I’m not someone who fears change just because it’s change. In fact, I actually like change. I like fresh starts and planning for the future. I don’t love packing up my things, but I do love the feeling of moving to a new place, to exploring a future free from the baggage of the past.
What I do have trouble with is my fierce loyalty. It may not seem like a detriment to me or a negative thing at first glance. But take a closer look and you’ll see how this can truly stifle a person.
I am fiercely loyal to my film lab (Hey PhotoVision Crew!), and I love the work they do for me. I love that they’re my team. But when I shoot digital, the nagging feeling that I’m not shooting film, not working with the PV crew, not truly a complete “film photographer” makes it difficult to not want to pull out my Contax and shoot it just for the sake of pleasing them. Will it matter to them if I choose the medium best for me? Probably not. Let’s face it, I’m just one person. Do I want to support their business? Yes. But in truth, digital photography has a lot of plus sides. Using the medium that is right for the situation has its plus sides. Shooting film just to be loyal to my lab is holding me back.
I do the same thing with the ribbon I buy, with the company I order cutting boards from. I am even the same way with how I cook. Recently, I’ve been on a health kick that I hope lasts. But every time I see a recipe that calls for maple syrup instead of sugar, for example, or gluten-free flour instead of white flour or olive oil instead of butter and eggs, it makes me feel like I’m not loyal to the great chefs who have spent years honing recipes with the refined ingredients that, honestly, no longer fit into my lifestyle. It is difficult for me to feel like I’m connecting with my heritage, both the Iranian and English side when I am choosing healthier options. And in my brain, I feel like I can’t have it both ways. I have to make a choice, either enjoy the ghormeh sabzi or the sticky toffee pudding made of cane sugar and dripping with that dreamy butter, toffee sauce or be healthy. I literally have to remind myself that I can change how I eat day by day. I can eat salads one day and rice with stew another. I can be healthy 90% of the time and have that delectable dessert 10% of the time or I can make it 80/20.
I have spent quite a lot of my life thinking that if I support one thing, I can’t also support a competitor. One brand is good and the other is bad. Choosing a facewash means the end of the previous facewash. Even when it comes to the process in which I clean my house or whether I’m a morning person or not, I feel like I have to be loyal to the side I’ve chosen previously. It’s not that I didn’t like mornings before, it’s that I’d labeled myself a “night owl”, and by George, I was going to stay that way.
So how do I change this? I first need to understand that the only true loyalty I need to have is to myself. “To thine own self be true.” Someone recently quoted this to me. And secondly, I change it through constant reminders that I can explore different things throughout the world. I can make choices based on what I need in a moment. I can be a morning person on weekdays and still enjoy the nights on weekends. Or I can be a morning person until that no longer suits me. I can buy ribbon from my friend when I need silk ribbon and feel okay with also buying velvet vintage ribbon from someone else. If I like a birthday card that isn’t from Paper Source, that’s okay.
It takes a lot to change habits. And this habit of loyalty beyond reason is going to be a hard one to break. But if I’m going to be successful in life, to have the experiences that are right for me, I need to realize that the world is bigger than just one chef’s recipes, one way of thinking, or one shop that produces beautiful ingredients. For me, being open to change means being okay with just being me.