#leapfear Day 4 – Jessica

About 4 or 5 shots into the session, I turned the camera back towards Jessica to show her.  She started to cry.  She isn’t the first to do that.  She certainly won’t be the last.  That moment when someone sees themselves the way the rest of do, is what draws me the most to photography. I have discovered that I have a super power.  Somehow, when you give me a camera, I can “see” the real you inside the view finder.  Jessica was surprised to see a gorgeous, confident and powerful woman in these photos.  To me, it is just who she is.

It was a little surreal. Throughout our session there were a whole bunch of “me too!” moments!  Just a couple to mention, we both have leather bracelets and our satchels are almost identical.  I just can’t rock a leather jacket nearly as well as she can;)  Jessica wanted to capture a more natural and fun look for her shoot.  I’m thinking we nailed that perfectly.  I am so excited to see her play in the Fringe Festival coming up later this year.  She has taken her ability to leap past her fear and transformed her life through the magic of art.  I cannot overstate how important art of all kinds is for our inner life. I don’t care if is music, literature, plays, paintings, movies or my favourite, photographs. Some of us find it in nature.  But we must all take the time to find the art form that helps us get a little closer to, well, whatever you call that place.  


What changed that made you realize you were living a life of fear?

My past was beginning to catch up to me as everything else around me came crashing down: my best friend wanted nothing to do with me anymore, two friends went off the grid and I had broken another friend’s heart. 2016-02-04_0012.jpgI woke up one morning and realized how many lies I was living and believing; I was on a path of destruction as I was battling depression and BDD (Body
Dysmorphic Disorder). I believed my past traumas were all my fault. And everything happening now was my fault. I think it was the moment I realized I was victim shaming myself that made me realize I was holding myself back from healing and releasing the poison in my life. The poison became chains, bonding me to a negative view of myself and my worth.


Once you realized that you were living a life in fear, what stopped you from moving forward? What held you back for so long?
I realized that it was the fear of telling how I really felt and allowing others to see my vulnerability that kept me in the dark. I was so afraid of judgement that I can still feel the body aches, the headaches, the stress of my mental state that would effect my daily life. I prided myself on my privacy and my ability to shut others out. The people that made me feel judged held me back, and the light at the end of the tunnel seemed farther away.


Once you did take the leap, what did you have to let go of?
I had to let go of people that I thought cared about me but were doing more wrong than good. I had to say goodbye to so many toxic people. My self esteem and my self worth suffered immensely because I let these people see my vulnerability but they were not interested in helping. I had to let go of the notion that my happiness came second and theirs came first. It was hard, but I had to stop letting the wrong people in my life, and soften my heart to those that deserved to be in my life. I had to make amends with my mistakes, say I was “sorry” and forgive those that hurt me. I had to let go of my pride and let old dreams and friendships pass on if I wanted to heal.


Once you let go, what did you find on the other side that was worth taking the leap?
Once I let go, I found a new life in London. I found my dream was creating a theatre company (New Twist), finding the love of my life… but most importantly, did I ever learn to love myself. I started to see myself in the mirror as a validated woman. I saw a woman that wasn’t afraid to take back her life, and confront her past fears and hurt. I am still struggling with BDD and depression, but it’s a better journey facing my fear than living in a prison where the light was fading slowly.


What would you tell someone whose fears are still holding them back?
You know, one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make while trying to heal is letting others dictate to you who you are. And what’s worse is worrying how every decision is going to affect them. It was my biggest fear, but saying “no” at least once and realizing you are not responsible for other people’s happiness was an uplifting experience. I saw so much more beauty in the world, and in myself once I started saying “no” to toxicity and “yes” to living.


Is there anything else you would like to share with people on the blog?
Life is so much more than the people you meet and how they see you. It’s about the places you’ll go, how you respond to a challenge and how to get out of bed when the hurt becomes too much. Once you realize that life is bigger than you, and so is the world, nothing, not even one person’s opinion can hold you back. Not everyone is going to agree with you, not everyone is going to know your story… it’s not your responsibly to make them see you. It’s your responsibility to shine your light and be the salt of the earth.