Last week I submitted some photos to a photography exhibition. I love to take photographs and probably have thousands on a stack of discs, but I've never actually had anything I've done shown to the public before - excluding the random photo I took at a conference in our company newsletter - and that was just because there weren't any others available.

So it was really hard to work up the courage to even take them down there to submit. It's not like this is even a big gig. It's a local show for amateur photography. But still. My precious pictures. Being offered up for criticism. To the public. This means I can no longer just secretly believe in my heart I have talent. Someone actually qualified would be the voice of reason to say yea or nay. I don't know if I can handle it.

When I was in high school, I took some photography courses as an elective. I learned to take and develop photos and do all sorts of cool darkroom tricks that are probably now made completely obsolete by digital cameras. My dream was to win one of those
coveted spots as Ansel Adams' student and stay at his home one summer, but I was always too busy and poor to really devote the time and effort to my photography skills that was required. I even considered majoring in photojournalism at one point in my life before college began and set up a make shift darkroom in my basement for awhile. Turns out, photography? Is expensive. It requires you purchase cameras, different types of lens, darkroom equipment, chemicals, and a never ending supply of film. Being a poor college student on a scholarship with only a part time job, I gave up the idea of majoring in photography once I found out the university I was headed for didn't supply film and resources.

So anyway, I got handed a flier for this exhibit a couple of weeks ago and thought - what the hell. I took four photos that I liked, framed them and brought them down on the day of submissions. The people were incredibly nice and even allowed me to submit all four of the photos I brought (the limit was three but I couldn't decide what to lose so they told me to put my husband's name on one of them and took them all). Then they handed me an information sheet and said, "Next Saturday, there will be a reception for all the photographers and their families. We hope you can make it." My first impulse was to say, "Oh, but I don't know the photographers" until I realized she meant me: I was the photographer. Which also meant a) she fully expected at least one of the photos to appear in the show and b) that the photos weren't so bad that they would look at them and immediately say, "Can you believe she thinks people want to look at THAT?"

It's funny, I've taken pictures for years, but I've never considered mys
elf a photographer. There are actually a lot of things I do, but don't consider myself a doer of those things.

A good deal of my job involves desktop publishing and graphic design. I edit and publish a newsletter and I design covers for publications and typeset the text. I love this part of my job. I love the creativity of taking an idea and representing it graphically. Of taking some one's words and making them look professional. Yet, I do not consider myself a graphic designer - I consider myself the person who does the graphic design because our budget is too
tight to hire a real one. This is always a point of contention between the KingofHearts and I. When I get frustrated with my job and mutter under my breath how I want to not work or when we talk about moving somewhere else where my job prospects would be more limited, his suggestion is always that I quit and work as a freelance designer from home. I, however, feel that my dabbling in graphic design is just that: maybe dabbling coupled with one semester of being the newsletter editor and taking a graphic design class in junior high school, but ultimately it boils down to just dabbling.

I administrate a website, but I am not an .html programmer.

I write and design a book each year for work, yet I do not consider myself an author.

This book has a statistical review in it, but I can't count myself as a researcher.

I am a trained musician, but have never been a performer.

I manage my company's computer network and yet when the occasion arises that I've requested help with some issue with the network and people ask to speak to my Network Administrator, I always say, "Oh we don't have one."

Am I the only one who does that? Is this a woman-thing or is this a me-thing?
Why are we compelled to sell ourselves short so often? The KingofHearts writes... writes well, in fact... but has of yet never had anything published. He considers himself a writer. Why can't I? I write this silly blog everyday. It's only been recently, and with much trepidation, that I even respond to the term mother... and I think that's just happened since The Dormouse started talking and calling me "momma" and made it completely unavoidable.

I'm not sure what there is in my makeup to minimize the things I do. I guess because in my profession, there's a big problem with people who aren't trained calling themselves therapists and that rubs me the wrong way, so without specific training in these other areas, I feel unqualified to say, "That is me. I am that." My whole life, my problem is that I'm interested in too many things. So I've never really focused on one thing long enough to get really good at it. Chalk it up to a short attention span, I guess. I can never stick with something long enough to... Look! A bird!

Last week, I found out that three of my four entries had been selected to appear in the show. I know it's just a local amateur's show, but it was kind of a big
deal to me and my normal blase attitude about stuff in general was exchanged for total excitement for a change. Yet that diminished somewhat, when I couldn't couldn't think of a single person to invite to the opening with me because it would mean telling someone I thought something I did was worth driving across town for. Ultimately, the only people whom I considered bringing were The Dormouse and The KingofHearts, and then he didn't make it back from whatever it was he was doing in time to be there. So I went there alone, with The Dormouse, and sat in a corner while all the other photographers reveled in the praise of their family and friends... and we ate all the cookies.

Turns out, the photo I was most confident about was the one they did not put in the show. So I guess I'm not much of a photography expert after all. The thing The Dormouse was most impressed by? Two of the pictures were of her.

The one that did not get selected.

Oh and also? The one hung in the most prominent spot in the show?
Is the one I put the KoH's name on. Figures.