I remember the first picture I ever took. A clone shot where I put myself in the image twice. It took more than a day to complete. I cried a lot out of frustration. I don’t like not knowing how to do something. My husband helped a lot. The amount of times he explained the eraser tool in Photoshop was ridiculous.
I remember the first time I posted on social media. I uploaded five pictures. I didn’t know how it worked. I went to Flickr with no expectations except that, if I was very lucky, I would make some friends and develop a new hobby.
I remember the first time someone believed in my photography that wasn’t my mom or dad. I worked with her, Michelle my dear friend, and she came behind my desk one day, looked at the new picture I was editing, and told me that I should take a chance on galleries.
I remember the first time I wrote to a gallery. It was eight months after I started taking pictures. I wrote to every gallery email I could find. I messed it up royally. I burned bridges. I didn’t know any better. I told myself I was young, but that had no role in it. I was just learning.
I remember when I decided to quit my job to pursue photography. I went into my office crying, not because I didn’t want to leave, but because I was terrified at what my boss would say. And to be honest, it was as bad as I expected. I cried every day for two weeks until I finally left, and then I learned what it was like to breathe.
I remember when I had my first exhibition, just a few days after I quit my job. I sold nothing, but felt like I was on top of the world. My parents flew in to see it, my first friend from the internet Christine did the same, and I felt like a real artist.
I remember when I had to get a temporary housekeeping job because I couldn’t make enough money creating my art. I felt embarrassed, like I was less of an artist because of it.
I remember when I taught my first workshop. I was so scared that I thought I was going to throw up the whole morning. But beyond that, I was excited at the prospect of opening up the imagination. I remember talking excitedly and nervously to a man standing outside of my shooting location. At the end of our talk, he said “Your positivity is infectious, never lose that.” I will never forget him.
There are certain experiences that define who we are. We call them memories once they have passed, and those memories dictate how we see the world, and how we see ourselves. There are two things that dominate my mind when I think about all of the memories I have of “firsts” that I’ve experienced. Whether it was taking my first picture or hosting my first workshop, there was fear, and then there was bliss.
These two things are linked so wholly that I don’t know if I have ever had one without the other. Fear is a catalyst for change. It is what we feel when we are doing something new. It is what we feel when we are uncertain. It is what we feel when we doubt. But beyond that, it is our greatest demon. It is what we battle, time and time again, to find our happiest selves. It is what we constantly confront, push past, and conquer. And the conquering of fear is what connects all of my memories. It is what makes them so spectacular.
I heard from someone the other day who said that the aspire to get to a place where they don’t fear moving forward anymore, like me. I wanted to take that person by the shoulders, shake them, and then hug them. “That’s not me!” I wanted to shout. That’s not me at all. I feel fear. I feel doubt. I am scared to move forward.
But I remind myself, even if sometimes my reminders are delayed, that the purest forms of happiness stem from overcoming fear. I remind myself that failures are lessons. That success is only how you see your circumstance. That I am powerful enough to try anything, overcome my losses, and change my life if I want to.
I move forward right now, during this time in my life. I am hosting a “Promoting Passion” convention in October this year for all of us “misfit” creatives who feel fear, chase hope, and who want to do something a little bit differently. I am terrified that it will fail. I am scared that everything will go wrong. But I remind myself in this endeavor that if it does, I will learn. That if it doesn’t, I will find my bliss. If it doesn’t, I will find friends. If it doesn’t…