Aristotle once said, “to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing”. I’m sad to admit that I’ve been aiming to avoid criticism the past few years. I’ve been playing it safe and because of that I haven’t grown as much as I would have liked to.
I’ve had some situations in recent years that have closed me off and while I’m tempted to blame the fact that I clammed up on others, the responsibility stays with me. Yes, I’ve been criticized — judged as less than my worth — but my reaction gave all the power in my life to those who doubt me. And that’s not right.
This past weekend I attended EVO 2012, a conference for woman in social media. Attending the conference with a newborn was challenging and because of the weird place I’m currently in I’m sure I didn’t get as much out of the conference as I could have (and I apologize to anyone who had a glassy-eyed conversation with me).
But it did get me thinking about where I am in my life and where it is I want to be.
I’ve spent a lot of time doing the things that I think I’m supposed to do rather than following the places my heart really wants to lead me. In general, this is in small things, but the problem with small choices is that our life is made up by small moments.
I spent the first 2 days talking myself out of going to the photography workshops. I wasn’t good enough. It was too hard with a baby. It was taking time away from things that I needed to be learning for my business.
So I didn’t go.
And then we spent 2 days learning about passion, and turning your passion into something that can change the world.
We heard from Derreck Kayongo from the Global Soap Project who saw waste as the hotel he stayed in threw away partially used bars of soap. This, to Derreck, as a former African refugee, was unacceptable. He had seen mothers and babies die because of a lack of a simple bar of soap during childbirth. He had seen rough, horrible bars of soap made for the poorest people in the world take away dignity from the people he loved. He found his passion, and he’s using that to change the world. The Global Soap project now takes partially used bars of soap, sanitizes them and forms them into beautiful bars of soap for the people of Africa. Or as Derreck calls them, beautiful bars of dignity for our fellow human beings.
And then we heard from Aaron Sherinian from the UN Foundation talk about Shot at Life, a program that fights vaccine preventable disease in 3rd world countries. I’ve lost a child, so I never take it for granted that my children are healthy. I know how quickly that can change. But I can’t imagine loosing my child to an illness that could have been so easily prevented. Shot at Life is changing the world.
But I can’t change the world. I’m just a mom.
Except that I firmly believe that as moms, we are changing the world everyday, in small ways that can become really big things.
Aaron emphasized that everyday moms with a community can change the world. We have a great community here at Busy Mommy Media and I’m getting the wheels turning in my head to come up with a way that we can make a difference as a group.
But we all have a community. You are part of a family, a local community, a playgroup, a school organization. You have influence.
I’m making a commitment to myself to work harder to find my passion and put it to work. I’d like to challenge all of you to do the same.
I’m starting in small ways though. By Saturday afternoon, despite the rain, despite the fact that my baby was getting cranky and I was feeling a truck load a bit of self doubt, I showed up for the final photography workshop I had signed up for.
Half of life is showing up right?
By just showing up, I met some great people. I learned some great things. And I’m going to work harder to find my passion and stop caring so much about what others think about it.
I learned the value of imperfect photos and how they can help us capture priceless moments. I’ve been guilty of waiting for perfection and I don’t have nearly enough photos of my kids because the house was messy in the background or their clothes didn’t match.
If I waited for perfection, I would miss moments like this:
I have very few pictures of me with my kids. I’m just waiting until I get skinny again.
The problem is, my kids keep getting bigger. And again, I’m missing moments.
I’m not a great photographer. I don’t have dreams of earning a living or awards as a photographer. But I have a passion for it. And that’s what really matters in he end, right?
I always leave EVO with a commitment to be a bit better. I’m hoping to rediscover my voice and stop caring so much about the criticism that may come from a select few. I have a right to my own story and I’m going to try and work up the courage to share more of it.
In the process, I’m hoping to discover the things I am passionate about and use those things to make a difference in the world.
I’m counting on all of you to hold me to that.