Through and through, I am a creature of habit. My planner is the most important purchase of the year and I thrive off my Sunday night organization session where I outline my upcoming week in multi-colored pens. I have certain habits for grocery shopping and laundry and when I like to study foreign languages.
These routines, much like running and writing, keep me grounded and focused. But at some point, routines can become too much. It isn’t until you’ve stepped outside of yourself for a day or a week that you notice how much you’ve missed. You know that feeling of taking a long weekend trip? Suddenly, Saturday seems to last forever as you forget about buying bananas and bread and focus on enjoying wherever you are.
All this is to say that while I appreciate some of the structures I’ve given my life, I can’t help but wonder what’s just outside the box. The new idea for Sunday blog posts is to write about one experience I had in the previous week that was out of routine, that wasn’t predictable, that made me think a little differently about myself and the world I live in.
Challenge 3: Model
I don’t wear a lot of makeup, fashion has never been my style, I’m pretty awkward when it comes to taking pictures, and I don’t know how to not smile in pictures. Naturally then, when my roommate asked if I would be her model for some headshots she wanted to take to diversify her photography portfolio, I said no. And then I said yes.
That’s how I found myself sitting across from her on our bar stools and closing my eyes. Products I couldn’t tell you the first thing about were smeared across my face and I think by the end of it I was wearing more eye liner than I’d worn in my entire life cumulatively combined. Applying the makeup seemed to take a century, but that was only the prep work. I changed into a plain black shirt and had to work really hard to put my hair in a high ponytail that didn’t have bumps. Then came the actual photography.
It’s not that I hate having my picture taken. I’m as big a fan of taking selfies with my dog as anyone, but there’s something different about someone else holding a camera and pressing the button for just you. I didn’t think there was anything shy about my own camera habits until I was assigned photo booth duty at the 2016 Brooklyn Heart Walk. I watched groups of family and friends pull each other into the frame with silly hats and feather boas. They were loving it.
But they weren’t the group that surprised me the most. No, the fascinating people were the single men and women who would come up to the photo booth alone and ask if we were ready to take their picture. They would smile and pout and throw their arms up in the air – dramatically posing for the picture with each flash of light. It was incredible. I decided I wanted the kind of confidence that would take solo pictures at a public event just to have a photo booth strip dedicated to all the magic they are.
And that’s how I found myself in a strangely lit version of my family room with my eyes weighed down in makeup.
It was extremely hard to not smile for a camera, but I got used to the idea of looking moodily off into the distance, it just took a little bit of channeling to find my middle school self. By the end of it – though I was eager to rub my eyes and put my flannel shirt back on – I had to smile at the quirky experience.
This fun little afternoon project also opened my eyes to a world I know nothing about. Disclaimer – I am still not saying I know anything about what it would be like to be an actual model. I know that is not my domain. But this little experiment did make me see things – and myself – a little differently.
While my roommate downloaded the photos to her computer and I began the process of wiping my face, I thought about what it means to say yes to something you would traditionally shy away from and what a gift it is to be able to change your answer and try something new – even, I thought as I slid my glasses back up the bridge of my nose, if you’ll never do it again.