What is Silent Sunday?
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There’s always that underflowing fear, starting a new school. Wondering about fitting in, making new friends, not being the weird one, being accepted as is, wearing the right stuff..
It’s been horribly daunting.
I never fit in at the previous school.
Parents rarely spoke to me unless they wanted something. The Smalls and I would be shoved out of the way, by adults and children alike. We didn’t talk like they did, we didn’t look like they did, we didn’t fit in. It was weird, trying to convince The Smalls to make friends, to play with the other kids…the other kids who bullied them, called them names, threw grass at them, ran away from them in the playground…
Do you know how stupid it is trying to get your kids to play with the enemy?
They tried though. They did try. Just like I tried, to make friends with the other parents. I’d smile at them on the way in and out of school, and say good morning, or hi…most of the time I got no response. Sometimes they’d respond, and then blank me for a few weeks. I never did understand why. It was kinda confusing. Much like The Smalls felt it confusing, trying to “fit in”. They’d ask to play with the other kids, and try not to feel like shit when the other kids would shout “NO!” and then run away, laughing.
We tried. I vowed I would get them out. I vowed I would give them a better learning environment, find people who were more open-minded, a world in which perhaps they could fit, could belong to. Really, that should be anywhere. It’s a school, for crying out loud. But from day one, the only time they felt comfortable was in the care of one specific teacher. Which is tough, when said hard-working teacher has 29 other children to look after.
I totally understand the strain of The System. I’ve been part of The System. I couldn’t blame The System.
There was no one to blame, really. I inwardly ranted at the school, tried to keep my calm with the staff, and busted my backside trying to make it a happy place for The Smalls.
They kept trying. We all kept trying.
This week, they started their new school. They’ve been excited to start since the day they knew they were going. They’ve known for nearly 4 months. The excitement never waned once. They asked repeatedly if they could try on their blazers, asked about the school dinners, asked about reading, writing and learning maths. I asked them if they were looking forward to making new friends…their excitement wavered a little, but still said yes.
I was excited. And nervous. I don’t make friends quickly, and I’m ever conscious to not put that on The Smalls. But then, they’re pretty smart, and gauge situations incredibly well.
The first week has been amazing. Parents have talked to me, asked me about what I do, helped me find my feet, hell – they SAY HELLO AND GOOD MORNING AND HI without me having to give them a weird puppy-pleading face. It’s like I’ve entered some weird parallel dimension where people are almost polar opposite to where we were.
The Smalls have always had each others backs. They always look out for each other. Always. They stick together, quite often because there was no one else. This week, they’ve told me they’ve made friends (though they can’t remember the names), they’ve played with other children (in other year groups) and they still play with each other (whilst being included with other children).
I like it. It’s a nice feeling. I’m reluctant to let down my guard just yet, I’m still nervous. I’m very conscious that my car is smaller. That I’m in my scruffs every morning. That I don’t have big fancy bling. But it all goes unnoticed; no one is the least bit interested in that. The parents talk to me, and the the kids talk to The Smalls. And it’s always lovely. The school is tiny, and everyone knows each other, and that helps immensely. It’s a great feeling.
And The Smalls have had very happy faces from the minute they walked in. So that’s a good thing. For once, it’s ok being the new kids. I kinda like it, and so do they.
With every passing day, I step more and more out of my comfort zones.
Emailing my favourite world-famous photographers asking for one-to-one sessions. Asking wedding blogs to feature my work. Using photography formats considered far too complicated and silly when I could just take the easier route.
Trying, with every single breath, to stay true to myself.
It’s awesome, and terrifying, and brilliant, and daunting, and I’m hoping, worthwhile.
And I have to put this here, because with my mind still being so fresh-full of “hey, by the way, you’re shit” and “you know, you should quit this and go be something less worthwhile”, it’s good to remind myself of my brave small steps.
I’m not putting down my security blanket yet, though. It’s good to have one. But it’s also good to take it off my head and look at what surrounds me, ready for me to grab it by the nuts.
(Gently, though. Because you know, terrifying.)
I’m supposed to be working right now. It’s 07:32 on a Wednesday morning. The Smalls are happily playing with Lego and Dragons, not yet ready for breakfast. I’ve got my cup of coffee, and I’m flitting back and forth between 5 desktop screens, which include Lightroom, my emails, Facebook page updates, Zenfolio galleries, Tweetbot, Evernote, Wunderlist, Lightblue and Photoshop. I’m a little overwhelmed though. Not because of the amount of stuff I have open, but because of the insanity of the last 5 or 6 days.
I’m that annoying asshole who sits at their “desk” (currently a massive beanbag to sit on, and my iMac sits on a massive plastic tub which is loaded with cameras. I have it like this so that I can still be with The Smalls and they feel they can still approach me whilst I work) constantly thinking, “Holy shit…I fucking LOVE MY JOB…”
A few weeks ago, I half heartedly sent a photo over to The Wedding Community, entering it for “Picture Of The Day”. I don’t usually do stuff like that, and I confess it was a mixture of “hmmm what are the chances” and “IF it got pic of the day, I guess maybe the exposure would be nice…” A few days later I was told it had made Picture of the Day.
HUH! Ok…didn’t see that coming…but yayy!!! That’s great! I felt proud of myself, not for “winning” said title, but for having the balls to finally send in a photo. Unfortunately, I hadn’t banked on it automatically being entered for Picture of The Month. Which is what happened. And then I mentally shat myself for the best part of a week, whilst I kinda asked people to vote for me.
I. HATE. ASKING. PEOPLE. TO. VOTE. FOR. ME.
By rights, I should have put it on both blogs, made a big song and dance, “Vote for me! Number 21!! Please go and vote!” but I didn’t. I posted to my social media platforms twice, and left it at that.
Friday morning, right as I was pulling up on to the drive of a client ready for her wedding day, The Wedding Community phoned me to tell me I won Picture of the Month. Which freaked me out A WHOLE LOT. Especially as I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until it was announced on Monday just gone.
Friday itself was amazing; one of my old friends in the music world was finally getting married after years of dudes breaking her heart. I hadn’t seen her so happy before, and I can’t even begin to express what an honour it was to be asked to photograph her wedding. She respected me enough to shoot it, and trusted me enough to let me go hybrid (film and digital). And it was glorious.
I loved her day, and spent most of the weekend reminiscing over why I love my job. (I really AM that asshole constantly saying how much they love their job, and genuinely meaning it.) However I was honestly super stressed, too. Because for several weeks I had been waiting for a phone call from gorgeous girl Roz, who was by this point 41 weeks pregnant. We had agreed that I would photograph her birth, and I was pretty much on call the whole time. I was anxious, stressed and nervous. Primarily because I didn’t want to let her down by not being able to get there for her. So all day Saturday, I pretty much stared at my phone hoping she would call.
It stayed silent. So all day Sunday, whilst I second shot a frickin awesome Indian wedding with Bhavna Barratt, I willed the phone to NOT ring. (I can’t share photos from that wedding as I don’t own the images, but you should totally go stalk her site.)
It stayed silent.
It stayed silent on Monday, too. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. The Smalls were out for the day, I didn’t have many errands, but I was still too scared to leave the house. I just couldn’t let her down.
So when she pinged me on Tuesday morning, around 8:15 to tell me she felt maybe today was the day (she text me back 6 minutes later to say her waters had gone…), suddenly I felt the weight of everything in the world sitting right on my chest. As if it’s not enough of an honour to be considered good enough to photograph people’s weddings, here I was, asked to go and photograph an ACTUAL REAL BIRTH.
To say I was bricking it is some sort of mahoosive understatement of the millennium.
But you know what? After 40 minutes of having my heart pounding in my ears whilst I stuck to the 50mph motorway works speed limits (may have yelled a little bit), I arrived at Roz’s house.
She gave birth only 20 minutes later. (You should go stalk her blog to see her story – I’m sure she’ll post it at some point.)
Was definitely worth the anxiety.
Lately, there’s rarely a day which passes where I don’t feel the excited twitchy nervousness of shooting some film, or anticipating the next wedding (I’m looking at you, TiddlyomPomPom, not long now…). I can’t remember the last time I felt such a buzz out of life. I still have moments, where I’m not sure what will happen next…the passing of Robin Williams this weeks has certainly stroked the buttons of my shitty triggers. I can’t not think about it, and I do worry about the come-down after such an emotional roller coaster high. As always, it will come, and as always, I’ll succumb to it (it’s easier that way. I guess like I told Roz not to fight her contractions, but breathe through them instead, I just need to keep breathing through the worst of the fuzzy stuff, when it comes. It will come. It always does).
I hope I don’t let myself down. It’s been an insane year. My mind flits over everything I’ve been through. I’ve already lost another friend, I’ve gained better understanding with other friends, and I’m trying not to hurt. I’ve photographed amazing weddings, special engagement sessions, had images hand-picked by blogs and photography sites, and I should be proud of myself. But I always feel like I can’t take on too much. I have my limits. The limelight is amazing, but it’s also a lot for me to take.
So I guess right now, at the height of all this madness, I sit here typing frantically, somewhat dazed. (And confused.) And awesome, I think.