If you’ve never taken a chance on yourself, my opinion is that you’re missing out on discovering your potential. I’ve been looking back on all of my activity over the last few weeks and I can’t imagine that I would recognize myself if I were looking into the future five years ago. I know that the point of growth is to constantly be discovering new things about yourself, but I didn’t expect the discoveries I’ve made in the last three weeks. I’ve begun to expose myself in ways beyond sharing my perspectives in a blog. I’ve also discovered another level of bravery within myself.
I quit my job.
The general idea is to finish high school, go to college, get a degree (and perhaps another), get a good job, get married, buy a house, have some kids and live out your days. I started to do that. In fact, I did all of it up until the buy a house bit. I have played it safe for the majority of my adult life. I was the first in my family to go to college and the first of my family to make it as far as I have in the world and I’m shamelessly, unapologetically proud of myself for all that I’ve accomplished considering my humble roots.
When I landed a job with a respectable company and a great salary I was…well…not as excited as I should have been. In fact, I was disappointed in myself for not listening to my gut. I had a feeling early on that it more than likely wasn’t the place for me, but the play it safe adult in me took over and I thought about what I should do rather than what I could do. It only took about three weeks for me to realize what a mistake I had made so I began considering alternatives. I had multiple conversations with Ralph as we put a plan in place and then I quit my job.
I became an entrepreneur.
Not words I ever thought would come out of my mouth. I always preferred the security of a steady paycheck with employer benefits. I haven’t known anything else since I entered the work force at 16. I’ve always left one job to go to another. Even when I moved to L.A. four and a half years ago, my sole intention was to immediately get a job – not become self-employed. But here I am, suddenly a freelance photographer/event staff/dog-sitter extraordinaire and I’m pretty damn happy and optimistic about it.
The most surprising thing I’ve discovered from my trifecta of revenue streams is how lucrative dog-sitting can be! What’s funny is that years ago someone asked me what I would do if I could do anything and not worry about money. My answer was that I would be a dog-sitter. I’m not even kidding. I honestly think dogs are cooler than most people on any given day. I never imagined I would actually do it to sustain myself while building a photography business, but I am certainly not complaining. People are willing to pay me to hang out with their dogs while I nurture my creativity? Sign me up!
I have stepped outside of my comfort zone.
That part about dogs being cooler than most people? I’m pretty sure I feel that way, because I’m awkward as hell with people. I’ve learned over the years to fake it ‘til I make it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sweating the nervous sweat every time I find myself in a new situation with people. I am not a fan of having to ask people for things, because I don’t like to feel like I’m bothering anyone – mostly because I know how I feel when I’m being bothered – but every job I’ve had has required people skills so I’ve picked up a thing or two over the last 15 years.
Now I’m having to apply all of my learned skills to building a client base nearly from scratch, which means I’ve had to start talking to a lot of people and I’ve been putting myself out there in ways I never imagined I would do. Here’s the thing: I’ve discovered that my fear isn’t nearly as great as my optimism. The momentary discomfort I’ve felt each time I’ve gone outside of my comfort zone in the name of building new relationships doesn’t hold a candle to the feeling I get when someone is receptive to me and what I have to say. I’m learning to welcome the discomfort, because like so many other things in life; it’s temporary.
I have time to cook dinner.
More than once or twice a week – which is what I used to do if I could even manage that. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s a pretty big deal for me. Even though I don’t enjoy cooking as much as Ralph does, I do enjoy the look on his face when he comes home to dinner being prepared. Especially since he has been the one making most of our meals for the last two years. It’s actually nice for me to be able to feed him a little more often for a change.
I finally feel like I’m being authentic to myself.
I’m a photographer. And a dog-sitter. I’m a blogger. And a wife. Occasionally, I work events. I’m not an executive anything and I have a degree I more than likely won’t use. I’m pretty happy with my choices and the positive energy has only brought me good things thus far. I realize that I will constantly be learning, but I welcome the opportunities and challenges ahead. I know it will make me better in the long run and that’s what this is really all about: the long run, because when I look back on my life I want to know that I did things that made me happy. When I’m happy I spread it, because I think everyone should experience an authentic buzz from life.