As often as I write and think about pursuing your dreams, overcoming obstacles (physical and emotional ones), and living fearlessly & passionately, I do have spats of fear that make my brain spin around like a hurricane.
As undeniably lucky I am to have Nick, my daughters, my family, and the opportunity to pursue a career that I thought would only exist in my dreams, sometimes I can’t handle competition.
In fact, I’ve never been a competitive person. Ever. Competition makes me cringe. Always has.
Having said that, sometimes, as crazy as this might (not) sound, it makes me want to give up, run away and hide under a rock.
For whatever thing you may feel like giving up on, here’s a compass to help guide you back to the reality that you’re chasing.
If you work in a competitive field, it can be challenging to feel uncommon. Personally, sometimes I feel like a dandelion in a field of dandelions… Why would someone pick my brand of photography over another’s?
But a week or two ago, this topic came up while having coffee with a friend, and we came to a revolutionary conclusion (that you may have already heard from somewhere else):
“We’re all different candy bars. Some people like Snickers, some people like Reese’s Cups, some people like Hershey Bars.”
And that makes it all okay! You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be the right photographer for the right people, so it’s crucial to be yourself.
“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others,” H.J. Brown
Community is crucial to us at the core, so let’s not isolate ourselves anymore. Let’s be friends and lean on each other, and change the culture of competition!:)
You’d be surprised to find that a lot of the most consuming thoughts you might have are actually pretty ridiculous. At least mine are. Examples:
“Nobody likes me” is one of my more frequent ones. But really? NOBODY likes me? That’s ridiculous and so, so selfish. The guy that married me, my daughters, my whole family, my church family, my friends… NOBODY likes me? No, brain, people do like me. Does EVERYONE? No, probably not, but for this thought to be as frequent as it is, despite all the love that lives in my life, it needs to be addressed and dismissed. Write it down, and laugh at it, speak life over yourself, and then move on.
“There are too many photographers now” is another incessant one.
This stems from my life-long hate/battle with my hate/battle of competition. But it doesn’t have to be a competition, as I addressed in #1.
As I touched on in #1, YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made, with intent and purpose. Society goes back and forth between “You’re a snowflake”, and “We’re all the same”, which can be confusing, but you have the choice: pessimism or optimism? Your attitude can change everything. Acknowledging that you are unique does not make you selfish, it simply separates you from the battle of trying to fit into the mold that our culture (or whatever) wants you to fit into, and trying to stand out.
*Taps the mic* Did you hear that one? It’s not worth it to give up, for all the reasons I mentioned above, and because I’m sure that when I reach the end of my rope, I’d rather not sink into the endlessly deep, scary ocean of regret. I don’t want to stand in front of the God that made me, and gave me so much opportunity to be a conduit of love, inspiration, along with the equipment to achieve my dream (and then some) and tell Him that I was too scared, too anti-competition to do it.
I’d rather struggle, sacrifice, and hustle for what I want make a reality for myself and my family, than to retreat, withhold, and suppress my dreams for what I don’t want at all.
So having said all that, here are some things you can do in the heat of fear, when you want to throw in the towel:
If you have a babe (boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse), babies (or fur babies), or any person that you love; kiss them and hug them tight, and remember that you are accountable to them.
I’m accountable to my husband because of the sacrifices he makes for the girls and I. Not everyone gets an opportunity like this, so I don’t want to waste it. My girls will look to us as their examples, and what we do will shape their futures. I want to leave the kind of legacy that they can look to. I want to show them that this is possible, that they can reach for the stars. I want to show them what and where a dream, a vision, a passionate work ethic, sacrifices, and relentlessness will get them.
It’s easy to get depressed over what goals we haven’t reached yet, seeing other photographer’s “success” on their highlight reel of Facebook and Instagram, and so on, so maybe it would do you some good to unplug for a day, or at least a few hours.
Maybe do something physical, like work out or take a walk (really, has anyone ever regretted that?), read a book, clean your house, go get ice cream with your mom…, just get yourself away from your devices for a little. We could all use a break from the screen.
Here’s a great article on how to unplug, and why.
Remember why you’re doing this. For me, all I need to do is retrace my steps. I see how far I’ve come, I realize how much I’ve learned, I remember my successes and how it makes it worth while, I remember my mistakes and how I’ve recovered, I remember all the time and money we’ve invested into MPP, and I holdfast to my responsibility to work hard and the accountability that I have to the ones I love.
It’s okay to acknowledge when we’re a little frightened by an uncertain future–one paved by our own blood, sweat, and tears–our own hard work, dedication, and courage… After all, it IS intimidating and daunting to know that our actions are directly linked to the state of our business and life… But do not be afraid. Personally, I’d rather fail at something I love, than succeed at something I hate. I hope you subscribe to that, too.
Look ahead at your bright future–it’s filled to the brim with successes and failures–but this is what it’s all about.
Learn from your mistakes, let go of your fear, crank up “Eye of the Tiger”, and move forward.