Do you remember the first time you ever had a s’more? I do like it was yesterday—because it practically was. I had my first ever s’more only a few months ago.
I had decided as a kid that marshmallows were absolutely disgusting. Since I didn’t like one of the main ingredients, I never tried a s’more.
That is, until I went out backpacking and one of the guys brought the fixings for s’mores. I decided to try one. I realized that I hadn’t had a marshmallow in fifteen years. If I still didn’t like them, I could pawn my half-eaten s’more off on any of the four hungry men I was camping with. And just maybe, my tastes had changed.
To no one’s surprise but my own, I found that I had changed. It turns out that s’mores are delicious.
I took the whole event as a reminder of one of those cliché-but-true life lessons: don’t let how you’ve defined yourself keep you from trying new things. You just might like them.
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The problem is, I should have already known that lesson by heart. As most of you know, I work professionally as an art nude model. It’s both my livelihood and my main artistic outlet.
I also grew up as a tomboy. I despised everything girly: I bound my breasts, and refused to wear normal girls’ clothes or let my hair down from its characteristic ponytail. When I was in high school, it was so uncommon for me to wear a dress that the few times I did it was to win a bet.
Tomboy me wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing makeup, let alone being in front of a camera. But I did try modeling (fittingly, also on a bet from my best friend). And I loved it, not because it was “girly,” but because it allowed me to create interesting visual art with nothing but my body. I learned that modeling wasn’t girly at all—it was actually quite physically challenging. And I learned that a surprising number of other models, now my friends and coworkers, weren’t very girly either. A lot of them were tomboys like me.
But I wouldn’t have discovered any of that if I hadn’t been flexible about what I thought I already knew. I wouldn’t have experienced what is now one of the most important parts of my life.
It’s not just me. Many people will express an interest in modeling to me, but there’s always a reason why it’s not right for them or why they haven’t tried it. They don’t like how they look in photographs. They’re not comfortable with nudity or with posing in front of a group of people. They’re too old, young, fat, skinny, tall, short, or not pretty enough.
Although I always try to be supportive, I want to tell them that all their excuses are marshmallows. They are all labels that they have created to describe themselves that may or may not be accurate.
Sometimes people change. Sometimes you change, but unless you’re constantly questioning and updating your own mental labels, you don’t notice. And you can end up missing out on opportunities because you think you already know the answer. Imagine how many more s’mores I would have eaten and enjoyed if I had been a bit more on top of things. Imagine what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t been willing to give modeling a try.
If you don’t want to miss your own s’mores, ask yourself: what are the things in your life that you’ve defined as “not you?” Are they holding you back? Are they wrong? And if you’re one of those people that wants to try modeling (or anything else) but has a reason why it’s not for you, try it anyway. You just might find out that you like it.