What is the deal with all of the throwback headshots? Yes, I came of age in the era of Seinfeld, so whenever I wonder about something, I articulate my curiosity by asking, “What is the deal….?”
When all of those throwback headshots started appearing on Facebook, I didn’t really get it. Which is my usual feeling about tests and weird happenings on Facebook. Remember the creepy thing where you see what you’d look like as the opposite gender or the movie star one? I kept getting a picture of Cleopatra—the 30 BC one, not the gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor version–until I intentionally manipulated my face to get Grace Kelly. Or the tests! My goodness, the tests! Which ______ (enter any character from anything ever…Disney princess, Harry Potter, Sex and the City…I could go one) are you? Don’t even get me started on the personality tests combined with the Star Wars characters. What’s up all you May 4th people! By the way, I did not even know that was a thing until last year. Whoops!
The closer I get to this Tuesday, which just happens to be my 40th birthday, (!!!) the more I understand the “throwbacks,” the “tbt” posts, and of course, the old headshot posts. When time goes by at what feels like lightning speed, there are so few times to stop and ask, “How did I get here?” These throwback posts are just a way of pausing and getting back at that question.
It is a question that can be asked with varying intonation and therefore, meaning. It can be asked with a sense of joy, wonder, and amazement. Or, it can carry with it echoes of deep disappointment, heartache, and regret. Or, what I imagine is the sentiment for many of us, there is an uncomfortable and confusing mixture of both. What I would hope, is that however you ask that question it would be infused with a sense of profound GRACE and enlivening HOPE.
This is my throwback headshot. It is also my ONLY headshot. I was 23 and the Bob Dylan lyric “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” perfectly describes my relationship to this photo…to that woman. I did not have a clue what I was doing–other than having a really great hairstylist (Shout to to Amy Bozer at Gary Manuel Salon who is STILL my hair guru)–but I felt like I knew everything.
Ironically, I had my headshot taken at a moment in my life where I had little to NO ambition. For so many of my friends who are posting their old headshots, I can almost see the ambitious dreams coming out of their pores–all the roles they would get, the thought that Spielberg or Scorsese would just happen to come to one of their performances (at the local community theatre, or even better, tiny liberal arts Christian college) and everything would change in an instant when they would be “discovered.”
There was a time where I wouldn’t have been able to look back at this headshot without a hefty dose of judgment. Why didn’t I really pursue my singing? I could have…should have…would have…you know…all of the judge-y things we say about, and worse, TO ourselves.
That is where grace comes into the picture. When I look back at the person in this picture, I look at her with compassion and grace. At this point, I was less concerned with dreams of being discovered, of fame and fortune, than I was with simply trying to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other and continue to learn how to live life without my sister who had passed away a few years before. I was also trying to figure out how to be married when, as my children like to remind me, my husband’s and my pre-frontal cortexes were not fully developed when we got married. Thanks, kids!! AND…we had only dated for 3 months before getting engaged…so there’s that. That is a story for another blog post. (Spoiler alert–we’ve been married almost 17 years and we are beautifully and imperfectly killin’ it. Love you, babe!)
But I don’t just look at that picture with grace. I look at it as someone with HOPE. My headshot is funny to me because a singer was only one of the MANY things I wanted to be “when I grew up”….and i don’t know about you, but I would have said as a child that 40 sounds like a grown up. Here are all of the things I’ve wanted to be: tennis player, actress, veterinarian, pediatrician, sports reporter, Oprah, a senator, consultant (on everything), singer, writer, speaker, and my VERY FIRST and absolute FAVORITE vocational aspiration of all time (with the exception of Oprah)…..a philanthropist!!! And, Oprah actually gets to be both Oprah and a philanthropist. I communicated this desire to the entire church congregation during a children’s sermon in response to the simple question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I was 8-years-old. I have no idea how I even knew what that was. But let’s be honest….I still totally want to be a philanthropist.
The HOPE comes from the fact that my story is not over. I still want to be all of these things. Well, maybe not all. Some doors just close…like doors with a lot of math behind them and 7-10 years of additional schooling. Goodbye, medical career! Or, ones that I’ve soured on a bit thanks to the surrounding culture–our political climate doesn’t seem like an ideal environment for someone whose number one Strengthsfinder strength is empathy. So, I’m okay that my political career probably reached its end with my 1996 senior class presidency and I’ll likely never be a senator.
There is so much grace because that 23-year-old had no idea that even though she didn’t have that same ambitious spirit anymore regarding her singing career, the God who knows her inside and out would give her so many opportunities to sing over the next 17 years even though it would look different than she thought. She had no idea that God would also surprise the hell out of her and lead her into ministry–ministry where she would get to sing a ton, write, speak, and lord knows “consult”–a lot! And there is so much hope because this almost 40-year-old is just getting started and is excited to see what is next. I have no doubt that in 20 years from now, I’ll still need to stop and ask “how did I get here?” and look back at who I am now with grace and hope.
Looks like it is time to get a new headshot.