I squirmed in my seat waiting for my time to speak. We were participating in a mastermind group and I was surrounded by incredible women who spoke so eloquently about their businesses and dreams. I was nervous and my palms were sweating. Then it was my turn. I casually spit out a few generic things about feeling like my website and online presence didn’t represent who I was. And then the bomb hit when someone called me out in the very best kind of way. She said, “Emily, you don’t know who you are because you don’t know what you want. What do you want!?” I sat there for a moment just trying to process what she had said and I realized that I wasn’t being open. I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted, but I was afraid. So I fumbled on my words for a few more seconds and then burst into tears……
And because of that, I’ve always been afraid that people won’t like me. It’s a horrible way to think, but I do it to myself all the time.
I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. Most people have likely heard the term “Mormon.” Because of my beliefs and personal lifestyle choices that I make on a daily basis, I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. IN MY MIND (because we always build things up in there, right?) there has always been a negative conotation about my religion and how “peculiar" we are. I rarely talk about it because I worry that people will judge me. I've never completely let my “work” friends and clients dig deep into who I am because I’m scared, so unbelievably scared, of rejection.
So when my friend looked into my eyes and said, “Emily, you don’t know who you are because you don’t know what you want” I LISTENED because that’s the rules in the mastermind group—you take all the advice and don’t combat it.
As I blubbered through my feelings, I anticipated rejection and weird looks in return….. but OHHHH the love and acceptance I received instead!
They listened. They encouraged. They accepted me. We all had a good cry. The kind of cry that made me wake up with puffy eyes the next morning. I had finally let it out, all my worries and fears and reasons why I love this part of my life so much. I got to tell them how for me, my religion means a commitment to family and love for all eternity. As I looked around the room, I realized that these women loved and accepted me for who I was. They reminded me that we all have the power to change a perception, simply by being our most sincere and authentic self. It felt like this huge weight had been lifted from my heart and in it's place, a growing belief that my clients and peers would see my religion as something that adds value to our relationship, instead of taking away from it.
So what is it that I want?
- I want people to know that my religion is a huge part of who I am.
- I want people to know that Mormons are different, but not like you may initially perceive.
- I want people to know that I love marriage and family.
- I want people to know that I love photographing temple weddings.
- I want people to know that I believe our differences make us beautiful.
We all have unique differences. We all have the desire in our heart to be loved, accepted and appreciated for who we are.
It’s a busy and noisy world out there. What makes you different from the next person?
I’m Emily Gibby. I'm a wife, mother and photographer. And I’m a Mormon.
I don't write a ton of personal posts, but two years ago I took a chance and wrote one which ultimately lead to some of incredible friendships I have developed with the women in the picture at the top. Check it out.
Check out my LDS Temple Photography Bucket List, too!