside, position your subject near a window or doorway so that the light from outside will light their face. Take time to re-position them to find the best lighting, you will see catch lights in their eyes when the lighting is good. You may need to try the opposite side of the house depending on the time of day.
If outside, position your subject’s face away from trees and large buildings, these all can shadow the face. This can be accomplished many times by simply turning them around to face the better lit area and that may make all the difference in the world.
Baseball caps will always cause a shadow on the face, have your subject turn the cap around so you can more easily see their eyes.
Use a reflector. You can use a large white foam board as a home made reflector, position this board out in front of the subjects face and adjust until you see the light bounce back into their face (having a buddy hold this helps)
In winter, snow acts as one large natural reflector, have your subject stand and sit in the snow making sure that there is a lot of snow in front of them or near a large snow bank.
In summer, the lake or ocean act as large reflectors. Try to position your subject in an open area by the lake to light up there faces. Walking them out on the dock will help with this. When at the beach, wait to shoot at sunset once you do this you will know why. It is the ‘golden light’ hour.
Use an on camera flash to bounce light off the ceiling so the flash is not directly hitting their face. A direct flash is never the most flattering for anyone.
Keep studying the light at different times of the day. The worst times to shoot outside is mid day 11am-3pm, early morning or late afternoon/early evening are always the most flattering.
Setting up my reflector to bring light into the subjects eyesBringing the subject close to the window to capture the natural lightUsing the reflector to bounce the light back into the subjects face.
Part 2: Finding the light in my personal life
There is so much darkness in our world today. Almost every day we hear about school shootings, drug overdoses, suicides, car accidents, terrorist attacks, someone newly diagnosed with an illness, and the list goes on and on. The key point is, what are we all focusing on? If we keep focusing on the darkness, it just gets darker. If we take our focus off the darkness to search for the light around us, our world gets a little lighter and a little brighter. Sometimes it may be as simple as heading down a different road. Our path to finding the light does not need to be complex. There will always be someone who is worse off than you. Start by reaching out to others. It may come in the form of comforting a grieving friend, smiling at a stranger as you shop for groceries, making a meal for a sick friend, praying for other families who are struggling with a sick child, inviting a lonely friend to lunch, watching an uplifting movie, reading an inspirational book, listening to music that makes you happy or spending the day at the beach with a friend.
It does not take a lot to bring the light into your world and to be the light in someone else’s world.
Here are some things that can help you to find the the light when darkness closes into your own world:
Express gratitude for what you have been blessed with, be grateful.
Be patient with yourself you are only human.
Take good care of yourself it helps let the light come in.
Reach out to others who are struggling, there will always be someone worse off than you.
Choose your battles carefully if something won’t matter 5 years down the road, then don’t spend 5 mins being upset by it.
Have courage during change, be brave.
Be vigilant in all aspects of your life.
Be fearless about banishing all negativity from your life.
Have the confidence when feeling pressured into something to say “ I am better than that”.
Get support from friends and/or professionals.
Be aware of your resistance to change, just because everyone else is doing it; many times the ‘status quo’ is not the light.
Pray, pray, pray as God’s Grace is abundant when you open your eyes and notice all of the small graces that He gives you each day.
Life seems like never enough for many people. We have an instant window into the lives of our peers, family and friends 24/7 through social media. We are able to see their vacations, personal family time, recreational activities, jobs, social life and even the intimate life of dating, etc We then find ourselves comparing our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. This newer generation is exposed to seeing more than we are really supposed to see. Without even realizing it, this creates a sense in them that they are not enough. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not worldly enough. Not doing enough. Not good enough. It’s never enough. They want to be like them. Instead of who they were meant to be. They can fall into a trap of the 3 C’s.
Comparing, Competing and Criticizing.
Why do so many women and girls and even the guys get so caught up in competing with one another, comparing themselves to each other and ultimately criticizing each other? It is an easy trap to fall into. I fell into that trap, without the influence of social media, during my teens and even up until my 30’s when I started the process of raising my children and when I launched my business. Ultimately I learned that their path was not my path.
But what I know now, is the truth, that these 3 C’s hold us back from being who God created us to be: unique individuals with special gifts and a path all our own. If we compare our lives to others around us, we no-doubt try to become like them. If we compete with those around us, we can never settle for what God has already blessed us with. If we criticize those around us, our peers, neighbors, friends or family, we criticize the work that God is trying to do in that person.
Of course, there are the positive aspects to learning and growing through healthy feedback and critiquing so that person can change and learn for the better and grow from that. There is also healthy competition when it is to benefit someone for a good cause. And there are positive comparisons when you have a mentor in your life to look up to. This person helps you to grow and become a better version of yourself. Unfortunately, many times, the positive side of the 3 C’s are often overlooked and turned into a negative process instead.
This is true most especially for the teens who are already under so much pressure to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives as they start the college search.
If I could just say one thing to this younger generation, it would be to look inside your own soul to find out who you are. Find out what makes you happy, what sets you on fire, not what makes everyone else happy on social media. Find a mentor in an area that you are interested in and reach out to them. But more importantly, have faith that God is working in your life. You just have to be patient, listen and open the door to Him.