Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I checked the feed of one of the facebook groups for wedding photographers that I’m a member of. Some of my closest professional friends and peers are in this group. I felt so strange as I scrolled through the feed, looking at a mix of referrals, business discussions, and more; knowing that while I understood what my peers were going through, I was leaving this part of my life behind, at least for a time.
I’ve known for a long time now that I’ve felt isolated from my professional friends because we no longer are pursuing the same goals. Part of this was intentional– I needed to process the choice I was making, and I needed space from being inundated with the industry I was transitioning out of. But part of the isolation was the natural result of what happens when you stop going to networking events, meetups, and holiday parties; when you stop participating in a community you once longed to belong to; when you stop pursuing a goal that is no longer yours to pursue.
In the past two years, I’ve come to terms with the loss of identity– with having to redefine myself and answer the question, Who am I if not a wedding photographer?
Am I still an entrepreneur if I take a 9-5?
Is it okay to feel like I’m ready to grow into the next phase of who I’m meant to be?
…even if I never expected to feel this way at this point in time?
Am I good enough?
Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Photography was my life. It saved my life; it gave me life–it still does, in a different way.
Who am I if I leave this dream I’ve manifested–this life I’ve created–behind?
So, yes, I’ve had to undergo the long and emotional process of untangling my worth, my calling, and my identity from my work–something it never should have been unified with in the first place; but that fact is so easy to overlook when what you create pays for your home and for the food on your table.
I lost and reframed my identity: I recognized that.
I recognized that I lost my sense of community, too.
What I didn’t recognize until tonight was that I needed to allow myself to grieve those losses. I needed to allow myself the grace to acknowledge that this thing I once loved, no longer holds the same place in my life. And that is loss.
I’ve come to realize in the past few days that my calling leans more toward being an artist than being an entrepreneur. Let’s be real, in today’s creative economy you need to be both, or have the resources to hire someone to be one or the other. I do get excited about some aspects of running a business (I do run multiple businesses, and I watch The Profit for goodness’ sake), but if I had to be known for something, being excited about ROI or spreadsheets or running a team wouldn’t be it. When I’ve reached my elder years, I wouldn’t look back on my life and consider those to be my greatest achievements. I know I wasn’t put on this earth to run a Fortune 500 company–it’s just not my purpose.
I want to be known for the words I write, the message I spread, the stories I tell. I want my life to be a display of the love in my heart.
I look around me at this life I’ve created–a life that’s the result of six years of dreaming, praying, and hustling. A life that is the fruit of a six year vocational relationship filled with ups, downs, and many blessings, fueled by passion and the grace of God. And now, I’m moving into the unknown. I’m being pulled by a new vision; or, rather, the vision that was there all along, waiting for me to remember.
When the inspiration came to me to write this, I imagined that I was talking to a friend. If you were sitting across from me tonight, you would have seen the tears stream down my cheeks as I came to these conclusions but all I have to share with you are these words on the page. So, here I am, showing up for you. Thank you for being here.
written november 12th, 2018