Good morning, friends! I wanted to take a moment and chat about myself today. This is a big change of pace for me since everything I post is so client focused. But I’m currently going through some coaching in my business and it really has me thinking more about my personal “why”. Why I do what I do. Not only that, but why I am so passionate about it and why I continue to do it even when times have been tough.
I want to start with a little bit of my back story, though. As a kid I always felt a little bit like I didn’t belong. I distinctly remember one time that my parents took me and my siblings to a bookstore and they let us each buy one small thing. I purchased a bookmark that had this stick figure guy on it and he had on these huge green shoes and the bookmark said “Dare to be different”! I had to have been in middle school at this point. Possibly even younger. But my point is, that at a very early age, I knew that I didn’t quite want to do what everyone else was doing. I wanted to be different; even though I didn’t really know what that looked like yet.
Into high school I struggled to make real friends (granted I attended a small private school with less than 50 kids in my class), but even though I was incredibly outgoing and social I really only felt close to one or two people. (I’m thankful that one friend in particular has stuck with me since 10th grade!) My senior year my parents approached me with a choice. I had to choose between staying at the small private school I’d known since 7th grade, or switching to the very very large public school in our district. I had wrestled with this decision for years (they offered me this choice every year of high school actually and I had chosen my comfort zone each time). But this year I decided to be different. I knowingly switched schools going into my senior year of high school. It might sound crazy, and it probably was for a typical high schooler, but I thrived on the change.
In fact, for the first time ever I made friends that I really connected with on a different level. I found myself choosing the creative types, of course. One of my closest friends was not only 4 years younger than me but he was in a band with some other guys and all they did was jam out and hang out. We would go to the local coffee shop (called Insomnia- so trendy, right?) and watch open mic night and hang out in the parking lot until the wee hours of the morning. I felt free but I also felt connected to people who really understood me. The best part was that each and every one of us in the friend group were all so wildly different from one another yet no one felt left out or disrespected. This was my first look into what it was like to be with people who lived their lives their way. Even as high schoolers, these kids were different.
Into adulthood I somehow ended back on what I call “the acceptable ‘right track'”. I had a corporate job at a bank and I was looking to make more money. I moved back to my hometown area and I took a better paying job with my dad’s company. Why did I do that? Because it was the “right thing to do”. I worked there for 6 long years. I found myself in my nearly mid twenties and pretty much no real joy in my life. I still had my friends and family, but I felt like I was suppressing who I really was meant to be. I still didn’t really know who or what that was yet, but I knew it had something to do with photography. I had started shooting weddings and had always loved the camera but couldn’t yet make sense of how to get clients I wanted to work with. I wanted weddings and I wanted to make a living creatively but I just couldn’t make it work.
I started to realize that while I enjoyed weddings, I was applying such a stereotypical approach to it. I’d always been different. I’d always bonded with unique people. So why was I not applying that to my business? From then on I attempted to sell myself as a photographer for the people who wanted to do weddings their way. I instantly saw a shift. I not only enjoyed my work (and was able to quit the job working for my dad) but I had found my purpose.
Now this is the point that I want to come full circle with this message. At the beginning of this blog I mentioned that it was an odd change of pace to have a post be about me and not client focused. But the thing is that everything I do is for my clients. I feel like a million bucks when I get to deliver amazing images and experiences to my clients. The exact people that I became friends with when I needed it the most. When I was discovering who I was and what I wanted. Those different and unique people. I now get to work with them on a daily basis and smile all the time. The best part? I now get to call most of these people my friends now too. And that is why I do what I do.