I know most of you only browse through our website for the lovely photos, but I thought I would change it up for a post and write something personal to all the entrepreneurs, small business owners and creative hearts out there. I’ve said time and time again that my heart is to see young talent thrive, not be squashed or forced to compete. So here is a piece of my heart for you…
Breaking into adult life and a career can be so .. scary! For me it was stressful, overwhelming, exciting, and amazing. I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote “Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.”; the quote that everyone strives to model their careers after, and yet the quote that puts the pressure on to find something you not only love, but something that you’re good at and that you can succeed at it. You may find yourself asking for advice and constructive criticism from people who have succeeded in your line of work/talent. I did! And it is an awesome way to grow. But at the same time, I felt like I had to measure up. Like I had to be just like these people, but better. I had to strive to be like them if I wanted to succeed. The reason I am writing this is because it took me a long time to shake those feelings of having to measure up, and if anyone else out there is feeling that way, this is for you.
Before I chose photography as my career, I had a billion things that I thought I loved and would be good at. Luckily, I was able to do internships and courses for most all of those things and dabble in them. I am a big advocate for internships, mentorships and workshops. After learning from local photographers, it was time to throw myself out there and get the hands on experience. Friends and family slowly started asking me to take their photos and I realized photography is what I was most passionate about and what I truly loved the most. When I am photographing, I lose track of time. For those hours or minutes, I am connecting with souls, lost in a sea of creativeness that makes me feel happy and fulfilled inside. I knew I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be but I was determined to grow and learn and I was so excited for the evolving opportunity this career would offer.
1. Those of you out there pursuing your dreams or dabbling in something you find fun, I just want you to know that makes me so happy. Everyone starts somewhere! The world will try to tell you that you’re too young, you’re not doing it the right way, you don’t have enough ‘likes’ or ‘followers’, you’re too ammeter, you should do this or you shouldn’t do that, you’re not hipster enough, you’re too quiet, too loud, the list goes on. Maybe you even put those assumptions on yourself. My biggest piece of advice to the creative heart is this: Don’t get wrapped up in following someone else’s success to find your own success. You can’t make their’s, your’s. When you are just starting out it’s so easy to really admire someone who has succeeded at something cool. People will tell you to be authentic and not to copy, to break the mold. In my industry, it’s very common for copying to take place. But I think there is a deeper issue everyone is missing. WHY are people copying? I truly believe it is because they are trying to find success and they are admiring a successful person. Admiration. We admire people who are successful in our line of work. When we admire them, we strive to find success by mirroring what they did to reach success. “If they are an actor, and they did __ and __ and just scored a big time movie role, then I should do those things too so I can score a big time movie role!” No. In the midst of mirroring them, you lose yourself. You forget to find YOU, your niche, what sets you apart, what you were created to create.
I lived in the shadow of someone for years, trying to find success by following their steps to success because I admired them. I thought they were fun, cool, and successful. I thought if I dressed like them, talked like them, posted things like them then I would be just as successful as they were. All the while trying to be genuine and not copy. I set myself up for failure. I think you know what I’m talking about. Whoever that person or company might be to you; You read their blogs, follow their work, take their in-home classes, maybe you’re able to hang out time to time and ask them questions and learn from them. All of those things can be great in moderation. But for me, it led to this realization: their success is going to look different from mine, and my steps to success are going to look different then what theirs did. That does not mean my success won’t be great, or greater. It’s just going to look different, and I’m going to have to pave my own way to get there. That was a hard pill to swallow. I think I was scared to really find myself, because there was a fear of not having a talent of my own to rely on, there was a fear that I would have nothing worthy to find. But then something awesome happened, I failed. I took a chance, tried my own ideas and realized it was a really crappy idea. But right after that crappy idea a really neat one came about. And slowly one after another they started shooting out of me like rapid fire and I felt like I was flying. I was getting creative. I was finding myself. I found out that failing was good because it showed me what direction I needed to redirect myself towards. It sculpted me. God didn’t create me to be empty with nothing worthy to do or give to this world. He created me with passion and purpose. When I chose to mirror someone else’s success because I didn’t think I could find my own, I wasn’t trusting God and I wasn’t giving Him credit for His work and creation in me. Maybe I would’ve found out photography wasn’t what He created me to do, and I would’ve moved on to something even more fulfilling. When I stopped living in fear, I was released to find my true purpose.
2. People can make themselves look successful very, very easily. Do not be fooled. If this person or company is making you feel like you have to measure up, I would ask yourself why you are admiring them so much. You may be focusing on them too much, and yourself (your own purpose and confidence) too little. That was the case for me, and I didn’t even realize it for a long time. What is the general consensus of this person or company? How do they make you feel? What is their countenance? Are they making you feel pushed into following them? Like you won’t be cool if your not like them? Why do you feel like you have to be just like them to measure up? Talk to people who worked for them, who were close with them/are close with them. Are they liked? And I mean REALLY liked. Not just social media liked. A 8 year old girl can make herself look like a 30 year old, popular, successful billionaire through social media. So please, do not be slayed by social media reputations. The minute I freed myself up to realize they don’t set the tone for cool, that I could pave my own way to think of my own ideas, to wear what I WANTED to wear, to make another type of cool, to say jokes that I wanted to say, conversation that I found natural, ideas that I came up with, to post things that I liked and thought looked pretty, and to not live for social media acceptance but to live in real moments with real relationships.. my world and career changed. It sky rocketed. Not in some I’m-a-millionaire-conceited way. But in a, I-feel-successful-way. The people I followed did not tell me “do what I do, or you are a loser”. But in a backhanded, undertone way.. they did. By the way they made me feel inside, their tones, their countenance, their looks, their posts and advice. The minute you start admiring and modeling after those types of people too much, you are cutting off any life line to happiness and success. I began to copy without even realizing it. But I was not created to recreate. I was created to CREATE. I began to lose the very thing that would make me successful: creativeness.I still struggle with feeling like if I don’t do things exactly how they would do them, then it isn’t good enough. It’s such a mind battle! I am daily reminding myself that my work matters, that the way I do things is good, it’s different, but it is enough. My life and talent and passion has a different purpose then those other people, so mine is going to look and feel different. Not just in the poses I do, or the way my blog looks, but in the way I get there, the way I carry myself, and the way I do things. And that is okay. That is more than okay, that is amazing.
3. Why is it that we are only satisfied and think we did a good job or think we’ve captured a solid shot when it looks just like how we saw it look for someone else? “YES! Nailed it. I got it. It looks just as good as their’s..” – Maybe it isn’t photography. It could be acting, singing, design, drawing, anything. If you have a creative heart, then you’ve probably experienced this in some form or another. It’s such a compliment when we get compared to someone of great success. It’s not bad to be flattered when you’re living up to a success of someone before you who you admire. We need that. It shows us we are on the right track. But what if you were acknowledged for nailing something new? Something never done before. Something people weren’t expecting. It would be even more flattering if we created a new strand of success that provoked people to become who they are meant to be and to live creatively. That’s what I want. I want to set myself apart. I want to be recognized for success without having to be put in a box; without having to embody the standard of what was good before I came along. I want to create something new. Find your niche, find what makes people want to hire YOU. Don’t be afraid to try something and fail. Don’t be afraid to step out from the shadow of someone else. If you have a fear of failing, wouldn’t you rather try and fail and move on to what you are actually mean’t to do, and know that you’re meant to be where you are at; rather then being stuck in a job that you’re only good at doing because you’re good at re-creating and mirroring someone else? Yes you admire them, and yes you want success. But don’t you want your own success? Don’t YOU want to be admired?
I want to leave you with this: Don’t be afraid to admire someone. We should always admire and respect successful examples. Art and creative forces were made to be admired. To this day I still admire the giftings of the people I used to follow too closely. The only difference is, I no longer compromise and sacrifice my own giftings. Instead of striving to find the same success they did, I began to strive to find my own. I let go of their “rules” for success, and began a process of trail and error. And in doing that, I finally felt myself living and growing. We tend to think that if we do what they do, then we’ll find success too. But when you’re busy trying to be like someone else, you forget to use creativity. You lock yourself up. You focus on trying to measure up to what their work looks like and begin to aim to embody their creativity, and while you’re focusing on that you don’t even realize that you’ve lost your own. Creativity is about being free from any standards or boxes so that you can create something fun and new. Having fun is what creativity thrives off of. Read their blogs, admire their work! But just remember to set a limit on how much you follow them, and how many deposits you let them put in your advice/influence bank. After so long of crippling yourself by comparing your work to someone else’s standards or success you will lose the fun. You’ll lose the real, genuine creativity. Take chances, have fun, go on leaps of faith and test out quirky ideas and fail at some. Failing is rewarding! There will always be some ideas that you succeed at. And in the midst of THAT process, you will realize you’ve found yourself. You didn’t focus on their success, you just created your own. If you’re confident in yourself, others will believe in that confidence and maybe, just maybe.. you will shine for something other then someone else’s idea or a photo that’s already been pinned 50 billion times. You weren’t created to re-create; You were created to create!
If you read to the very end of this. High five! It got pretty lengthy, so thanks for sticking with me,