I’ve always been a little camera shy because I believe that cameras were invented to capture unguarded moments or scenes that inspire a story. Anything else, to me, just seems forced or manufactured for likes. Given this aversion to most photographs, I had to really dig deep for this week’s FTSF prompt – share a photo or tell a story – to find a story or a photograph that meant a lot to me.
I chose one from my first solo international trip because that was the trip where I finally found the person I wanted to be. From childish snow fights to molding young minds to impromptu karaoke with a stranger-turned-friend, I pushed the edges of my comfort zone because somehow there, the rules didn’t apply.
Far away from family and friends and the people who knew me, I found the strength to rediscover myself. I stopped wondering what people thought of my opinions and just gave myself permission to have them. When people asked me what kind of music I liked, I replied, ‘Country music’ with zero hesitation. When they asked me if I liked their pizza, I said ‘No, I prefer the Pizza Hut / Domino’s version to the wood-fire one’. In their responses, I found validation for my choices and the courage to explore other facets of my personality.
Somewhere on that trip, I also decided to live a more authentic life. I gave myself permission to like the things I did and to be okay if my friends and those around me didn’t. I gave myself permission to stop comparing my journey with those who had graduated with me. I allowed myself to experiment, to start from scratch and to learn how to be content with the Now.
It’s been three years since that trip but those lessons have stayed with me. I may not have half the answers I’m supposed to but I’m a couple of steps closer to my real self and to me, that’s half the battle won.
Do you live an authentic life? I’d love to hear how you do it in the comments below.
*This has been inspired by this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday prompt – Photo Share.