The Visual Path To Solutions

jessica-dibbleBy Jessica Dibble

My biggest cheerleaders are my “worries” on the wall. In the middle of junior year, I am alone as my anxieties grow with a test approaching in Honors Pre-Calculus.  I grab my sticky note pad, write the worry about the test, and post it on my bed with the words: “Believe and Breathe” to calm myself. This becomes the birth of a habit that highlights the power of visuals in my life. By writing down a worry and viewing it, I am empowered to  overcome the challenge  in front of me.

Writing my worries on the wall also unites my two passions – psychology and photography. In my psychology class, I am drawn  to the problem-solving concepts of psychologists, specifically the idea of  writing as a tool to solve problems.Through my affinity for visuals, photography is my passion and a window into understanding people.

I remember the sight that made me realize the power of photography. She is in the back corner of  my eighth grade history class and I can’t stop staring at her. Surrounded by other posters, she draws me in with piercing green eyes. It’s the famous Afghan Girl by photographer Steve McCurry. I realize in that class that I am drawn to photography and as a budding photographer, I yearn to discover the context of the picture. I learn that the beautiful, striking girl is a refugee in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Hoping to understand the people around me on a deeper level, I bought my first camera after that class and started taking photography classes. The more I took pictures, the more curious I became about people in those pictures and their motivations. My hunger to understand people and their minds led me to one of my favorite classes in my junior year–psychology.

I studied the unique experiments and the special studies of people in Psychology, which connected my curiosity to photography and my love of portraits. The summer before my psychology class, I won a National Geographic photography fellowship to take pictures in Barcelona, where I walked around a cathedral and found a young girl in a pink dress heading toward the doors. Instead of stepping inside, she only poked her head through the doors. I decided to take a photo of the young girl because I could tell she was curious to see what was inside the cathedral yet scared to enter. I treasure this photograph because it represents the idea of taking a chance on the unknown.I wanted to capture optimism, and this image  portrays  a young girl taking a leap of faith. Even if I’m surrounded by sadness, I try to find a way to capture hope out of misery and bring optimism to others, just as writing my worries did for me.

Two years ago, my grandparents and cousins came to my house to celebrate my birthday, which I also share with my grandfather. We were all sitting in my backyard chatting and laughing together. I saw that my grandfather was sitting distant from us, observing our interactions. He had a smile on his face for the first time in months because he had been very sick. I knew at that moment that I wanted to capture  a photograph  of him.I approached him and asked him to look at me. I took the photo of him smiling and staring directly at the camera with his soft hazel eyes. I used this ordinary family gathering to create a picture that I now cherish deeply.

Today, I continue to write my worries to release tension at the end of the day. The  process of writing reawakens my confidence to pursue the exciting and challenging opportunities ahead, alongside  my friend, the camera. I have become more optimistic, the same quality I love to bring to photography and psychology.

Jessica Dibble, a graduate of Winston Churchill High School, will be a freshman at Wellesley College in the Fall, following her Gap Year.