There’s a great line from a Van Zant song that goes, “It’s better to be hated for who you are than be loved for who you’re not.” That pretty much sums me up!
I was raised to use my voice. In my mom’s opinion, there was no problem or situation that couldn’t be conquered or worked out as long as everyone knew what was going on. She was a big believer in letting people know what was on her mind and she expected others to let her know what was on theirs. She always encouraged me to let her know how I was feeling, what I was thinking and the why of it all. Mom was always very honest with me when I was growing up. If she was angry at me for something, she explained it to me in detail. If she was proud, she let me know it – both with words and with lots of hugs and kisses. If she felt that I was heading for disaster or making a big mistake, she made sure I knew about it. Did I always listen to her? Of course not. Did it hurt to hear that I was acting like a brat or to hear that my behavior made her feel ashamed? Of course. But I always knew where she stood and she always knew what was going on in my mind and heart because she was such a good encourager of communication.
I’m writing this entry with a specific reason in mind, but as I’m writing, all of these classic idioms keep popping into my mind. The truth hurts. The truth shall set you free. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, etc. I realized long ago that very few people enjoy hearing the truth about themselves. I am proud to say that I am not one of those people. Chances are, if someone you know says something about your behavior or your attitude and it makes you angry or hurts your feelings, there is probably at least a hint of truth to it – it may not be a truth about you and it may shed light about the other person, but the truth is always there just waiting for someone to figure it out. Most of the time when people inadvertently say things that we take the wrong way, they usually don’t mean to hurt us – they are most likely just trying to get us to look at a situation from their point of view. I have no problem when people tell me exactly how they are feeling because even if I’m hurt or angered by it, it reminds me to look closely at myself and evaluate my behavior. I appreciate these moments because they help me to grow as a person and to make adjustments if they are needed. How can that be a bad thing? I wish more people would see it this way and spend more time being honest with each other instead of keeping things inside and sweeping important moments under the rug.
I believe that keeping things to yourself just to avoid conflict or because you may hurt someone’s feelings is NOT a good way to foster good relationships. How can you even have a good relationship with someone if the entire thing is based on half truths and hidden feelings?
I’ll give you an example of how somebody’s negative comments forced me to evaluate myself and how they ended up helping me considerably. A few years ago, when I was working on getting my photobook business off the ground (before I even started out in photography), I made an appointment with a reasonably new and young photographer in this area. My intention was to show him my work and see if he had any tips for me or if he would be interested in hiring me to make his photobooks for him. This particular photographer was certified in Photoshop (just like me) and had been a photoshop tech before becoming a photographer, so I immediately felt we had something in common. I went to see him very light hearted and full of anticipation – sure he was going to see something great in my books and looking forward to hearing his opinions. It was a nightmare. He glanced at two of my books for about 10 seconds and spent the entire time pointing out the flaws in the pictures (which I hadn’t even taken), before he pulled out a bunch of his own books and spent 45 minutes telling me that I would never make it in this town because his books were “better than anything I could ever create” and his photography “blew all other photographers in town out of the water” because he was “so much better at photoshop than any of the others” and “none of them had half the talent he had”. (I’m not making this up, I even wrote nearly the entire conversation in my journal when I got home from the meeting). I told him about another idea I was toying with that involved taking pics of kids and then using their pics to create storybooks starring the kids as the main characters and using photoshop to create the books. He immediately jumped on that idea and spent another 15 minutes telling me that it was the better idea and that if I “ever want to have a business that survives in Kamloops” then I should go with that idea because he’d basically cornered the market for photography and books and I needed to offer something different.
I left that meeting feeling totally defeated and crushed – my ego was completely deflated and I was ready to toss the towel after just one meeting. It hurt that he just casually dismissed my hard work and creativity and it made me angry that he was so pompous and didn’t seem to have a humble bone in his body. By the time I arrived home (about a ten minute drive), I was fuming inside at how arrogant he was and how easy it was for him to just dismiss me like that. However, it didn’t take long for that anger to reveal a couple of truths – he felt a bit threatened by another person who was just as good at photoshop as he was and he was absolutely correct in saying that my books weren’t as good as his. That was the part that hurt the most – that my books weren’t as good as I’d believed. I hated to think that I wasn’t as amazing as I’d hoped people would think I was, but once I admitted that truth to myself, the wind started to blow back into my sails and my ship once again started skipping happily over the waves. I realized that it wasn’t my book creating skills that lacked talent, it was the pictures inside them. If I could learn to take awesome pictures, I could not only create books for people, but I could also offer to take the pics to put in the books as well. And just like that, the truth redirected my entire plan for business. I went out and bought a DSLR camera a couple of days later and the rest is history.
Here’s my point. If I had gone to see that photographer and he had spent the time telling me that my books were wonderful and that I was very talented, etc., I would have left that meeting and never realized that I had so much more to offer than just photobooks created from other people’s photos. If he would have never said such harshly realistic things to me, I would never have learned the truth – a truth that no one else was brave enough to point out to me (even though I’m sure many of you were thinking it and wanted to). Today, I am SO very grateful for that meeting and for that photographer’s honesty (even as pompous and obnoxious as it was) because it sent me in a much better direction with my business and my life.
I hate to admit this, but I kind of live for those kinds of moments because, even though they often hurt and make me angry, they always make me realize truths about myself and they always bring about a change for the better.
This brings me to my initial comment about it being better to be hated for who you are than be loved for who you’re not. I used to struggle with myself all the time because I knew that telling people what was on my mind often ended in them being angry with me or hurt by something I’d said, etc. I used to wonder if I were a terrible person for not always sensoring myself and for letting people know exactly how I feel. It’s only been in the last six months or so that I’ve learned to accept that I am the type of person who sometimes says things that most people would leave unsaid. I recognize this. I accept it and, most of all, I’m not ashamed of it or of who I am.
I am, in so many ways, my mother’s daughter, and I think she would be proud that I let my voice be heard and also that I still feel regret when that voice causes dissension. My opinions are just that, my opinions and my feelings are just that, my feelings, and feelings are never wrong. Once in awhile, I post a blog entry that some people find upsetting or some people find inappropriate. All I can say to that is that I’d rather you hate me for telling the truth than love me for hiding it or for pretending to be someone I’m not. And, of course, if you don’t like it, you can always choose not to read my blog.
I’ve decided to hold a contest for a free Boudoir or Anytime Shoot for all those wonderful, hard-working moms I know. I’ll be posting the rules for the contest on my blog sometime this week. So, if you’re interested in winning a free shoot with yours truly, stay tuned for more details to come.
Here’s a sneak peak of my next blog entry all about Juno The Wonderdog and our day at the beach.
I wish you all enough…