I’d like to tell you a story.
My grandad grew up in a tiny cottage as one of four, including his identical twin. His dad was a tenant farmer and he’d tell us tales of splashing in streams and feeding chickens. He and his twin received a place at the grammar school, but they couldn’t afford the uniform, particularly not for two. His mother was a housekeeper up at the big house, and the lady of the house lamented “Oh, why didn’t you ask me?” but she was too proud. He always told me it was his one regret in life, because it would have offered him so many opportunities. Instead, at the age of 13 he went to work full time, and lived his whole life in the small market town.
He always encouraged us with our education. My mum went to the girls grammar opposite the old boys grammar, and then so did I. I realise I am extremely lucky to have had the free access to the education that I have had. And often, I don’t feel that I have made the most of it.
I don’t have an academic career, and I don’t have a PhD like many of my peers. I work part time, and have spent many years at home being a mum. I make photos for a living. It may not be high flying, or world problem solving, or raking in the millions, or be hugely respected in many cases. But to one person, somewhere, one day, that photo might mean the world. Images are so much more than pixels on a screen or ink dots on a page. They are the breath of stories, the ephemera of people and time. They bond us, divide us, make us question and bring us healing. They offer peace and comfort, and speak to our heartsong.
In a time when we are bombarded by messages of newness and a pressure on time, I just want to let you know that it’s ok to question, but it’s also ok to be. So long as you are treating others with kindness and respect, you don’t need to be any more or any less. You don’t need to be the best or striving to be the best. It’s actually ok to be happy being perfectly adequate or average. It’s ok to just be. Not just be. It’s ok to be. Just be you.