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Wedding Photography Is Not Good For My Self-Esteem

July 22, 2009

**I debated whether or not to even post this because I didn’t want to expose my weakness when it comes to the tender and sensitive topic of love and marriage. I like the idea of being the Wonder Woman of the single set. However, I realized what use is my story and my telling it if I’m not even honest? So here is my honesty, in all its insecure, stumbling glory.**

Like many other mid-20-somethings across the country, this summer exploded in a shower of weddings. I’m at that age now where getting married no longer sounds insane or foreign, and so I’ve been toasting, hugging, and YMCAing from here to Virginia all summer. This past weekend was my final wedding for the season, and I have to admit — I’m sad it was.

Now I know I’ve grumbled a little, since weddings don’t come cheap and let’s face it, sometimes I am (cheap, that is). But really, truly? I LOVE weddings — I’m the one always dabbing my eyes at the ceremony, ooohing and ahhhing over the ring, the cake, the dresses, and am always one of the last ones on the dance floor, busting my extremely graceful white girl dance moves until the DJ tells us to leave or until I stop, for fear of injuring those in a 5 foot radius of me. I file things away in my “Future Wedding” folder on my laptop when I find dresses I like, invitations, menus, hairstyles, engagement photo poses, anything. I am a sap for love and a nerd for weddings — it’s true.

(See, look how excited I was at Kirk’s wedding!)

Via Facebook, I’ve gotten to be privy to many other weddings I didn’t attend (hello photo albums!) and I’ve spent hours looking through all the stunning photography. (This guy in particular went to college with me and even though I didn’t know him, I am just a teeny bit obsessed with his photography…it’s seriously incredible.) It’s something about how a camera can capture a couple’s love that just astounds me…like making art out of emotion. The lens (and photographer) seems to find what is most beautiful about the bride and the groom and explodes it into Technicolor for all to see.

As I page through all of these stunning pictures, I come face to face with my own insecurities, which is always an ugly and unpleasant encounter. I always like to think I’ve conquered them, as a woman who is on the whole pretty happy with myself. I like to think that I will eventually get to a point where I don’t need to continually ask God who I am and be satisfied with His answer over and over and over again. I like to think that I will get past being jealous of other girls who have better hair than I do or are skinnier or prettier or have whiter teeth. Surrounded by the stunning beauty of this kaleidoscope of wedding photos, I end up feeling lumpy and ugly, instead of uplifted and inspired.

And it’s so, so, so stupid.

Whatever harsh, judgmental voice lives in my head, it snaps awake and immediately begins haranguing me with insults.

“You won’t look that pretty…if you find someone who will marry you, anyway.”

“Did you SEE those pictures from the last wedding that you went to? Sooooo AWK-WARD.”

“Whoa whoa whoa. Why are you taking mental notes on what poses you like? YOU certainly won’t look like THAT.”

And on it goes, until I eventually close the window, take a few deep breaths, crumble a little, pray a lot, and eventually return to my senses.

I absolutely hate that I do this. And even when I realize that it’s stupid and untrue, what is my first thought?

“Guys don’t like insecure girls. If you tell anyone about this or own up to it, no one will like you.”

Fighting this internal poison seems to be a lifelong battle for me and one that I have timidly stepped away from most of the time. Whatever wounds and disconnections that have been made in past relationships, I haven’t really dealt very upfrontly with most of them. I suppose I love watching other peoples’ love stories because I’m still not sure if I believe that I will have one and I seem to prefer escapism instead of dealing with my own problems.

I was reading my blog friend Kate‘s blog awhile back, and came across a song she had posted that really hit me hard. Like really hard…like target between-the-eyes hard. Reading the lyrics flash across the screen, I realized something. Not that “if you believe you deserve love, love will find you” or “you have to love yourself before someone else can love you.” I realized loving who I am is a lifelong process and fight and it’s not about finding someone AFTER I learn how to do that. It’s about finding someone who will work alongside me and HELP me do that (though ultimately, it really is between me and the Man Upstairs).

(Read the lyrics of this song.)

I work so hard to discover beauty in everyone else and rarely look for it in myself. It’s a naughty, naughty habit and it’s about time that I kicked it for the billionth time.

[deep breath]

So I’m going to try.

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