Vote for yourself

Another oldie but a goodie I thought I had lost in the ruins of my old website…

It's funny what memories stick with you throughout the years. With a good 28 years under my belt, I have a wealth of memories. Yet - there are a handful that I'll periodically relive. They're the kind of memories where you feel all the same emotion you felt when it happened - as if it were happening all over again. You know what I'm talking about. 

I believe we hold onto these memories because they're defining moments for us - often defining our insecurities. One of these memories in particular for me was the Swim Team Captain election my Senior year of high school. We had five Seniors and four available spots for captain - two girls and two guys. Since we had three girl Seniors, it was assumed one of the girls would not make the cut. My gut fell a little going into it. 

You see, in high school, I was never really part of the popular crowd. I leaned more on the chameleon side of things - someone who was in many clubs, honors classes, varsity sports, and yet just a good kid. Never really partied. Never got into trouble. So when this election came around and I was up against two of the popular girls, I felt nervous as hell. 

To my surprise, after the ballots were in, we had to have a re-vote between me and one of the other girls (the third girl was a shoe-in - she was the fastest Senior on our team). My instinct going into the vote was to assume I would lose, and so I voted for the other girl to make it easier on myself. I actually had to physically raise my hand to vote for her (an eyes shut kind of thing). Once we opened our eyes, the teacher told us that we tied again. Immediately, it occurred to me - if I had voted for myself - I would have won. 

After realizing that, I believed in myself a little more. Maybe it was the validation from knowing that other people believed in me. Maybe it was the shame from having not believed enough in myself in the first place - trying to take myself out of the race. I learned quickly, and the second voting round, I voted for myself. 

It was another tie, and we decided to just have five captains that year instead of four. Still, I hold onto that memory because I so often try to take myself out of the race for the fear of failure. Photography is a perfect example of that. As someone who is self-critical enough as it is, it's frightening to put my work out into the interspace cloud for all others to see. I'm afraid of not being good enough. I'm afraid of being exposed to ridicule. I feel like if I pre-set myself up as a failure, I'll meet others' expectations. I'll meet my own subpar expectations. 

That. Sucks. It's a dirty lie, and - thankfully - I see it starting to dissolve.  

I think of that Elle Woods speech at the end of Legally Blonde where she says:

"You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself."

I love that about Elle - she's fearless. There is no fear of insufficiency, failure, or critique within her because she believes she can do it. She has faith in and invests in herself. What a marvelous concept. 

I started asking myself again today what my dream is. What my craziest, wildest, bring-tears-to-my-eyes-every-day dream would be. And then, I asked God for it. 

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  Matthew 7:7

Oh mercy, how I've seen this played out in my life and how I whole-heartedly agree. We're given different gifts for a reason. Let's never shy away from indulging them and giving them back in this life. 

It's amazing to imagine what we're capable of with a little more faith and a little less fear. Whatever you're afraid of doing, I hope you start taking steps toward it. I hope you believe in yourself and believe that with time, character, and hard work - you can do it. 

A younger Lauren - bright-eyed and about 25 years old - unaware of what journeys and wild rides lay ahead of her.

A younger Lauren - bright-eyed and about 25 years old - unaware of what journeys and wild rides lay ahead of her.

Lauren Odderstol