Dare To Be You

My whole life, I’ve never felt like I fitted in. I’ve always struggled with society’s expectations of girls and the misogyny and discrimination which lurks in the barely concealed shadows. I attended a selective Grammar school yet my family were northern and working class, and living with a foot in each world only served to tear me down the middle. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, though I’m not shy and am totally happy in my own skin. The notion that one must be lonely unless surrounded by other people baffles me. I am what is termed an outgoing introvert. My worst nightmare is being invited to a party, but at the same time I love giving talks and sharing a part of myself with an audience.

I’m not very good at being a sheep or towing the party line. My opinions frequently get me into trouble and I’ve been dismissed and talked down to more times than I care to admit. As a younger person this made me question myself, but these days I see conflict as a sign that I’m doing something right. Ruffling feathers and challenging the status quo, especially when the status quo is predominantly male.

As we age we grow into ourselves. Being in my 50s is amazing. I have totally let go of other people’s opinions and expectations of me and it is liberating beyond comprehension to walk in the world without apology. With every passing day I become more authentically me. It’s been a hard fought battle against oppression, discrimination and invisibility and there have been many attempts to extinguish my light yet my flame burns brighter than ever.

Creation is self expression and over the past few years I’ve seen my creative photographs mature. They contain strong women and challenge society’s norms. Some viewers are open to that and some aren’t – I genuinely don’t care either way. As artists we need to speak our truth, even if not everyone is willing to listen.

We have a responsibility to become the fullest, truest version of ourselves and in doing so our creativity flourishes. Dare to be different. Dare to be free. Dare to be you.

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