Who's Afraid Of The Dark?

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Running a small business can be scary sometimes.  Just making the decision to take the plunge and bet on oneself was an exercise in overcoming self-doubt.

There are many days where the feeling of "I don't know, what I don't know" reminds me of stumbling around in the dark.

When I was very young I was afraid of the dark.

It was paralyzing.

The bedtime ritual consisted of mom closing the closet door and me leaping while attempting to avoid placing my ankles anywhere near the bed (you know, where the "floor dwellers" can grab you and pull you under....)

Once she turned out the lights, the door had to be cracked and the hall lamp was turned on. If I had to get up in the middle of the night, I flung myself far off the bed like a long jumper trying to win gold and then I sprinted towards whatever light I could frantically find.

As a child I didn't know how to calm those phobias, at all.  My imagination took over, the monsters in the closet moved, the floor dwellers were waiting and the hall light always seemed turned off when I needed it most.

During my various Navy training experiences I learned how to swallow those intense fears. I remember being underwater in Dive School with no visibility, suppressing that creeping panic feeling as my heavy boots sank into the Florida mud. My inner voice was telling me "don't think about what may be approaching" in the murky depths as I tried to focus on my practical. 

I eventually learned how to control my rate of breathing, push aside the crazy thoughts of sharks, monsters and ankle grabbers. It's just as well since shooting to the surface wasn't an option unless I wanted to subject my lungs to an embolism.

Now as a small businesswoman I periodically have to shut down that inner bully, put myself back underwater and reflect on that training. Except now the closet and the floor dwellers are the IRS and taxes, and the murky water is the never ending race for customer satisfaction. 

Recently, I found myself in a dark field in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia.  I let my buddy Dennis talk me into joining him to take pictures of star trails. He neglected to mention two things: the 19 degree weather that waited for us and a reminder that I may still be scared of the dark.

Big Meadows, Virginia, 1 March 2020

Not wanting to make a big deal about the childhood fear,  I made sure to keep close to Dennis as we trudged across the field to find the best spot to capture a subject with the star filled sky.

That worked for about five minutes until I realized I dropped a glove at the point of entry and had to circle back on my own to retrieve it.  Even though we both had headlamps on, we needed to limit their use so we didn't disrupt each others' long exposure process (or anyone else's in the area.)

Dennis illuminated by my headlamp (as I failed to make it into the picture on time!)

Now I know you are wondering, did my childhood fear of the dark sneak into that field?

I won't lie, I felt the creeping panic sensation, but because the science behind taking these types of pictures requires so much concentration, I re-focused on the task at hand, and quickly forgot about the circling "sharks."  The only benefit of the brutally cold weather was that it limited our time on station, which helped speed up my departure from that inky darkness.

The next time you have doubts about achieving your goals, lock up the closet full of imaginary monsters, suppress that inner bully and focus on the prize.   You got this!

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” 


246 images taken over a period of 62 mins; Nikon D850, 13sec, f/2.8, ISO 1000, 11mm

Want to see more images from that photo shoot?  Check out the rest of the images in the gallery

Laura Hatcher is a retired Naval Officer, Mother, Harley Rider and Published Professional Photographer located in Northern Virginia.  Her Studio is on 218 North Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

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