I'm not a person who opens up very easily so I am a bit surprised that I am sitting here writing this blog entry which forces me to own up to my vulnerabilities in a very public way. In fact, I've actually been sitting on this article for a few weeks debating whether or not to publish it. So why do it? Perhaps because my computer screen gives me a false sense of security that lulls me into feeling that it’s just me. My screen won’t smack me in the head and tell me to get over myself. Well if it does, I know I've got bigger issues. Or maybe it’s that I’m really and truly ready to face some interesting facts about myself and figure, I can’t be alone in this. Yeah, this is about to get real, people!
Building a photography business is fraught with challenges. I never fooled myself into thinking launching my business would be easy. However, I wasn't prepared for what it would reveal about me on deeper levels. It appears that there is an abyss of neuroses in my psyche that are being brought to the fore in my attempts to launch a business. Who knew photography could get so real?!
[blockQuote position="right"]Let fear be thy motivator! (Blegh)[/blockQuote]
The interesting thing is that is seem that in our society, fear of failure is an accepted – even perhaps expected – fear. After all, we are supposed to use our fear of failure as a motivator, as something to propel us forward on our ambitious journeys. Yet failure has never really been a fear for me. Now I don’t go out of my way to set myself up to fall flat on my face. I do have a somewhat developed sense of self-love! However, I don’t seem to have the fatalistic relationship towards failure that our society touts. I don’t court failure but I don’t avoid it either. Failure shows me my mistakes. Failure forces me to grow – when I choose to acknowledge them. So fear of failure is not a hindrance to me.
So a few months ago when I froze and felt like giving up everything when I things got a bit rough, I was forced to evaluate what was going on. I wasn't afraid of failing at my business – although under no uncertain terms do I want to fail. Masochist I am not. I realized that what was chocking and paralyzing me was actually a fear of success. Whoa! What? Yep. I am terrified of succeeding. There. I've said it. Things get hard, I want to bolt. Sexy, huh?!
Fear of success isn't really discussed much, unlike its popular cousin “fear of failure”. Sure it’s thrown around a bit but it’s never really delved into and I understand why. It’s a very ugly truth. It’s not an appealing trait and it certainly isn't a facet of my personality I’m fond of. It makes me feel weak and pathetic. Worse, I've recognized this is a pattern for me. I like safe things. I have a safe job with a safe salary. I won’t make the jump to full-time photography because it’s not safe. I make safe decisions all the time – with the exception of jumping out of planes a couple of time. Hey, a girl’s entitled to a couple moments of crazy! Safe is comfortable. Safe is easy. Oh heck. Safe is boring!
Invariably the logical follow-up question is “why”? You can’t come to such a momentous “ah-ha” moment and simply say “thanks for coming, check’s in the mail”. Well at least I can’t. So what gives? Well, plainly put: success is tough. We have an incredibly romantic view of success – that once you've reached a particular level of success, every day is a cake walk. But reality is one different beast. Even without achieving success I know this to be true. To be successful you have to fight. All. The. Time.
[blockQuote position="left"]Fear of success isn't really discussed much, unlike its popular cousin “fear of failure”.[/blockQuote]You have to earn the right to be successful. You have to push yourself. Allow yourself to be great. It is astonishingly difficult for me to grant myself the permission to be great at something. It is in fact terrifying. To be successful means facing many unknowns and the unknown is anything but safe. In addition, I have to admit that starting a photography business makes me feel like the most incompetent person there is. I know nothing about business and marketing. When I start to think I have grasped the basic technical skills of photography something comes along to blow my mind and makes me rethink. I will admit to feeling a bit the village idiot at times with my business.
So why bother when it would be so easy to drop everything and walk away? Well at some point I simply have to break the pattern (too many years of watching Dr. Phil and I’m branded with “How’s that working for you?”). More importantly, photography makes me want to break that pattern. Photography is like a high at times. On some shoots I get unbelievably charged. There are times I can’t fall asleep I am so excited with ideas of shoots running through my head. There is no better feeling than having a client sigh in joy at seeing my finished product. Because I really do enjoy working with people and feel blessed to offer them part of myself with every product. I know that there will be times when I’ll want to do nothing more than throw a muffin at a difficult client but I firmly believe that the majority of my clients will be enjoyable to work with. Those are reasons worth fighting for. This is why I need to break the pattern. I think I owe it to myself to be really good at something, maybe even great. Even now, those words are very difficult for me to think and write. Good grief, someone please get me a therapist![blockQuote position="right"]When I picked up a camera and decided to dive into this crazy business, never, not once, did I ever expect photography to reveal so much about myself.[/blockQuote] What is it about this craft that exposes us and leaves us raw and yet imbues us with so much life and fire? I suppose the really interesting about this journey is that I simply don’t know what’s next. But that’s something I’m learning to be ok with and maybe even embracing.
Until next time,