Anxiety and Taking Chances

Photo taken by contributor Samantha Pugsley, a conceptual fine art photographer in her twenties from Charlotte, North Carolina. She first picked up a camera during her junior year of college. This was right around the time when she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Things that were once easy became impossible for her. Getting dressed in the morning, shopping at the grocery story, driving her car…just living, was a panic attack waiting to happen. Photography helped her heal. With her camera she could start a conversation about what was going on in her head. She could say things with her images that she didn’t know how to say out loud. She still struggles with anxiety but making art helps her talk about it and manage it. She started a 365 photography project to ensure that she’d be doing what brings her joy every single day. She has noticed that her anxiety level is much lower if she spends time with her camera every day.

About this photo: “Where I live in North Carolina barely ever sees snow. The most I’ve seen in the past decade are some flurries and one time where we got almost an inch of ice that covered that the ground (which doesn’t really count as snow). Several months ago, we got hit with a huge snow storm (by NC standards). We ended up with nine inches. It started very abruptly and quickly accumulated. On the day that the snow began, I was getting ready for the day and kept staring out the window. I have always wanted to shoot in the snow. As usual, anxiety was holding me back. Though the roads were fine, my anxiety told me I’d get somewhere and then the roads would all of a sudden turn into a sheet of ice and leave me stranded. Second, having never thought I’d get the opportunity to shoot in a storm like this, I had no idea where to go or what I would do when I got there. Third, I had no idea how to protect my camera or how to shoot in snowy conditions. And worst case scenario, I’d get lost in the woods/buried under an avalanche/eaten by a snow bear and eventually die. All of that together, I basically had given up on the idea.

Thank goodness for my husband. After I told him all of this he simply said, “You probably won’t get another chance like this.”

What powerful words. My anxiety was causing me to pass up on an opportunity I might not have again for another decade. Or maybe never. I wasn’t willing to take that chance. I loaded my gear, headed to the nearest nature preserve and had an amazing, educational, life changing experience. Not only that, but the photos I ended up with landed me on Flickr’s Explore for three days in a row!

Personally, I think it’s some of my best work to date because of the obstacles I had to overcome to the get the shots. And yes, I was anxious. I had to fight my inner panic and resist the urge to give up. And I am so glad I didn’t because I was able to learn how incredibly valuable it is to take chances. I felt so alive while shooting in the forest. The absolute silence of a snowy forest is one of the most peaceful and beautiful things I have yet to experience. Being alone and doing what I love surrounded by such immense beauty – it was nothing short of powerful.

Samantha = 1, Anxiety = 0.”

Find more from Samantha at her website or flickr.


**Visit Broken Light’s main gallery here. Currently accepting submissions.

*Facebook & Twitter @BrokenLighCo & @DanielleHark. Follow for e-mail notifications.

9 thoughts on “Anxiety and Taking Chances

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  1. Hi Samantha, this is a great story, as is your background story- you made my day! Hang in there. I, too, am experiencing a great deal of anxiety in my life, and photography was helping, but I’ve got a problem with my camera right now which hopefully will soon get straightened out . . . Thanks for the great picture, too . . Sam


  2. Amazing story… i’m impresed! It’s much more than a picture (but the photo is also very very very good!), it’s so fantasitc that photography can be for us such a cure! Can’t believe it! Keep going Samantha you’re my new idol! 🙂


  3. beautiful! and I loved your story. I know at the first snow this winter my young son and I drove out to a natural park and I took some wonderful photos. We had no idea the amount of snow that would follow this past winter. This was only our 2nd winter in Delaware and last year I believe there was only snow once and it was barely anything.


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