The Power to Change the World by First Changing Ourselves
In the not too distant past, things that people would have said about me are that I was…
Perfect* (that sounds like a good descriptor, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute)
Fast forward a few years, to today, and if you ask most people who know me, these are some of the things they would say about me now:
Inspiring and changing women’s lives
You’re probably thinking, wow, vastly different descriptions of the Karianne not too long ago vs the Karianne today.
So what changed?
That’s what I want to share with you today: that we all have the power to change the world by first changing ourselves.
You’ve likely heard these lyrics (with a slight revision by me) from Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson:
“I’m starting with the woman in the mirror
I’m asking her to change her ways
And no message could’ve been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
The Karianne not too long ago looked in the mirror and didn’t like the person she saw. I had low self esteem, low self worth, I WAS cold and abrasive, I was hiding behind a mask of perfection so no one would judge or criticize the person I was, I was horribly critical of myself and my body and spoke terribly to myself.
I looked in that mirror and made the choice to change myself.
Growing up, I had the notion of the “perfect” exterior life modeled for me. If you have a nice house, nice cars, nice things, and go on nice vacations, and everyone looks pretty, then everyone will think you/your family is perfect. So as a young adult, I followed that model and continued to do all of life “perfectly.”
And while it may have looked perfect on the outside, it was far from perfect on the inside.
What did this amazing perfectionism get me?
Isolation/no deep relationships
An eating disorder
And worst of all, I had no idea who I was or what I wanted.
I looked hard in that mirror and made the choice to change myself.
A few years later, as I was building my business, I looked around and realized…I had no photos of myself. During the past decade, I had put on weight, my body wasn’t perfect enough, so I didn’t want to be in pictures. But as the face of my business, I knew I needed them.
I booked a photo session, and going into it, I was filled with so much anxiety. My clothes weren’t perfect enough; my body still wasn’t perfect enough. The negative voices in my head were in full blast and saying, “Kari, you’re too fat to be photographed. Kari, no one wants to photograph you. Kari, who do you think you are?” But still, I knew I needed to do this. So, I took a deep breath, tuned out the negative voices the best that I could, and went for it.
And guess what happened?
I had fun! The photographer made me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. And when I saw the final portraits of myself, I saw the real me—not the outer me—the me in my soul looking back at me. I saw that I didn’t have to have the perfect clothes and the perfect body to exist beautifully in photos, to love the woman who I saw staring back at me. I didn’t have to be “perfect” for anyone or at anything, I just had to show up as the real, authentic me and THAT WAS ENOUGH.
I looked in that mirror and again made the choice to change myself.
The culmination of those experiences lead to me digging deep, to learning more and more about how perfectionism was holding me back, to learning how to manage that self-bully voice in my head so that I could fully live the life that I desired.
Fast forward again to today, as a photographer, I help women see their real selves through business branding and personal portraits. I am an advocate in the body image movement. And through my anti-perfectionism coaching, I help women manage the perfectionist voice in their own heads.
Today I reflect:
Inspiring and changing women’s lives
I looked in the mirror and didn’t like the person I saw.
I looked in that mirror and made the choice to change MYSELF.
And in the process, I started to change the lives of the women, to change the world, around me.
And you have the power to do that too.