I wrote an outline of this article a couple months ago and I have been debating on whether or not to post it because I feel vulnerable sharing some of my feelings here but I decided that if this could help someone else to be brave, then it is so worth it.
I belong to a mom’s group and the theme this year is “Be You, Bravely.” Ever since it was announced I have been pondering what this means to me. Am I brave? How can I be myself bravely this year? What are my dreams? How do I make them happen?
I am a photographer. I haven’t always been and it has taken me a long time to actually say the actual words to people secretly thinking that someone would laugh at me. Seriously.
It started out as a dream – I love documenting my girls’ childhood and I love photography, something I have loved since high school thanks to my amazing art teacher. What if I could combine my loves into a business? Hmmmmm. I thought it; I prayed about it; I dreamed about it and then talked to my husband and loved ones about it. Somehow saying it out loud made the possibility seem a little more real.
I spent every free second that I wasn’t taking care of my girls and our family reading, practicing, and learning. What I figured out is that the more I learned, the more I realized I needed to learn. Ha. Seriously, starting a business is not only about mastering your art, it includes marketing, customer service, taxes (gag), business planning, etc.
I have had many highs and many lows in this ongoing journey but I have learned a few very important things along the way:
You can simply dream and make excuses for why your dream won’t work. Or, you can do everything you can to make it happen. You will never regret trying – however, you will regret never knowing if you would have succeeded. Don’t have time during your normal hours to get things done? Get up at 5am. Stay up later. I love my sleep – I could easily sleep for 9 hours every night but if I get 9 hours of sleep every day my dreams will be just that, dreams, as I am sleeping my life away.
Surround yourself by positive, encouraging people. There will always be critics and naysayers but you control what you listen to. Listen to the happy, positive people in your life and dream, girl. Know someone else working on a dream? Connect with them; schedule a lunch and toss around ideas and inspiration.
On that note, constructive criticism is very helpful, so don’t tune the good criticism out. Put on your big girl panties and find out where you can improve. When I first started learning photography, I asked for feedback. Sometimes it hurt, but I never would have improved if I only listened to my mom saying how talented I was (thanks, Mom!). Moms are awesome like that but sometimes they are wearing goggles. 😉
Make a goal, and just do it. You may have failures. You may fall flat on your face. Learn from it and then get back on your feet and go, girl! If you have ever watched the show The Big Bang Theory, there is one episode where Leonard’s mom (who is not very sympathetic…ever….) says to Leonard when he is really upset about a problem in his life, “Buck up, sissy pants.” This cracks me up because she is so incredibly insensitive but you have to have this attitude when trying to achieve your dreams or they will never happen. So I tell you in my own version, keep going, and when you fall down, buck up and put on your big girl panties. I say that in the nicest way possible.
I have been there. I have fallen flat on my face. I SOOOOO wanted to get to a point where my work was accepted in the photography world as “good enough.” At the time all I wanted was to be accepted as a Clickin Moms Pro. CMPro is a women’s organization of both professional and hobbyist photographers who demonstrate creative, artistic and technical excellence in their fields and go through an application process where 150 of their photos are reviewed by a panel of highly skilled photographers. I applied before I had any clue about the skills necessary to be accepted. I was NOT accepted. I was heartbroken. Really. But you know what? I learned from their critique, wiped the tears off my face and put on my big girl panties. I applied again. And again. And kept applying an embarrassing number of times, to be quite honest. (I may have the record for the number of applications- ha!) And the rejection was painful. But this was my goal and I was NOT going to stop until I got it. And you know what? I learned from my failures – I practiced, I read, I worked, I practiced some more, took workshops, and from that, I was finally accepted. No, it wasn’t easy but I am so thankful for the rejection, because quite honestly, I would not have worked so hard to improve my craft.
Do not compare yourself to others. I know, I know, it is so hard. You see the other person receiving rewards, winning contests, incredibly busy, their business is booming, talking about all the success in their life – but please realize this; they have had failures, too. They struggle, and sometimes things are not as rosy on their end as they appear. And even if they are, everyone is different; everyone has their own voice, their own story. And who knows, this may be their 15th year pursuing their dream and maybe it is only your 1st or 2nd. Only compare yourself to you, love.
Have a plan. Write down your goals, figure out what actions you need to take, get out your calendar and make it happen. Writing and talking about your goals and dreams make them more real. Coming up with roadblocks? Figure out what you can do to get around them. Still having trouble? Find a mentor. There are so many people in this world who love to help and share their knowledge – find someone, and work with them to follow your dream.
Be encouraging to others. Let’s build one another up and be encouraging to other women. I am starting a photography project this year from the encouragement of the amazing Kate Densmore to help mommas be themselves, bravely, by getting in front of the camera. We all know how hard it is to get in front of the camera – we are so critical of ourselves. I can’t tell you how many images I have deleted of myself because I don’t like my nose or my chin or my smile….. Many times, mommas are the ones behind the camera and not in front of it because of this – so it is my hope that more women will either get in front of their own cameras or in front of my camera this year – and feel beautiful. I tell women, you are perfect right now and your children will forever be thankful for images of their mom.
I am still following that dream and trying to find my voice in this world. As 2015 has begun, I have to say I am super excited for what it may bring. Failures and successes – these are both part of life and in the end, whether I succeed at my dreams or fail miserably, I will at the very least have a story to tell. And one day I will tell my children about it as I encourage them to “Be you, Bravely” ……… because their momma did.