Photo taken by contributor Carrie Hilgert, a 36-year-old photographer and portrait artist from Northeast Kansas. After venturing into digital photography, she became interested in documenting her life with self portraits. This became particularly helpful when her life started to fall apart due to depression. All her other creative outlets left her, but she could always process her very dark feelings with self portraits. While she is doing much better now, she maintains compassion for those going through these hard things and hopes that her photography can give an honest insight into something that makes most people feel very isolated and alone.
About this photo: “To my only daughter,
I’ve been thinking so much about you lately, although I’m not sure why. As you know, usually my thoughts are consumed with sleep and my social media obsession, but you should know I do think about you and your brothers all the time too. Mostly I think about how time got away from me and instead of this quirky little poppet toddling around, sassing everyone in her path, you have somehow magically grown into this tall, willowy 13 year old with a mind full of creativity and a steely resolve to be unique in this world of sheep.
I feel like I failed you as a woman for many years. I can’t apologize anymore for making choices I thought were right; staying in a marriage to keep from tearing my family apart or making decisions based on a faith I no longer subscribe to. As mother and daughter, our journeys are forever intertwined, affecting one another in ways we can’t even fathom now. It’s a hefty thought, but ultimately we all just have to deal with the aftermath of that somehow.
I have no doubt you will turn your experiences into something beautiful. Just as I am doing now. I see that in you.
I thought I would give you some other things to think about while I’m at it. Just so I have some peace of mind that we covered these topics.
1. There are good men out there, but there are no perfect men. Remember that you’re not perfect either but keep your standards high. You will fall in love, hopefully many times but the capacity to fall in love with someone doesn’t always mean you are meant to be together. This is a hard lesson to learn.
2. Chicken in the skillet is always better when the outside is crispy.
3. Don’t follow any of my laundry practices. Google it instead.
4. Someday you will be glad you have brothers. I know you don’t believe me now, but a couple of them are going to come in really handy at some point. Think moving day, creepy boys with borderline stalker behavior, etc.
5. Be a person of respect. Respect other’s beliefs, lifestyle choices and practices. You don’t have to agree with them to be friends with them. And you don’t have to be friends with them either. I’m just saying, be confident enough with yourself that no one else makes you feel threatened somehow. Give people the freedom to be who they are and you will get that in return.
6. When you come across someone who truly does try to threaten your life choices, just keep walking. Life is too short to include such people in your life. Especially the ones who use fear tactics.
7. Don’t ignore creativity. Sometimes that means you’re going to burn dinner. But that’s ok. It’s that important.
8. The things you hate about yourself are the things someone else might love someday. At the very least, they won’t even matter to the right person.
9. Sometimes it’s ok to sniff your sharpie. Just don’t let it be a gateway drug.
10. You don’t like your body very much now, but remember to talk to yourself as you would a best friend. Try to listen to your thoughts about other people’s bodies and give yourself the same grace.
11. Be happy. Just be happy. It’s not that hard. Do things that make you happy. When you’re happy, so is everyone else around you. It’s the greatest thing you can do in your life.”