Sometimes you just have to give in. You might not like it but something has to be done. You might have been trying to avoid it like the plague but the moment comes when you just cannot sidestep it any longer. Know the feeling? It’s what a lot of my clients feel before they take the plunge and ask me to be their Critical Friend, but that is not what I am talking about on this occasion.
So what have I been avoiding?
Having my photograph taken. Now in the age of the phone camera this has not been easy. We have all become ‘photographers’; so busy capturing the moment and sharing it with the world via social media we are at risk of forgetting to live it.
Oh dear, I am being grumpy. I am getting older and as I look in the mirror my mother looks back at me. My glory days are gone. And now my legs don’t work any longer my constant companion is either a wheelchair or a tiny scooter. It is not the best look! I tend to be the one taking the photo – anything to stay behind the camera, rather than being in front of it.
Yes I am being vain. I don’t like feeling like this but I do; so I avoid being photographed and looking at myself whenever possible.
Yes I am being a wimp. The person who has least idea of how they actually look is the person themselves. A brief glance in a shop window or catching sight of yourself in an unexpected mirror can be a shock. And for most women all we see are the bits of us we most dislike. We can name the feature in a moment. Ask us what we like about ourselves and wait a very long time for an answer.
Now all of this is nonsense. I often say to clients what is the worst thing that could happen? In this case I just have to come to terms with not looking as I used to. And the truth is, the way I look now is the story of a life led and enjoyed. People look at each other all the time but they like you for what you are, your personality and your spirit, not what you look like.
However, I concede, for people who do not know us, a photograph or piece of video has massive power. I have a lovely new website but it sports an old photograph with an out of date hairstyle and hair colour; this is not me and makes no business sense but it has done the job……up until now. At last I have confronted my irrational feelings (something I urge my clients to do regularly) and recognised that I need some photographs as a marketing tool. This is quite an achievement.
So how to do it? Apparently I look much better when I am talking to people – well who doesn’t, and I work with people all the time, so it is not natural to see me on my own. Bearing this in mind I enlisted the help of a trusty photographer and headed to the Bedford SME Expo, intent on killing two birds with one stone – networking and photo-shooting! Bedford’s International Athletic Stadium was transformed, not a sweaty athlete in sight and so we got down to business. There were a number of stands showcasing a variety of businesses and there was a plethora of photographers snapping away, including my very own, Jen Cooper.
And what did I do? I ignored the camera completely; I trolled around the stalls and caused a certain amount of chaos every time I stopped; my scooter and I were enough to bring the aisles to a state of gridlock; and I had lots of great conversations with friends, colleagues and associates old and new. Business in Bedford is vibrant and fun.
I would love to tell the fairy tale ending and say the shots made me realize I am not so bad but that would not be true. It took me three days to get up enough courage to look at them and when I confronted them I hated them. So I turned to my friends and asked them what they thought. I am told the shots are fine; in fact some are great or even lovely. You can judge for yourself.
I remain surprised at how I look. I suspect that my horror at the idea of Botox is now less strong – where did I get those lines? I have given myself a gold star and am bathed in the glow of a job done. It won’t hold me back any longer. More importantly my business will step forward because I made the effort; and I enjoyed the energy generated at the Beds SME Expo and made some interesting connections. Most importantly of all, I confronted my demons; I gave myself a good talking to and did the thing I have been dreading and the world did not stop. Self-help Critical Friend style!