How letting go of my insecurities and learning to take risks changed my life

When it came to writing this week's blog I was really trying to think of ways that I could help girls get over the fear of entering our Model Search and Confidence Campaign. All too often myself and the team at Country Girl Management hear stories of girls who would love to enter the event but just don't have the confidence, feel they don't 'look like a model', or are simply too terrified of putting themselves out there and giving modelling a go. Sometimes, no matter how much we try to convince girls to take the first step, the inner bully just takes over.

The Country Girl Management Team at the 2017 April National Qualifying Finals

The more I thought about how I could help girls take this big, scary, TERRIFYING first step, the more it only felt right for me to share a bit about myself. More specifically, share a bit about how letting go of my own insecurities and taking a good photo (and admitting to myself that I LIKED the photo) changed my life. I hope that reading a bit about my own experience will help you, or someone you know, take the first step and challenge them to do something that does really scare them – whether that's with our Model Search and Confidence Campaign or not.

So, for those of you that don't know me, my name is Cassie. I am an event coordinator for CGM and the one behind all of the blogs you read on the website. I am also one of the ones at the CGM events who teaches girls how to pose for their photoshoots.

There are three things you should know about me -

The first thing you need to know – I struggled for a long time, like many of us do, with my own body image.

It's really hard to be happy in our own skin when we surround ourselves with images of 'perfection' on Instagram, Facebook, in magazines, and on TV. The reality is that we all have things that make us unique and things that make us different to others. For most of us, it's also the reality that there are things that we don't really like about ourselves. A lot of the time there's not much we can do to change the things we don't like. For me, going through high school I was always incredibly self conscious of my skin. There was a period of time that I avoided mirrors because I just didn't want to look at myself. I also did not have photos taken. Unfortunately, the affect this had on my own body image and self confidence was intense. When you couple that with negative school yard comments where your insecurities are highlighted, all too quickly you can fall into a spiral of self doubt and insecurities.

I can tell you firsthand that those kind of self image issues really limited my life. I wouldn't put myself out there, talk to new people, or be confident in my own abilities because I just didn't believe I was 'pretty' enough. I would constantly look around myself and think 'all of these girls are so much prettier than me'. I would also constantly compare myself to others. The main thing I learnt from doing this was that when you compare yourself to others, you are instantly making yourself vulnerable to self hate. I also learnt that if you cruise through life basing your confidence purely on your looks then you are going to be on a constant emotional roller coaster as your looks are ALWAYS changing.

The ways I worked past my negative self image were:

- I stopped basing my self worth on my appearance. I started basing it on my achievements and accomplishments – I started focusing on moving forward.

- I stopped comparing myself to others. I started appreciating others for their strengths as well as valuing me for mine.

- I stopped playing it safe. I started trying new things, putting myself out there, and avoided being so critical of myself.

The second thing you need to know – I have always hated getting my photo taken. In fact, I used to truly believe that I was just incapable of taking a good photo.

If I teleported back to my 16-year-old self, I can guarantee you that the idea of having a photoshoot with a professional fashion photographer would have made me feel ill. I actually remember having a family photoshoot and only being comfortable because of the 3 hours of hair and makeup that I was given. Having the photoshoot, however, was only the tip of the iceberg for me. For me, looking back at the photos that were taken of me and having others look at them as well was an incredibly daunting and uncomfortable experience. I felt that I constantly looked awkward. I felt I was always the ugliest in a photo.

I felt like even when I could look into the mirror and be happy with what I saw, that person looking back at me in the mirror just never joined me in a photo. It took me a very long time to realise that perhaps the reason I wasn't getting photos that I liked of myself was simply because I'd never learnt how to take a good photo. It actually took me until I was trained as a pose coach at Country Girl Management to truly realise that taking a good photo is all about angles and that taking a bad photo doesn't mean you are just unattractive.

The things that transformed my inability to take a good photo to a love for teaching girls how to pose in their photoshoots were:

- Learning that everyone has different angles that work for them in a photo.

- Realising that feeling real emotion in a photoshoot and embracing that emotion with both your body and face is the key to a great photo.

- Looking back at the photos taken of myself with an objective eye – being careful not to attack the things I may not like about myself.

The third and final thing you need to know about me – My life STARTED when I stopped being so self critical, challenged myself to take risks, and forgave myself for the times when I made mistakes.

Sometimes I have to really pinch myself when I look at how far I've come. How much your life really can change when you learn to love yourself. I mean, how crazy is it that someone like me – someone who struggled with body image and hated getting photos – could go on to teach girls how to build their confidence and take amazing photos?

I went from being someone who was focused on trying to fit in and look like everyone else to being someone who appreciated their own assets. The amount of amazing experiences and friendships I have gained since I have began to love myself is actually incredible. When I let go of my own insecurities, the world really opened up. I now feel happy – truly happy. Obviously there are days that I still have self doubt – this is normal. But I am now able to handle this and move forward from it. Opportunities became apparent that I'd never seen before and the days I spent being HAPPY far outweighed those that I spent being SAD.

Finally, a photo that I can admit that I REALLY DO LIKE!

I hope reading a bit about me has shown you that sometimes taking a risk, putting yourself out there, and embracing the chance to build your confidence could be a game changer. At the CGM Model Search and Confidence Campaign events you will most likely be put out of your comfort zone. You might also be challenged to try things you haven't tried before. What I can guarantee you though is this: every single girl there – even each of US in the CGM team – has gone through some level of self doubt. You are not alone. If you give it a go, this could be the event that changes your life for the better.

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About the Author : Country Girl