On Being “Authentic” –cringe.

by

How many selves can one girl have?

I’m afraid to post this. If you’re reading this, please give me a high-five next time you see me (haha no one actually sees me IRL *slaps knee*) for actually clicking “post”. Here goes…

I want to introduce you to me. All of me. All of the Shaunas. No, I’m not schizophrenic, but I am an ADD, Gemini. Ha.

What am I talking about? Let me try and explain. I’ve been staying away from social media for a few years now because, well, basically I overloaded on it all. On the insincerity; the comparing; the judgement; the over-sharing, the nonsense. The caring about what other photographers thought more than what my clients thought. The constant need for validation. It became too noisy for me and anyone that knows me knows I like solitude and quiet. So yeah, I backed away and in doing so made it easier to hide from you. I love being alone because, hell, I’m great company and no one can mess with me that way. Right? It makes it easier to keep my walls up; my life in neat boxes and feelings safe and tucked away.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about it all and I may be reconsidering. You see, the problem is, I have all of these ideas and things I want to share with you. I have communities I’ve built but they’re completely separated from one another. So many aliases. There’s “photographer Shauna”.. “gamer girl Shauna”.. “ADHD Shauna”.. “fashion junky Shauna”.. “political Shauna”.. “Geek-Shauna” .. etc… etc…I have multiple websites and projects that I’ve started, but I never seem to follow through with, and I think a big reason is that I haven’t been brave enough to be fully me. To share myself and my name, fully and wholly.  I think, “oh God, my friends won’t want to see my bizarre fashion obsession.. my fashion friends have no interest in my gaming fetishes and who in the world in all of these groups wants to hear about my past demon’s, slayed and conquered?”

Maybe I’m afraid of the judgement.

Fuck it, let’s be honest, I am afraid of the judgement. But Brene Brown tells us we need to move through the fear to lead a truly wholehearted life. There is strength in vulnerability. Right? What I’m sure of is that fear keeps me silent. Fear keeps us silent. I use the excuse that I don’t share anymore because I don’t care what others think. That I don’t need validation. I take a holier than thou attitude and brush off social media as soulless fluff. And sometimes it is. But what if that’s just an excuse? What if we could change that? In a world that expects perfection, I want to see more mess. I love mess. And so I’m going to show mine. I’m going to try and be more vulnerable. Authentic even. Cringe. That word has become so cliche that hearing it often makes me assume the opposite of whoever utters it… but hey, authenticity is the answer.

Did I just write all of that? I feel like I’m turning into Deepak Chopra when, if I’m honest, I’m more of a Sam Harris girl… wtf is happening to me? I have a deep-seated mistrust of anything that sounds too woo-woo. Maybe because I was raised by a crystal-wielding, vegetarian, “you create your own reality” Mother.. but as I get older (and possibly hormonally imbalanced) I see that my cold, cynical, sarcastic way of approaching the world, while funny in my own head, is limiting me. What if I could find a way to share my politically incorrect, dark sense of humour AND the empathetic, caring person that I also happen to be? What if I could integrate it all and let the inner monologue out sometimes?

It’s not friends and family I’m worried about —hell I don’t have many friends anyway. The ones that have stuck around love me for all of my mess already so they aren’t the issue. But, what about my clients?

In the past, I’ve worried what my clients would think if they saw the real me, or heard my past story.. but then, that’s just another excuse, because my clients are amazing. My clients are the few that actually do get to meet the real me —when I’m working for them I connect on a level that is so real I feel emotional once I’ve delivered the photos and I know they’ll be gone from my life… I fall in love with them a little bit through sharing in those intimate moments with them. They get me, and in turn, I get them. My favourite thing about the work I do for my clients isn’t the photography at all. It doesn’t excite me. It’s the connection. I get excited about connecting with them and sharing in the joy and emotion of their day and then delivering something that will make them cry. That’s why I keep doing what I do. I like making people feel something.

The ironic thing is, while connecting quickly and easily is my biggest strength —it’s also my weakness and where my biggest fear sits. You would think someone that is so good at connecting would be a social butterfly.. connected to everyone with a strong community around her.. but, no. The opposite is true, in fact. I think because of this sensitive, empathetic side, that has been hurt many times, I’ve walled myself off from any true relationship save for my immediate family and partner. I’m a hermit. I defend my wall with a rapier wit and a cool judgement on the rest of the world. I limit myself to one on one interactions with those closest and I leave it at that. But this isn’t serving anyone. And I have a story that people should hear.

And so, here I am.

A 44-year-old ADD woman going on 24 that happens to have a bit of a street style obsession, has a photography business that pays the mortgage and allows her to connect with some truly amazing people and in her free time likes to hang out with her son, listen to a bazillion podcasts a day and play video games. I also want to start sharing my story, in pieces, if for no other reason than it might be therapy for me, and at the same time may help someone else.

So yeah, I’m going to dare to be authentic and let the chips fall where they may.

I’m tired of having a bazillion social media accounts, so will begin to weed them out and integrate them into my one account:

In the interest of integration, here is my personal and business account and website:

@shaunaheron

@shaunaheronphotography

My business website

@thestylehazard

Thanks for listening, Shauna xo

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