She was three weeks old. Tiny, delicate, still curled up and seashell-pale-pink.
I looked down at her and wanted to never leave her side.
She was the ONLY one I wanted to be with.
Instead, I handed her over. I handed her back to my husband and watched him drive off, and even though I was stood side by side with my second shooter, who is also a good friend, and I was shortly to be surrounded by over 200 people, I felt alone.
And I feel it now.
The same ache, the same loneliness.
Do you feel it? How despite being around even an entire LOAD of people, you still feel that same ache?
And before you write off this post as a bunch of useless and self-indulgent witterings. Like there aren’t enough problems on this earth so much more serious than some indulgent photographer sat in on her island-ivory-tower, moaning about how bloody LONELY she is.
Don’t I bloody know.
Which is part of the problem isn’t it?
That we shouldn’t even feel this way.
The thing is,
we can’t help it.
We were BORN this way.
Well, I definitely was. I was never an extrovert. I always preferred my own company, I was the child who preferred the folk of the faraway tree to any semblance of real life normality, and so for the main part, that’s where you’d find me. Not stuck up the flipping faraway tree, of course, but with my head in a book, despite continual protests from my Mother to go outside and get some fresh air.
I had no desire for that.
I just wanted to fill my mind with words, with knowledge, with escapism, with romance, with daydreams.
Not much changed as I got older, and my mum affectionately told me on several occasions that we were very much like Saffy and Eddy from Absolutely Fabulous, which I used to hate, because hey, what kid wants to be the nerd?
Even nerds don’t want to be nerds.
Until nerds became cool and then over the past few years I’ve actually become quite proud of my introversion, I mean it’s not like I’m a bloody recluse don’t get me wrong, I just don’t get energy from being around other people.
But this also means
That just because I am an introvert
Because I don’t love huge crowds of people
Because I prefer staying in to going out
Because sometimes parties and big events literally scare me, I mean I get so nervous I get butterflies and feel sick
Just because I am an introvert, that doesn’t mean I don’t ever feel lonely.
So like today.
I have a friend staying with us for three weeks, my brother-in-law arrived today, I’ve spent some time with our incredibly happy and bubbly toddlers and chatted briefly to our babysitter. I’ve also attended a group hangout with my mentor in Bali and some other incredible businesswomen from around the world, and hung out for a time in the FPA incredible membership group.
But still, I feel it.
Doesn’t mean we don’t get lonely.
And it’s perhaps not the loneliness of even being alone tonight. Despite my husband asking me repeatedly if I minded if they all went out to the cinema, because ‘well, you’d planned to work anyway?’
and yes, I had, but that’s not the point.
The point is,
Nobody seems to get it, do they?
Nobody seems to understand what it’s like to run their own business.
Only my online friends and comrades, which incredible as those bonds are, it’s not like they can pick you up and give you a hug it it?
And to be honest, I don’t think I’d want one anyway.
To be honest when I shoot weddings I LIKE the loneliness, the being quite happily by myself behind a camera all day and in fact I’d prefer it if you DIDN’T speak to me, especially not to tell me that you’re a photographer too and to ask what lens I’m using.
Dear Lord. Do I come to your desk during your work day and ask for tips on how to become a computer programmer or whatever it is that you do? No, no I do not.
And it’s not because I’m unsocial, or hate people, as my husband used to think.
I LOVE people. I really do. And I absolutely LOVE helping other photographers. (And I’m bloody good at it)
But there is a time and a place for everything. And when I’m in full flow at a wedding and my introvert senses are already on overdrive at best and at worst giving me a migraine that I know is going to wipe me out the next day because large crowds literally exhaust me, that is not the time.
But why am I telling you this if I don’t want your help? If I don’t want the comments that reassure me that you are here, listening, reading every word that I say, because I know you very kindly will want to tell me – please don’t feel alone! I’m here! because that’s the kind of person I have reading the FPA.
I’m telling you this-
Because I know how it feels to feel alone.
And especially as a female entrepreneur
As a photographer
Whatever it is that you do that involves a huge part of your day hustling your game up and sat at your laptop and not only not seeing people but actually having REAL and MEANINGFUL connections with them and
whatever you call yourself
I know what the ache feels like.
It feels like
Although you can be surrounded by people
You’ll still feel alone.
Although you can meet literally and virtually, thousands of people in one day
You will still have moments when you feel so bloody ALONE!
Like this big hole inside of you exists and what it means is not that you want to be surrounded by people
Because that’s just NOISE
But you want just one person to tell you
I GET IT.
I know what it’s like.
To stay up until 3am working.
To work all weekend.
To have best friends and incredible relationships that are made and lived out, online.
To make it.
To make it gloriously.
And even when you have faith and you have GOD to talk to
To KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO still have that feeling.
A feeling like you couldn’t explain how it feels even if you tried, and you’d not sure if you’d want to bother to try anyway because, well, nobody else would get it would they?
Because you aren’t complaining. You wouldn’t change anything.
Who knows, I think sometimes I even ENJOY the loneliness. It’s not like I try to do anything about it. In fact I moved us a thousand miles to a mediterranean island where we knew NOBODY so I probably even do the exact opposite of what I should be doing if I didn’t want to feel like this.
And maybe feeling this way is a GOOD sign, like perhaps you just simply can’t have success without it, who knows?
What I do know is, sometimes, you need to know this.
That somebody else other than you and the folk of the faraway tree
So this post is for you.
It’s not a hug. It’s not meant to make you feel incredible or like there is some bloody SOLUTION, like a 3 step pathway to becoming less introvert.
Bugger that. Most of the time, I LOVE being an introvert. Hiding behind my camera, writing my blog, doing my creative thing and living out my purpose freely, beautifully, caught in that creative flow where time seems to stand still.
when that hole opens up (and it isn’t often)
sometimes you just need somebody to say
this feeling will pass.
Just like you know it will,
but by exchanging those words.
that somebody, somewhere, understands.
I get it.
And it’s not about pity or compassion or empathy or sympathy or any of those things, it’s simply standing shoulder to shoulder by your side and saying to you, right here and now-
I feel it too. Not now, not always, but I know what you mean, because,
I get it.
And that’s it.
And it’s not meant to cure or fix or help it’s simply meant to BE
Because as introverts OR extroverts or businesswomen or photographers or creatives, as any and all of those things
The BEST if not the ONLY way
of handling that emptiness
Is sometimes just
To sit in it for a while
and just, BE.
And it’s not melancholic or narcissistic or sad or unhappy, it’s literally just existing in that space for a while, accepting it, and knowing that even if you feel it, you’re not alone.
And that’s why I wrote this post, for those of you that feel the same, those of you who understand.
I wrote this for you.