I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I’m mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I’ve tried all day to keep busy and productive, but it’s not happening. I should clean my house or at least get some homework done but the dishes that I ran through the dishwasher and the newly unclogged kitchen drain area bout all I’ve got in me today. To be honest, it’s not a horrible feeling. It’s not a lupus day or one of those that I’d say that “I’m out of spoons.” I don’t feel sick or that I didn’t rest well and I’m certainly not worried about anything. Truth be told, I blame it on yesterday.
Yesterday was one of those rare amazing days. My doctor’s visit (and I’m not discounting that the new dosage of medication has me feeling a bit slower than normal), I came home to a surprise in the mail- I still don’t know who it’s from exactly, but I’m grateful and I love the gift. I turned my homework in that I had been procrastinating on and got some awesome kudos. I went to vote before class and didn’t even get nervous when my bag had to be searched walking into the City-County building. When I told the guard I had a camera, he wasn’t expecting a decent set up. Turns out he’s interested in photography as well. Small world! We both ended up having a small laugh out of the whole thing. I got my usual coffee and tried not to worry about the critique we would be doing in class later on in the evening.
I’ll admit, I had been stressing over critique night. I am my own worst critic and I always expect to hear the same voices outside of my head that I do from the inside. What do you think you’re doing? Why do you think that this is any good? Where will this get you in life? Be serious now. As much as I hate to say it, I heard it growing up and maybe it’s because I’ve always had this instinct that I should be creating, I took it to heart. That same instinct is what’s kept me going though. That accepts the knocks and setbacks, but then jumps back into the process. Sometimes in a different subject, but always hungry to create.
Everyone in class was to select four photos from the field trip that we took on Saturday. I had poured over mine, asked for feedback, and ultimately went with my gut on what I thought were my best four photos. I still saw the imperfections in each one but I kept trying to remind myself that this is only the beginning. That’s why we’re doing the critique, so that we know where to improve. It didn’t help my anxiety any.
As I sat in class, I saw everyone’s photos before me. I heard the teacher making suggestions and heard the reactions of the class. It was pretty obvious when something just… wasn’t good. There were some well done photos as well, you could see the differences in our visions and application of style. Some people had a better grasp than others. The discussion was in a word, honest. It wasn’t harsh or demeaning, just very, very honest. I felt my pulse get faster the closer to my set that we got. I felt sick. I thought about walking out at least for some fresh air but at the same time, I felt paralyzed and I knew that I had to hear what needed to be said.
I almost didn’t recognize my first photo of a dog when it came up on the screen. The reaction was favorable. The teacher said it was a great shot. Pointed out texture, depth, lighting, all done reasonably well. He asked the class what should be changed. Nothing was the answer. One down, three to go. The second appeared. Detail of a fence. I started hearing rumblings amongst the class. Panic. Then I heard what they were saying. That they liked how I’d isolated the detail. That it was well balanced. What should be changed? Nothing. Then there was my squirrel photo. Ok. I’m ready for the negativity here. I’ve gotten halfway through my set and it’s been good so let’s go. I’m ready. The teacher pointed out my composition. How it mirrored something we’d discussed in class. Said it was an excellent shot. What should be changed? Not a thing. My last photo was one of a string of colored lights. The minute it came up, it was like a room full of people was watching a fireworks displays. “Oooh” and “Ahhh” and “Wow- where was this?” Again, what should be changed? Nothing.
Four photos. All nothing but positive remarks from both the teacher and the class. And nothing. NOTHING should be changed about them. I had other classmates as we were leaving compliment me on my set. Someone commented that mine was the only set that hadn’t had any recommendations for any of my four photos. How had I done such and such? And I don’t know. I just saw what I saw and I pushed the button.
When I got home, I reviewed the photos. I tried to be as objective as I could. They aren’t bad. I chose a good set. I was high on caffeine and adrenaline. Trying to process the positivity I had encountered. It’s bad when not only do you have trouble accepting the criticism but also the praise. Add that to the list of things I need to work on, yeah? I fought the doubt. The inner voice telling me that everyone had taken it easy on me because they could tell I was nervous. Everyone in that room was nervous. It wasn’t just me. Some people didn’t even speak up when their set began. I didn’t want to, but I did. And I’m glad I did.
My head is still spinning from all of it. I’m still processing. I’m still trying to accept that maybe, just maybe I’ve found something creative that I could be good at.