When I graduated from high school I had completed every photography course offered and a few independent studies. My plan was to pursue photography. Like many young minds I approached my passion with all the knowledge and hormones of your average teenager. I was going to be a "real" photographer (insert eye roll from older and wiser self). I started the daunting task of looking at art schools. They were EXPENSIVE.
I come from a long line of hard working farmers and tradesmen. There's no way my family could afford to help me with this, and there was no way I was asking. I knew if I wanted this degree, paying for it would be on me. My dreams were deflated. I decided to take a year off from school to work and reassess. That year, turned into three years. After spending that time at a dead end job, I realized I needed to make a change. FAST. I went back to school. As money was still an issue, I enrolled at the school my mom worked at and in doing so was afforded a full ride. The drawback, at this particular institution, degrees in art weren't offered... But who in their right mind walks away from a full ride? No one.
I pursued a degree in Business Management. I assumed this was my ticket to the photography business bus I was longing to ride. After knocking out my undergrad credits I dug into what it would take to finish with a BA in Business Management. This was about the time I learned about the senior project. For anyone else getting this degree, this project was the ultimate opportunity. This was your chance to prove yourself in front of not only your class and professor but the ENTIRE business class and faculty, a group of community members and anyone else interested in popping by for the hell of it... I imagine if you rock this, you can literally conquer anything. This was the project they had been building up to. This was my, "hell no", moment.
This project forced me to reckon with what I wanted. Ultimately, this was not the track for me. This wasn't my mountain to climb. I explored other degree options. Whether it took weeks or months, I landed on, Industrial and Organizational Psychology. All my favorite parts of business without the numbers (which I hated anyhow) and the senior project from hell. This degree shifted my focus to people which turned out to be the best decision ever. As I dug deeper into something I could be passionate about, I started building my photography business. I was FINALLY headed in the right direction. I was studying something I loved and building my brand.
After I graduated, my boyfriend of six years proposed. We were married four short months later and moved to Philomath, Oregon. If you don't know much about photography, or really any service industry, success is heavily reliant on building trusting relationships with clients... without thinking much about it I had just moved away from what I built. I was starting at ground zero and I was exhausted. The pressures that come with navigating being newly married and trying to make ends meet took more time and energy than expected and once again I put my photography on hold... I lost my momentum and settled on the path of least resistance. I found a job nearby and began the soul deadening life path of coasting. Ok... that's a tad dramatic but you know what I mean.
Image by Margaret Jacobsen
A few years and two children later, I finally noticed the goals and dreams that had drifted away like a couple of lost buoys at sea were still there. I don't know if this realization was born through the achievement of some mystically milestone, or maybe having babies, or maybe the pressures of motherhood forced me to analyze what I am doing with my life and what kind of example I am being to my children. Regardless of what shifted, I knew I was not living my best life or being the best example for my kids. Things needed to change, but this time not just for me. I needed to make a change in my life to help all the boats in my harbor rise. So here I am, celebrating the incremental forward motion and pushing through until I make it.
If you can relate to this, I want to take a moment to ask you, what are the things in your life holding you back from doing what you love? What lies are you allowing to poison your mind? What fears do you give power over your life? What doubts keep the gifts you have hidden in the shadows? I know I'm not the only one who has allowed a conga line of doubt, lies, and fears to dance through my mind. I want to encourage you to take back your power and chase your dreams. This is hard, painful work, but this is the work that breaks down the barriers holding you back so that you can build a fortress.
Someday will be here faster than you think. This is your life. Go all in.