This fall, I've had a ton of time to dive really deep into what makes me tick. It's given me so much clarity on where I am, and where I want to be in this season of life. While most of my posts here are a lot more direct and informational, this one is personal in nature.
Maybe some of this will resonate with you, and you can see what's holding you back in your own life. These are four truths I've learned about myself recently when thinking about my business. Even though the inquiry started with a high-level look at my business, it ended with resolution (or working towards a resolution) at a very personal level.
5 Truths I've Learned About Myself Through my Business
1. Moments really matter.
Life is not just one big checklist. For the past year or so, I've found myself ticking off events during the day as if my day is one big to-do list. Even on the weekends. Breakfast? Done. Reading time? Done. Family time? Done. Hiking? Done. Dinner? Done. During the weekday, my checklists weren't even fake as I actually had tasks written down to cross off as the day went on.
Why would anyone want to live like this- missing all of life's sweet moments to get that big, fake check mark next to each personal- or business- activity? I have no idea why this idea of checking things off my list permeates my mind and it's something I will be struggling with for a long time. But I'm trying, and I notice it now, so that's a huge start.
2. I am really insecure about my femininity.
I first discovered the creative world on Instagram. Instagram is a dangerous platform- there are so many beautiful accounts, usually run by wedding photographers and bloggers. The images are magazine-worthy but allegedly come from people who are "just like us" with a camera... yeah, right.
At the time I started using Instagram, I was even more insecure about how feminine I was than I am now. I grew up with two brothers. In high school, I played goalie in lacrosse and practiced with the men's team. All my friends until recently were dudes. I was one of the only girls who majored in philosophy at Texas A&M. I struggle not just with feeling feminine and pretty, but with being feminine. Most of the people I follow online exude femininity, and it was making me even more insecure.
For the life of me, I could not figure out how to take these ethereal looking blown-out images with a focused subject and blurry background. I couldn't figure out how all these ladies always had the perfect #ootd (and what that acronym stands for) with adorable children, perfectly styled homes and a witty blog post with an amazing graphic pumped out every day.
In my mind, these women woke up with bouncy hair and walked into their all-white, clean kitchens to have a steaming cup of coffee in their #bosslady mugs in silence before their cute little kids burst into the room to sit at their styled place setting, complete with a fresh sprig of sage next to their fork. Oh yeah, and they had time to photograph all of this AND post it to instagram, all before 9am. Whew. Okay, so this is all false, no one is actually living like this and running a business. And I also realized something else- if they couldn't do it, I couldn't do it. And something even more important- if I don't feel feminine, there are other women out there who don't feel feminine either.
This is all cute and well, but what the heck does this insecurity have to do with my business?
It is more clear than ever to me that I have been holding myself back from reaching the kind of women I want to work with because I was intimidated by them, even though they're the kind of women I adore and would love to work with. More importantly, they're also the kind of women who need my help when it comes to revising their contracts, sending cease & desist letters to potential infringers and helping them navigate the waters of business formation.
I've gotten over my insecurity in part because I do feel so strongly called to serve these female entrepreneurs. I also have taken charge of the situation and forced myself to do things that make me uncomfortable. I talk to people. I reach out. I gather up ten seconds of courage (thank you Bonnie.) And I do things I never thought I could do, like style a pretty set up and take a great photo of it. Check it out!
3. I have a calling and it will not be silently answered.
Some days, I get up and go to work, (decaf) coffee in hand, only to open up my instagram, email or some other notification center and see someone attempting to fulfill a similar vein of work to the one I've chosen. And my first thought is, "omg I should give up, there's already someone out there doing what I want to do!" And then I think of my creative clients and how many other people are "doing the exact same thing" as them. Lord only knows how many photographers exist in this world. Every day I'm introduced to new web designers, photographers, styles of work and creative ideas.
My clients and readers give me the courage to keep on fulfilling what I feel called to do in a loud, proud way. If you just gave up because there was already someone out there doing the same thing, can you imagine what a boring creative community we'd have? Can you imagine the talent that would be wasted and the misery that would be borne on the world from our failure to fulfill our purpose? Ugh. Let's talk about something else. I'm getting the heeby-jeebies.
4. It's okay to unfollow, unsubscribe and delete.
A lot of pro photographers in the biz long enough all say the same thing- they stopped following other photographers. For awhile, I didn't get it. I thought they would want to know all about what other people were doing- after all, this was their competition, right?!
When I opened up shop, I naturally followed those who already had a presence in this area of law. I thought that by following them and seeing what they were doing right, I could emulate them and change things around to be my own. I'm quickly learning that I do NOT want to emulate them and do what they're doing in a different way. Not because they're wrong or bad, but because I have my own vision and I found that by following other people, my vision was clouded. If they weren't doing something in my plan, I caught myself making excuses to put projects on hold because there must be something wrong with my plan if someone else isn't already doing it. Then I realized how stupid this is. Why would I hold myself back just because my ideas and my vision is different?
You know there was one photographer (probably a wedding photog) at one point in time who was like, "Hey, I'm going to shoot with the sun BEHIND you, instead of in front of you!" and a movement was born to create those dreamy, back-lit images that are so popular today. Voilà! Had that one photographer not broken the mold, we'd probably still be stuck with the crooked, high-contrast gross images of the late '90s. C'mon, you know they were bad...
Do it and do it your way. Unsubscribe from the people's social accounts and emails that make you feel like you are less than them in some way. If it feels like they are light-years ahead of you, don't worry about it. You will catch up and surpass them when it is your time. You won't be missing out, and you will get more done with all the extra time you have to work on what you are supposed to be working on when you're not worried about what others are supposed to be working on.
5. Friends are everywhere when you open up.
When I first started blogging, I assumed I could do everything on my own. I swam really hard upstream and didn't get very far. I was afraid to bother other people. I was afraid to reach out to anyone. I was scared to communicate with anyone in a 1:1 way. Until, that is, I opened up and let others into my life. You will never get anywhere in business if you don't open up to the possibility of new friendships. Humans, even introverted ones like myself, are wired for relationships. They support us and nourish our soul. And if you are ever feeling lonely, scared, alone, or hopeless (and we all do sometimes) friends are the ones who will get you (and your biz!) back on track.
If you are like me and have trouble opening up, look for opportunities to meet other people you'd enjoy spending time with. I accidentally did this when I started signing up for creative workshops and retreats, like Jessica Clinch's calligraphy workshop or the Illume Retreat.