I had no idea what I was about to uncover about myself.
I had everything set up. The lights, the camera, the tripod. I don’t even know why I felt so called to do this, but the idea was not letting up.
I mean, who takes photos of themselves? That’s super conceited, don’t you think? These thoughts were occupying my mind, veering me away from taking the shot. “I don’t want people to know that I know I’m pretty.”—another jab to the self-worth, more reminders to stay small.
But this time I was rising up against the voices. Rising up against the years of self-deprecating thoughts that were telling me no, you can’t do that, you don’t look like that, you can’t create that, you shouldn’t put yourself out there like that. I was rising up above all that and letting myself explore the girl who was afraid to really see herself.
Who am I? What is lying beneath all of this? What if I take the shot and hate what I see? What if I love it? What does that mean?
I had to know what I could see when I just let myself go. When I let go of the image of who I thought I was and explored the many facets of who I am.
So in my usual fashion, I started with nude photos—why not go all in, right? I wanted to see what my body looked like when I wasn’t rushing. When I could test the elements of my inner being. At the time I didn’t know that’s what I was doing, I was just being led by my curiosity. I was curious about myself and if I could translate the emotion I was feeling into something tangible.
When we are willing to really see ourselves, we open up a universe within the self.
As I started clicking and checking, clicking and angling, clicking and feeling, clicking and seeing—I started to see what my inner being knew all along.
I was beautiful.
And not in that “oh look at me, I’m so pretty!” way.
My soul was beautiful. My light was beautiful. My eyes were beautiful. My breasts were beautiful. My skin was beautiful. My form was beautiful.
I had never done anything like this before, but the more pictures I took the more I fell in love with myself. I was never really planning on sharing these images (not all of them are nude) but the more I started exploring the ways in which I could express my truth through a selfie, I knew I’d stumbled across something about my expression that I was not willing to give up for anything. It felt good to know that I was something special, and I didn’t need to hear it from anyone.
I could never have foreseen this. I could never have known that taking these selfies would allow me to take my writing to a whole new level, create my website for my online business, and connect with people over Instagram based on the message these photos convey.
How often have you really wanted to try something but didn’t out of fear of what someone might think? How many times have you wanted to do something for the pure enjoyment of it but stopped yourself because it wasn’t “productive”?
Following our inspiration doesn’t always have to be about impact—it can start off as just for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing personal, quiet growth or self-discovery.
If you’re so inspired, remember that this is a process. Be kind to yourself, or you may find a reason to hate what you see. I took a lot of photos before getting the ones I most appreciated.
It is also important to be gentle with yourself. Every time I step in front of the camera, I know what I’d like to see in the end—the: “oh my goodness, that is amazing!” photo. Prior to that point, there are about 10-20 photos to which I lovingly smile. In those moments, shame and self-hate are not welcome to join me. In these sessions, I practice self-love.
If you have been feeling the urge to create something just for the joy of creating—do it. Don’t worry about what might come of it—just let yourself explore with no expectation and see where it leads. The more we allow ourselves to explore these impulses, the more grounded and connected we are to a bigger vision that is always unfolding before us.
Author: Cassie Jeans
Image: Author’s Own / Instagram
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Cat Monkman