With temperatures outside in the 50s, I decided to grab my Canon and head out for a walk in the woods. I didn’t have anything in mind when I set out, but I settled into a photo project that I really enjoyed.
But as I took pictures, I noticed some curious looks from other hikers. Weird looks. “What is she doing” looks. It finally occurred to me that they didn’t know what was in my viewfinder. Ohhhhh…..they probably think I’m taking pictures of dead trees! You’d think that a 45-year old woman would be through with the self-conscious phase, but I was embarrassed that people might be thinking that I’m weird. So I started glancing over my shoulder to see who was around before lifting my camera. I even faked tying my shoes when someone walked up while I was squatted for a photo.
Finally, an older woman stopped me and said, “What could you possibly find interesting out here this time of year?” Feeling foolish, my first inclination was to say “nothing” and go on my way. But then I shrugged it off and figured I’d just tell her the truth. I explained that I was fascinated by the enormous variety of textures, patterns and colors of tree trunk surfaces. Also, I’ve always been so fixated on the leaves that I’d never really taken the time to check out the rest of the tree.
She paused for several seconds, glanced around, and said, “You know, you’re right. I’ve been walking these trails for years and I’ve never thought about that. Thank you — I’ll start looking around more.” Then she said something that made me want to cry. She said, “I’m inspired now.”
I don’t share this story because I did something special or because I have any profound insight about anything. I want to share a valuable reminder I took home today: stop being embarrassed by who you are. Stop trying to hide what’s important to you or what you find beautiful or interesting. Sure, on the surface, someone might think you’re weird. That’s okay. On the flip side, your perspective could also be meaningful to someone else and help them see things differently. Be brave enough to share yourself. Or at the very least, don’t worry — you’re okay just as you are.