Passport Photos & Other Humbling Phenomena

Me on general looking-nice days.


Don’t know about you, but I question my self-image every time I have to get passport photos taken. I got some just over a week ago and I remember looking at them thinking “is this really how I’ve looked today?” ‘cause I was REALLY feeling myself! (you know, before the passport photos told me to promptly stop feeling myself.) However, something different happened this time: I chuckled, shrugged it off, and told myself that they’re just passport photos. Although that’s a sign of great progress, that event made me realize how often I let things like this get to me. And it got me thinking about how I react to other low points in my life.

Hi, I’m Céline. And today my topic is: defining yourself.

I’m an acting student from South Africa, studying at the New York Film Academy in LA. I got cast into a play and the final rehearsal and first two performances went really well. I reached an emotional connection I hadn’t previously known I could reach. Suddenly I started doubting myself—I wondered if I could reach that level for another performance. “Am I that good? Did I just get lucky? What if I don’t cry this time—will they think I’m terrible?” and other Imposter-Syndrome-ass questions. Naturally, I didn’t do as well. I wasn’t “in the moment,” as us struggling artists say. No one in the audience thought that, but obviously I had my own expectations for myself that I did not reach.

B: My Passport Photo

I went home that night on the verge of tears (too little too late, eh?) thinking that I was a terrible actor. Seriously. I told a friend who’d been there on the first night, who reassured me that these things happen, that even the best actors have bad days. But it wasn’t enough for me. After another attempt at comforting me, I realized what I was doing. I was defining myself according to my low point. I decided that my talent and skill as an actor was reflected in my ‘worst’ performance. I realized I’d ignored all my great performances and focused only on the passport photo of my performances, if I may.

So, I got out of my feelings, remembered who TF I am and decided to believe I was as good as I’d been in the first 3 performances. And lo and behold, final performance was great!

What we believe about ourselves has such tremendous power.

Now, I look crusty as hell in picture B, but if I spent my days thinking I looked like that, people would see me as that. Maybe I look like that first thing in the morning—who knows? I only put my contacts on later so what I don’t see won’t kill me. But it’s so much more fun deciding I’m Beyoncé and living my life as that, so why not?

In closing, I’d like to emphasize how powerful our minds are. By being on this earth, occupying our bodies, we get to decide who and what we are. So, are you your passport photo or your glamour shot?



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