My name is Kate, and I care what you think.

My name is Kate, and yes, I do care what you think.

I wonder if you like the dress I picked out. I wonder if taking the time to blow dry my hair was worth it. I wonder if I look like I am trying to hard when I wear hats - no matter how much I like wearing them. I wonder if I will ever be a good enough photographer to make a living after I finish school. I wonder if my skins looks as translucent and grey to you as it does to me after I have pulled an all nighter. I wonder if you notice it as much as I do that my smile isn't symmetrical. I wonder if people really even like my photographs. I wonder if I look silly with red lipstick on when I want to dress up. I wonder if people think I am pretentious or just understand that sometimes I am just painfully shy. I still wake up some days and wonder if people think I am fat. I wonder if boys find me attractive. I wonder if girls think I look stupid for wearing my Keds with a dress to a party. I wonder if I am enough - camera or no camera - for the people around me to want to be my friend. 

Yes, I care what you think.

If I tried to say that I don't give a hoot what other people think about me, I guess I am not really lying, because truth be told, on a good day I give about five hoots and on a bad day, ten.

I can't speak for other people, so I won't try to, but from my experience talking with friends, co-workers, acquaintances or even random strangers at a store, I think it's safe to say that most of us care what other people think to some degree. I think it's really ironic and almost humorous that even my friends who try really hard to act like they don't care at all have to expend enormous amounts of efforts keeping up a reputation for "not caring."

I care. Maybe you'll admit that you care too. 

The rest of this blog is going to be written from the standpoint that I care what other people think of me and am assuming that my readers probably at least care a little - if this doesn't apply to you, then I suppose you can stop reading now. (and maybe shed some secrets on how you escaped the self doubt game that so many of us seem to be playing eternally)

Something that I say a lot is that I want to make photographs because I want people to know that they matter. 

You matter, and I want to show that you matter. 

That is my philosophy, but tonight, I asked myself whether or not my day to day interactions- camera or no camera - convey that same message. I also started thinking about a lot of the advice that I have been given/have given others when I am struggling with self doubt - ranging from my career desires to physical vanities.

Some phrases that I often hear go a little something like this. (these aren't verbatim of course - they morph around based on the situations.) and my sarcastic mental dialogue responses are in italics. 

"Don't let other people define you." - Too late. 

"You have to feel beautiful to you. Stop worrying what other people think." - Well, I feel pretty blah today and am a human with emotions just like the rest of the humans. Is there a magic potion that can help me stop caring at all? If so, sign me up.

"You're ridiculous for thinking that kind of thing." - Cool. I'm really winning today. I'll add stop being ridiculous to my list of things I should improve on.

"Who cares if he thinks your pretty. Do you think you're pretty?" - No. I am a girl who struggles with self doubt in a media saturated world telling me I have to look and dress a certain way to be desirable. I don't always wake up feeling like a movie star. If I felt like a super model, would we be having this conversation?

You know what all these phrases have in common? They make the person who is already struggling with doubt tack on more things to get anxious over. 

What if instead of telling a person that he or she needs to muster up some inner strength and feel beautiful, we just told that person that he or she is beautiful.

What if we stopped telling people to not let other people define them and instead listed out the incredible, beautiful and important assets that they bring to the table.

I would love to live in a world where girls were getting enough love, support and validation from their communities that they didn't feel the need to post countless "selfies" through a plethora of social media outlets each day and obtain "X" amount of "likes" in order to simply feel like they are enough.

I would love to live in a world where I didn't get strange looks for complimenting strangers on how rockin' their bone structure is.

I would love to live in a world where we all freely expressed our thoughts on the beauty we see in the people around us.

It will probably never make much sense to me that our world assumes that people just innately know their worth.

How in the world is anyone going to know that he or she is beautiful/smart/funny/talented/important/enough/anyothercomplimentyoucanthink of, without someone telling them?

Does a symphony conductor simply stand in front of a crowd of musicians and do nothing? No, he tells them what to do.

Does a sports coach expect his players to read his mind at practice? No, he tells them what play to run.

Does a mom expect her children to just innately know that a stove is hot? No, she tells them that it is hot. 

If all these examples hold true, then why do we expect other people to know things about themselves that no one has ever told them? 

Tell someone why he or she matters to you. Tell your female friend that she is beautiful instead of telling her she should just know that she is beautiful. Tell your guy friend that you can tell he has been working out rather than just expecting him to assume you notice. Tell your mom that she is your biggest role model instead of letting her wonder if she has raised you well. 

Tell ______________ that he or she is enough. 

I'll get off my soapbox and leave you with a quote from my own beautiful mother.

"With every person you encounter take a moment. You will find something to compliment them on. It is called being intentional in your relationships. It is simple. Let others know they are valued."

Love you guys, 

- Kate

PS. Model credits to my girl Shelby York :) thanks for running around in a field with me today and celebrating the beginning of summer!