Third year of a decade.

January 11, 2015 § 1 Comment

TimeHop reminded me today that, on this day two years ago, I got fired.

My only firing ever and I am still not upset about it.  Which makes today the beginning of year 3.  My third year in business full time doing photography as the only gig.  Crazy pants, right?!
Oh no, it’s definitely crazy pants.  So, instead of a recap of my favorite images of 2014, I decided to do something a wee bit different (I know, you’re shocked).

Every entrepreneur I know has told me this is the year that things start to stabilize and I can totally see what they mean.  My first year was pretty scary and my feet finally started to find themselves towards the end of it.  This past year, however, I affectionately call “The School of Hard Knocks”.  Just in case you are somehow under the delusion that I’m a magical person, my 2014 recap is the lessons I’ve learned.  Ta daaaaaa.

Someone asked me recently, if I knew these lessons beforehand, would they have made a difference?
And I had to really think.
I honestly don’t know that I would have wanted to know them.  Experience is the best teacher and, without the experiences, I don’t know that I would have the resolve and drive and backbone I grew out of this past long, hard, difficult year.

So, if you haven’t learned these yet as a small business owner, take away what you will.  But, hear me well lovely, know that I will be *more than happy* to take you to coffee or stand next to you on a dock and hold your hand while you cry, just to remind you that you can do it.
It might not be as pretty or tied-up-with-string as you wanted it to be, but you can most certainly do it.
I promise you.

Stand up for yourself.
A good friend spoke the phrase through the phone that hit me like a sack of bricks.  “Amaris, you aren’t a push over in real life, why are you a push over in your business?  So you’ll get some less than stellar reviews why you figure it out.  Stand up for yourself!”
Oof.
Why was I not sleeping and letting people tromp on me in the name of customer satisfaction?  There’s being driven.  And then, there’s driving yourself into the ground.

Treat people as well as you possibly can.  Forgive yourself when this isn’t enough.
There’s been so much groveling this year.  If you can’t take criticism, don’t sign up for this.  Seriously, do something mindless that involves no other humans.  No, I don’t know what that is, either.  Haha.  But, honestly, your skin will triple in thickness after a year of being the person holding the bag.  It’s part of the territory and this one, this is the one that I wish more people had told me about.  I knew I wasn’t someone I would label a pushover, but dang.
Dang.
People will take their perception of your life and judge you by it and hold it against you like *that*.
The flip side, though, is that some will take their perception of your life and love you lavishly for it.  Which leads me to the next….

Take the high’s and hold on to them with everything you have.
Because the low’s will get ya.  God, the low’s are so so so low.  You want to go crawl into a cave low.  Push you to drink at 9am on a Tuesday low.  You will most certainly learn, dear one, alllll of the ways in which you suck.  But, those highs?  Sweet Mercy, the high’s are incredible.  I don’t know how to properly put words to the high’s and the encouragement and the love you receive.  The low’s try to make you think that they are the loudest, even when the high’s are louder by ten to one.
And they are.  Pay attention to the sweetness.  Because they might not be louder, but they are far greater in number.

Take the Rule Book and study it intently.  Then throw that mother trucker to the bottom of the pile and ignore it.
I’ve heard this 187 times and I still didn’t listen.  There are rules, you should follow them, at least a bit.  Break the ones that are bullshit.
The end.

Stand up for yourself (part 2).
You thought I was done with that one?  Oh no.
I put this underneath the Rule Book lesson because they are a bit related.  Who decided that you have to be accessible all the time?  Who said that if someone text messages at 1130pm at night, they should get an immediate answer?  The word is *BOUNDARIES* and they are healthy.  Not responding to someone isn’t rude, you have to take care of yourself.  You cannot properly take care of others, if you’re a hot mess.  And if your people don’t understand, maybe they aren’t really your people.

Find your people and cling to them.  They will be your rock in the chaos.
I love weddings.  I love them.  My brain wakes me up before the alarm every single time and I go 98 miles an hour and I always put the camera down to dance for at least one song and I try really hard to dance with the bride at least once because I am so thrilled for her.
But, something no one talks about (seriously, I can’t find a blog post about it anywhere) is the emotional tax you are required to pay in order to have this job.  Being the age I am and longing so desperately for a husband and a family makes doing my exact job really hard, sometimes.  It’s tricky, to be happy for these amazing people you spend time with while trying to battle a piece of you that just can’t handle it.  So now, I have my people.  The week before a wedding, I send an email to a list of incredibly strong and sassy women.  They send me encouragement and love and hilarious cat videos all weekend long.  Because of my last lesson.

It is very easy to feel completely alone.  You are not.  Not for one minute.
When you have a path that is very unique – there’s no training class to attend with all the other new folks, no business computer waiting on you at your new office that someone else paid for – the voices like to scream at you that you are alone.  No one understands.  Fight it out all by yourself and asking for help is weak.
There may not be someone to help you run your business, but you have a community.  They believe in you and asking for help is far from weak.  It shows you’re a human.  The world needs more humans.

Ten years ago this month, I walked into a darkroom for the first time, with zero idea it would eventually become my future.  A camera has been in my hands for a decade now.  My first wedding was nearly six years ago and today begins the third year of full-time photography.

I also have zero idea how long I am on this path.
It’s been a wild ride ’til now, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.
Thank you for being here.  Please let me bear hug you the next time we’re in the same town, mmk?
You are my people. 🙂

So much stinkin’ Love,
Amaris

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