Are you an introvert who struggles with social anxiety during your photography sessions? Check out these tips on how to reframe your thinking and find your superpower!
I’m socially awkward.
My best friend is a horse.
He’s great. Doesn’t talk. Lets me be myself. We both like watermelon.
Get me in front of another human being, and I usually crumble into a mess of words like “hi, I’m Smelly, s#&$, no, KELLY. K.E.L.L.Y.”
AND DO NOT ASK ME TO BE IN A LARGE GROUP AND EXPECT ME TO PARTICIPATE. (I may actually die.)
I simply do not comprehend extrovert brains.
I am an introvert.
Needless to say, I really didn’t think this whole “photography” thing through before jumping in.
However, after a few years of being filled with crippling anxiety before sessions (well, and in LIFE), I’ve realized that I needed to get out of my head and reframe what I’ve been telling myself.
Here are a few tips that may help you realize being an introvert is cool (or at least judge yourself a little less).
#1: Ditch the labels (all of them)
When we define ourselves as (dumb, ugly, insert BS here), it usually comes with a WHOLE LOTTA’ other stuff attached.
What other types of characteristics do you associate with an introvert?
- Socially awkward
- A loner
- Probably a wall-flower
- Maybe they sit at home and eat crayons, who knows.
Look at all those LABELS (none of which are remotely positive, may I point out)!
Think of it this way: you simply like being alone, or with a few chosen people who you feel “get” you. Ditch the label.
THAT IS OK.
Think of your “introvertedness” as a BENEFIT to your photography! It likely means that you connect MUCH deeper on a 1-1 level, and can give your client a really meaningful experience that will have them recommending you to everyone.
#2: Stop judging every single thing that comes out of your mouth
Whatever you say, at the exact moment you say it, is perfect and OVER. You don’t need to stay awake until 3 am stressing about the one thing you said was possibly, maybe, potentially offensive.
But do you know what’s even better than not judging that word vomit? Being fully yourself. Oh, and not calculating every sound you expel from your pie hole to meet some created expectation.
Because guess what?
No matter how hard you try, people’s perceptions belong to them (and more often than not, they’ll get it wrong anyway).
Stop ASSUMING that others are going to judge you. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU.
Slow down, I’m not trying to be an a-hole.
Sure, some people care about you, but a majority of people, are probably too busy judging themselves. And if they ARE judging you, that is far more reflective of where they themselves are in life.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” -Wayne Dyer
So maybe think about this when you start judging someone else.
Fun story: I’ve worn the same shirt for almost two years (as a woman…gasp), and not ONE person has said anything. Why? Because they don’t give a s#&$.
So when it comes to your work, clients are FAR more likely to be concerned about their outfit choice, if their kids (or husband) are going to throw a fit, or whether you have noticed they forgot to brush their teeth.
Once you let go of the fear of that external judgment, you can float around the world as if no one sees you, but in the BEST way. That vision does lend itself to a bit of freedom, doesn’t it?
*Super Power Wish Granted:* YOU ARE INVISIBLE! Yehaw!
#3: Watch your ego
You know, that super cool roommate in your head that says really mean stuff to you almost constantly? Yea, that dude.
Me before a session: “Here we go again, another photography session! I bet you’ll say something dumb! Why do you even book these darn things, you are so awkward and never actually make funny jokes. Who are you doing this for anyway? These people are going to think you’re a horrible photographer. Just stay in bed.”
Me AFTER a session: “They were SO nice. I would totally be friends with them in real life! Would it be weird to add them on Facebook? Probably. *Adds on Facebook.* That was so fun! Maybe I should invite them to coffee sometime!”
“Wait. I’m confused. YOU ARE AN INTROVERT!!!!!” – Jerky Roommate
Like, would you actually stand in front of a real-life person who said things like that to you???
By paying attention to the things you tell yourself, maybe you can start consciously replacing the negative crap with positive messages.
Like, “you’re doing a great job! I know you’re nervous, but everything will be phiiiine.”
#4: Get to know yourself
Welcome to self-awareness 101.
When we really get to know ourselves and our thoughts, we learn who we are and can better define what is a fear versus what is just WHO WE ARE (and need to love).
Let me break that down a little further with an example.
One of my earliest memories was being dropped off at summer camp. I felt like I had been abandoned one of Jupiter’s moons, with my lunchbox and Bull Frog sunscreen. I was terrified.
I’m not blaming my parents…but I’m blaming them.
Games. Noise. Itchy grass. Rainbow parachute activities. Overly enthusiastic counselors with tye-dye shirts. OTHER CHILDREN.
Pure. YMCA. Hell.
I was not equipped to process any of this.
It was a LONG summer. A summer of feeling totally unsafe, scared, alone, and like I was going to poop in my pants if anyone asked me to fill up a water balloon.
So what does this have to do with labeling myself as an introvert?
Because I find that I automatically revert back to that scared child when I get into groups larger than three.
I sweat. I don’t know what to say. And immediately start looking around for rainbow parachutes and water balloons.
But really, all those feelings are buried somewhere in compartment 294,586,492.3 of my hippocampus, and they just LOVE to be accessed on a daily basis. The difference is, I have the space to see it now (sometimes, maybe).
(Look, I can still be super awkward on Zoom meetings…so I’m no self-help life coach.)
I’m not saying you have to have this life-changing existential crisis over this blog, but I think it may be useful to ask yourself where some of these feelings *may be coming from.
In this case, what I thought was an introverted “characteristic” was actually just good ‘ole fear.
Remember that your clients hired you FOR YOU. Out of all the introverted and extroverted photographers in the world, they chose your beautiful soul.
#5: Think of the positives
Instead of looking at yourself as a collection of labels, think about all the positives that you bring to the world and to your clients by way of your thoughtfulness.
- You are probably insightful and compassionate.
- You are in tune with what is going on around you.
- You likely listen to your intuition.
- You connect on a deep level with others.
- You are empathetic.
- People likely look to you for insight.
- You listen more than you talk.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really grateful to have some of these traits!
Please, please, please stop judging yourself whether you’re an introvert OR an extrovert. It’s time to accept that you are a perfectly imperfect soul who is just doing their best. We love you, your clients love you, and YOU need to love you, too, introvertness and all!
-Hugs from your neighborhood weirdo, Kelly
Written by KELLY ACS | Photographs by ASHLEY MAURA via Two Bright Lights