Quite a few years ago I was at Old Home Week in Woodstock, and on a whim I had my palm read. The man examined the lines of my hand closely, perplexedly, and then looked into my eyes and asked me one of the strangest questions I’ve ever been asked:
Are there two of you in there?
Maybe. Kind of. In a way.
There’s Me. The warm; the loving. The optimist. The enthusiast. The ambitious, the determined. She who started her own business and works tirelessly to make it happen. She who is fun and funny. She who is a good friend and partner. She who cares. She of ideas, she of power. She of adventures; she of joy.
Then there’s Anti-Me. Or maybe Also-Me. The cold. The cynical. She who doubts. She who is afraid to fall; afraid to fail. She who is too serious, too shy, too standoffish. She who is more than slightly anxious. She who never says the right thing. She who wonders when it will all come crashing down.
We were both at WPPI.
I went full of excitement; vim and vigour. I was going to take every opportunity; talk to everyone; impress and be impressed… and I think or hope I did those things. But I didn’t anticipate feeling like such a backwoods nobody. I didn’t think of what it would really be like to talk to people I feel like I know really well, and realize – maybe for the first time – that they don’t know me at all. I didn’t anticipate feeling left out. Feeling like whatever the opposite of fabulous is. The crushing disappointment of completely shutting down when it was time to perform. Being so completely overwhelmed.
This isn’t to say that the experience was bad. On the contrary, I had an amazing time. I’d love to go back.
It’s just that the experience was complex.
It was dichotomous.
It was intense.
It was an emotional roller-coaster – an emotional sledgehammer, as AG put it – and there were highs and lows. There isn’t just one me, so there wasn’t just one experience. WPPI wasn’t one thing; it was many things. Like I said in my previous post, I don’t know that I’ve ever simultaneously felt so insignificant and so inspired. I can’t count how many times I was moved to tears.
I mostly took classes in the marketing/motivational vein, and it was exactly what I needed. I was asked so many tough questions. Questions that are so fundamental, so philosophical, I haven’t quite formed the answers to yet. Who am I? As a photographer? As a person? Why am I doing this? What am I hoping to accomplish? What are my goals?
These are the kinds of questions we all wrestle with in our lives, but rarely have I felt so on the spot about it. Needless to say, I’m thinking hard about what kind of person I am, what kind of business I want to run, and what kind of photographer I want to be. I was blown away again and again by my need to figure out – or maybe not figure out, but articulate – these very essential things before I can truly move forward and succeed.
In just 3 days, WPPI has managed to change me in ways I can’t even express. I have a whole new set of knowledge and experiences to draw from. I have renewed confidence and renewed decisiveness. I have new friends. The hard work comes now though, as I sit down and try to absorb and apply everything I learned.
WPPI was an amazing, life-changing journey for me, in so many ways. To think that it all started by winning my registration on Twitter! Taking that one, silly, no-risk chance to enter – and then the bigger risk to actually go – has undoubtedly changed me for the better.
…And yeah, the tradeshow was awesome.
Here are a few more photos of WPPI, mostly taken with my Canon G12 pocket camera except where noted!
More photos from Las Vegas and from the Justin & Mary sunrise shoot-out are coming, so stay tuned!