I feel like I start 80% of my posts with "This may be a long post..." Just thought I'd point that out.
This may be a long post. In the words of Erica King and many others, "Sorry, not sorry."
The first time I remember noticing this was in middle school. I just wasn't satisfied with going with the flow and just floating through life doing things that people tell you to do and that society expects you to do. I didn't do anything about it, though. I mean, it's middle school, people don't expect much from you (side note: when you feel people expect little from you, you only give a little. maybe we should start encouraging people of all ages to dream as big as they can at all times and, here's the crazy part, believe in their dreams). But I remember thinking, "I guess this is all there is. America is for those who want money and fame and other countries are places where people can make a difference." Which is when I first wanted to live in Africa.
So, high school came around and it was like I was searching everywhere for something deeper. Everything always just felt so shallow and empty. From friendships to even church youth group. It just wasn't there. Whatever "it" was. I even went on a mission trip to Slovakia where I do believe that God moved but I was so beyond lost. I didn't know how to feel about trying to impose my beliefs on others. I didn't understand how all of that worked. Yes, I do believe that God can use any moment to work but I also believe we should genuinely care about people and learning their stories before assuming they would ever want to listen to what we had to say. But, that's a different blog post for a different day. The point is, I never understood that anything could be more than surface level.
Skipping a huge chunk of my story and moving on to the summer of 2011 I interned in ATL with a beautiful non-profit, Broken Voices. Unfortunately, I was at a really dark place in my life. Fortunately, in spite of that dark place I was able to see some light. The biggest event of the summer was IDEAfarm which is also a different blog post for a different day. Long story short, I finally learned that there are injustices in the world that pull on our heart for a reason and that it is no coincidence that we have gifts and talents and when those two are put together, you can actually do something good in the world. WHAAAATTTT??? Yeah, forreal. Me. Rebekah Rausch. Major clutz, screw-up, goof who 75% of the people in this world don't take seriously. Yeah, I can actually do good and love people.
Moving right on to this past weekend at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference (SWPJC) at Fort Worth, Texas. I could seriously talk for days on the things I learned about photography, the world, people and myself. The main thing that I realized from this and from research after was that I have been coming up with a million reasons as to why I'm not good enough and basically negating everything I've learned over the last 2, well really 21 years of my life. The truth is, I'm not perfect. I never will be. I may never be as good as Eugene Richards or Joanna Pinneo or Dave Black and that's okay. The point is that I'll be me and instead of demanding perfection, I need to demand action and the best that I can give at that time. Honestly, some days the best I can give is getting out of bed and refusing to let depression and fatigue take away my smile. But I need to stop waiting for something big to just come to me. I need to stop waiting for my photography and videography skills to magically get better from reading countless articles on lighting and storytelling (not that those aren't fantastic things to do). I need to do. The best way to grow is by doing and by making mistakes. It isn't by sitting around sulking in self-pity of how much you suck.
So, here are my points of this post:
-Life is not surface-level. There are deep joys and deep pains and there is beauty that stems from both. I refuse to believe that we are here to simply survive. We are here to love and to be loved. We are here to see people facing injustices and people who are broken and stand beside those people because we are equal. We have all experienced some type of injustice and/or brokenness. We need to learn to see our differences and find our commonalities within those differences. We may eat different food but you know what, we both like to eat. You may swim breast stroke and I may swim freestyle but we both know what it feels like to have to come up for a breath every once in a while. I'm not saying we should pretend there aren't differences. I'm just saying there may be something deeper there; like even in our differences, we are the same.
-You aren't perfect, but don't let that stop you from doing the best you can. We all have the power to impact the world we live in. We do it all the time, intentionally and unintentionally. Maybe it's time we are more intentional in how we impact and we focus more of our energy on spreading peace and justice rather than hate and judgement. Realize that you have a gift and probably multiple gifts. Learn those gifts and use them. They are there for a reason so figure out how that fits in with the things that deeply break your heart in this world. If it's a certain age-group, a certain nation or one single person.
- Lastly and one of the most important things to remember, don't hate yourself for your failures and your imperfections. Don't hate yourself for waiting all this time. Hating yourself will only make it harder to love others. You are a valuable person. I mean really, the God that created the universe also took time to create you and give you talents and joys and beauty. If the greatest power ever loves you even when you totally screw everything up, man, why shouldn't you learn to love yourself? It's hard to see the sweetness of life when all you ever focus on are the bitter parts of it.