I took my first Polaroid on January 19, 2023. The developed photo showed the smile on my face, the hope in my eyes, and the peace sign I made with my hand. The image did not at all match my situation. The day before, I’d gotten laid off, and my plans for the year all seemed dashed.
Before losing my job, I’d made extensive plans. Plans that centered around my fitness goals, getting my hair done every two weeks, buying a car, and having professional headshots taken for my LinkedIn page.
I’d never been confident in front of the camera, and I rarely liked taking pictures. My hesitancy to take photos stemmed from not looking how I envisioned myself in my head. So, when I saw a photo of myself, I never quite looked the way I’d hoped. These feelings really came from not seeing myself as beautiful and an overall lack of confidence. As a result, when asked to take a photo, I’d say, “Oh, I’m okay.”
My mom would often say, “One day you are going to look back and realize that you were really beautiful and that you wish you had more pictures.” I’ve sat with that thought…
I received this new-era Polaroid camera as a gift. What I didn’t know was that it would be a gift that keeps on giving. Since receiving it, I’ve taken 22 photos and counting. When I took that first Polaroid picture on a chilly Thursday in January, I thought, what if I just do it anyway? Despite how I felt and regardless of perceiving myself as being ‘photo-ready’, I took the shot. I opened the blinds for best light, turned the camera toward my face and clicked.
As I took more photos, my confidence began to climb. I started to truly love the images. I enjoyed the Polaroid because it was instant; I couldn’t overthink it and then subsequently decide to not to take the picture. I went forward with the mentality of, I’m just going to do it and see what happens.
I went to visit my college roommate and her fiancé (now soon-to-be husband) in the spring. We sat at brunch after a morning stroll through Rhode Island’s Botanical Gardens, and I asked, “Hey, do you guys want to take a Polaroid?” They looked puzzled and intrigued, but they agreed.
I quickly asked the waiter to snap the pic before they could change their minds. It was touch and go at first (mainly because I forgot to hit the power button), but once it was on, it was smooth sailing.
The waiter asked, “Is there a way to see what the photo will look like before I take it?”
“Nope!” I said, “It’s a ‘walking by faith and not by sight’ type of thing.” We all laughed, but it was true. The waiter’s only option was to look through the tiny view finder and click the red button.
Somehow, through taking these Polaroids, I began to love myself more, trust myself more, and trust God more. Those sentiments have transferred to other aspects of my life. Some of the pictures have even come out better than expected! While the year did not start off as I’d planned or hoped for, the year has still been worth the pictures and memories.
I began to reframe my thinking. Instead of holding onto the narrative that I’d lost my job, I began saying my job lost me. I started doing things anyway, despite my own insecurities or what obstacles may stand in the way. I applied to jobs that I normally might have counted myself out from because the qualifications felt intimidating. I’ve pitched more of my stories and articles to editors because the worst they can say is, “No.”
I’ve shown up to new events—even if it meant going alone. I traveled to San Francisco because it was on my bucket list of places to go. Of course, while in California, I took many photos. In this transitional period of my career, I’ve done as much as possible to save money. And in the spirit of saving money, I’ve reignited my love of public transportation. I’ve gotten some of my best ideas while on the train.
Today, I have taken my 23rd Polaroid, a selfie—a tangible piece of what ‘just doing it anyway’ looks like. My hair is in big soft curls (courtesy of a roller set), and I’ve embraced a deep shade of brown lipstick called “Shawty” to welcome in fall, and it snapped y’all.Leave a Comment