When Quitting is Not an Option
Because Quitting IS Failure
I have learned many lessons on my road to becoming a full time professional photographer. If you want to achieve something - I mean if you really want it bad - then quitting is not an option. Not only that, but quitting doesn't even cross your mind. And even when you feel like you totally stink and you should just give up and go find a job that makes you more money for way less work, you still can't quit. It's your obsession, your drug, whether you like it or not.
When I was a little girl, my dad told me that if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. It's a well known saying, but I'll always remember hearing it from him first. I kept that in mind as I grew up, dreaming about what I wanted to be when I was older. When I graduated high school and enrolled in college, it was time to pick a major. I went through 3 different majors over the next couple of years, finally settling on Journalism. While I enjoyed the coursework for that far more than anything previous, I still never felt like that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom from the time my sister and I were born. I knew that's what I wanted for myself, ideally. At the time though, I had to make a plan for taking care of myself, seeing as how I was not married or planning a family. That life was not even visible on my horizon yet. I had to pay my way through college by working full time, so it took me a good long while to get anywhere with my education.
Sometimes It's a Long Road
I got married several years later and my husband and I decided that when we started a family, I would stay at home to raise our children. My dream come true. Given that decision, finishing a degree that I wouldn't use and taking on more student loan debt just didn't make sense. Sometimes quitting is the better decision. It may not always be easy, but for me it was more of a relief than anything.
After hiring professional photographers for our wedding, I became fascinated with what they did. Their process was fun, the idea of working for myself was attractive and they created some beautiful work with their expertise and fancy equipment. One of the last courses I took in college was a beginner digital photography course. I really wanted a professional camera and so I used that class as an excuse to buy one with my student loan money. I would not recommend starting out this way. However, photography and journalism go hand in hand so it felt justified.
When I finally got my own DSLR camera, I started learning by doing. Boy, would I hate to show you my early work, although I'm sure those images are still permanently enshrined on my Facebook page if you go back far enough (*mental note to wipe out all traces). I learned really fast that photography was far more about skill than having a nice camera.
The Definition of Passion
I don't think all people find that kind of passion, that one thing that drives them every day. Passion is defined as an intense, driving feeling of conviction and an emotion that is devoid of reason. I could easily reason out that because I have a history of not finishing things, I will likely fail and give up on my business. Passion is what keeps me going and tells that small voice to shut up. Quitting and persevering are both choices. Let me say it now, that if you dream of turning something you love into a business, it better be your passion. You will spend every waking moment thinking about it, researching, practicing, talking about it. Sometimes until people roll their eyes at you.
Some people will tell you it can't be done or that you're doing it wrong. Some will say you should just go get a normal job like everyone else. Sure, I could go work part time at Starbucks to make some extra cash. But when you think about it, Starbucks began as an idea, a dream. It became someone's obsession until it became a reality.
Okay, If That's What You Really Want
In case you aren't getting support from your friends or family, I'm giving you a green light. Go for it! Maybe you'll fail utterly. Maybe I will too. But quitting means we definitely failed.
If you believe it will happen, it will. Let me elaborate because there's really more to it than that. It's more than believing in destiny. You have to KNOW it. You have to want it with every fiber of your being - so much that you would do whatever it takes. I never expected to become a full time professional photographer. Not in the beginning. For a long time I was afraid of failing, believing that I couldn't really be successful. I never finish anything and getting in too deep was scary. Quitting is just something I always do. Successful people finish what they start. They don't quit college. But really, how many successful people are there who didn't finish or never went to college in the first place? Steve Jobs, Rachael Ray, just to name a couple.
In the Words of Nike (and Shia Labeouf)
Just do it! If there's something in your life that you do or love, the first thing you think of when you wake up and the last thing you think about before you sleep, maybe there's a career in that. Photography, for me, hasn't been just about having fun and making money. Lord, no. Oh how I wish it were that easy. I am not a numbers girl. I love anything creative or to do with the English language and grammar. Math? Pass. Never in my life did I think I would have to study taxes, accounting, marketing, sales, and many other things related to running a business. If you're like me 5 years ago, the thought of spending any kind of time learning about those things is enough to make your blood pressure spike.
But as my skills expanded and I made friends in the business, I really started to believe I could do it. Something in me shifted a couple of years ago. I went from having one foot in the door and one foot out, just "keeping it as a side thing," to wanting a full time business more than air. There's another saying that I find to be true. If you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who are where you want to be.
Failure is Your Friend
When I finally let go of my fear and decided that quitting wasn't an option, I knew that it would happen because, come hell or high water, I would MAKE it happen. I have had more success than I would have thought possible in the last two or three years. Still, I'm nowhere near where I want to be in life or business but I know I'm heading in the right direction. I finally realized that I didn't have to be afraid of failure. In fact, I welcome it! If you aren't failing, you aren't growing. If you quit, then you fail.
Thanks for reading! If you would like to book a consultation, give me a shout!