It’s not about you

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“It’s not about you,”

the Ancient One says to Stephen strange in one hauntingly beautiful scene towards the end of the Marvel film, Doctor Strange. He’s spent his whole career saving lives for all the wrong reasons, for the glory of being the best at saving lives, and now he’s learned how to hone a power that could give him back that glory, give him back the use of his hands he lost to a car accident. He could get his hands back or he could help save the universe. What holds him back the most, what undermines his success at helping other people is that he cannot understand that it’s not about him.

I keep replaying this scene in my head. I keep hearing her say it. “It’s not about you.”

It’s. Not. About. You.

This is my new mantra for 2021.

The more books I read about art, the more I think about this quote, the more I learn, the more I realize–it’s not about me. Photography, writing, taking care of my kids: none of these things is about me. It can’t be, if I’m doing it right. It’s about who I’m serving. It’s about how I’m serving the client, my audience, the people who need me.

I’m not creating art so that people can tell me how beautiful it is or to get on a list that makes me feel good about my work or to be on the cover of a magazine. I’m not shooting weddings for them to get published, and if they do happen to get published, it’s not about my glory, it’s about giving inspiration to the newly engaged couples, to help them plan magical weddings.

When I discipline my daughter, it’s not about being able to pat myself on the back or having people tell me I’m a good mom. It’s about preparing her for the future. When I’m up with my son in the middle of the night, it’s not so I can get in a good snuggle, although that is a really good side affect, it’s about getting him cozy, giving him fuel to grow, making him feel loved.

Writing this blog post is not about me. It’s about my practice, yes, but it’s about becoming the best writer I can be, making sure that I am constantly honing this craft so that I can turn around and write something that impacts you.

We’ve become such a Me First society, but until we start thinking about forgetting our own “success” and how we can best serve someone else with our careers and our parenting and our relationships, we’ll always be held back. Emotionally and mentally.

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