I’ve started and trashed and started and trashed about twenty blog posts in the last couple of months, unsure of where to begin or what I truly want to say. Full disclosure: those feelings have not changed, but what has changed today is that I find myself able to take action, in spite of the uncertainty and doubt. So, here goes nothing.

In 2014, I graduated from college with no clue as to what my next steps were going to be. You see, everything from birth up until that point is strategically laid out for us. First they teach you a few basic things (how to crawl, sit, hold up your own head, walk, talk, eat, etc) and then, when you’re big enough, they send you to school. There, the instructions are clear and given to you every single day for the next twelve years. Then, if you’re able or lucky or both, you make your way to a bigger version of the last institution you were in, where more of the same happens to a varied degree: you go to class, sleep (sometimes), study, shower (sometimes), study, eat (never healthily), party, “network”, work out (kind of), study, camp out in the library, etc. Then one day they slap the most hideous costume on you, tell you to wait in line while they call the first, middle, and last names of every other person you’ve lived in this microcosm with for the last four years, make you walk across a stage so your mom can have a good cry, and then…they give you the boot.

BAM. You’re on your own…and the feeling is, sometimes mostly, t e r r i f y i n g.

self portrait ma belle 2

Here’s me, attempting to look not-so-terrified.

I mean, I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, but I’ve been open about it with enough people by now to know I am not alone in this. Look, let’s be honest here, a lot of us aren’t literally on our own. Many of us are lucky enough these days to still be connected to mom/dad/family for some outside support (housing, financial, or just calling them at the first sign of any adult situation, freaking out because you have no idea what you are doing, or some combination of the three). Those of us who have been blessed enough to have that privilege should count our lucky stars, that’s for sure. But, the feeling of being lost is just the same for all human adults these days. Our society is so driven by “success” and social media every day, that it’s nearly impossible to avoid feelings of shame or unworthiness because we are essentially f o r c e d to compare ourselves to others all the time. Yes, healthy competition can be inspired by some comparisons, and thus be used to drive success, but that line is pretty fine, my friends. Personally, I have an extremely difficult time staying out of the dark place when I start playing the comparison game. I’ll quickly slip into the “I need to have a REAL job, like Sally up in Boston” or “Maybe if I had X amount of income, I could travel to all the places I want to see. Fred looks like he’s doing well for himself, what’s his job?” thoughts. So much begins to be driven by what my profession looks like on paper, what my finances say about me, or how independent I can prove myself to be.

And let me tell ya…it is e x h a u s t i n g.

AND, more importantly, from a pragmatic perspective, it doesn’t work. I’m not a self-help guru or business coach or life coach. I’m just a 27-year-old woman who’s finally had enough of trying to fit into other people’s ideas and expectations. I am driven. I am ambitious. I am passionate. And, all my life, those qualities have led me to some wonderful achievements, and some dark times when I was met with failure. The thing is, the darkness only came when I felt like I was failing some made up expectation that–at the time–I felt convinced was very real.

After a few of these ups and downs, I now realize that there are other ideas, other boxes, other worlds aside from those I’ve always been taught exist. This universe is infinite, as is each individual’s capacity for creativity. Mine has been itching to surface for ages, and I’ve kept it buried out of fear that it’s I’m not enough. Yep, there, I said it. And, nope, I’m not the first, nor the last, to ever make this terrible mistake.

So, this is me, doing it. I’m taking the leap and breaking away from the herd to follow my creative passions, which right now, bring me behind the lens. MA BELLE is new to you, but it has been slowly, quietly generating energy in me for a long, long time. Be it through photographs, words, or another medium, I pour my heart out into the world, for the very first time. I am exhilarated. The best part is that, in so doing, I gain the unique opportunity to help other individuals become more comfortable with themselves, to access their own beauty and light. It takes courage to get there, and rarely is courage accessed alone. We need each other and I am at a loss for words to fully express the gratitude I am filled with today to be in a position where I can live this dream.

Thank you for reading and if you haven’t already, take a look around! I’d love the chance to collaborate with you.

Love always,

Mabel

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