We sat across from one another, hands tightly wrapped around paper coffee cups, quickly getting to know each on the balcony of the popular Kailua cafe.
“What’s you biggest struggle today?”, I prodded. A personal question no doubt, but we had already connected as fellow photographers, sharing dreams, glories and worries as she was committed to make her passion of photography in Hawai’i come to life, an ambition I certainly could relate to. I wanted to know more.
“Not being good enough,” she declared from across the round table without an ounce of hesitation.
“Yeah, me too…” I admitted, feeling the weight of my words heavy on my lips, especially on this particularly challenging day.
To my surprise my candid answer was met with disbelief and confusion as I explained to her the highs and lows of being a business owner, most of which fluctuate on a daily basis, and how I wake up loving my work but a barage of emails, thoughts perfect snapchats and subconscious messages from social media can keep you doubting yourself, hitting especially at lunch time on a random Thursday. I could have consciously chosen to hide my insecurities and doubts about my own talents, but I just didn’t have it in me. In the spirit of consistently oversharing, over 12 ounce lattes I unloaded on this sweet, unexpecting girl.
“YOU? How do YOU feel like you’re not good enough? Your work is great and you’ve worked hard, I can tell!”. Deep down I knew she was right. I have worked hard, real hard, have seen tangible growth and am proud I'm doing it. Like, I'm doing it. We are living in Hawai'i, going to Whole Foods for crying out loud. Still, more often than none, I have the nagging sense that’s it’s still not enough. I haven’t gotten good enough. Enough for what, I have no idea. Because it's bullshit. It's a lie. A fake scale, Ashley.
“…but your worth does not come from your work — you know that, right? It’s not what you create, do or don’t do, your worth comes from God….” I boldy wrapped up my lamenting, speaking truth to myself more than anything -- completely unaware of this budding photographers general thoughts on God -- absolutely compelled to speak honesty into her life, and well, mainly my own emotional day.
I continued meaningful conversation with this new found friend, shared marketing ideas and uplifting one another, her invitation to coffee being a necessary treat in my day and as I left I remembered this: THIS is what I’m here for and what I love. Uplifting other women, candidly telling the truth, doing battles and life together. We may not feel like they live up or compare to what this industry’s or society’s standards are, having a hard time keeping up with a 1/3rd of our own to-do list, but that’s not the point. We are here, working hard. Not sugar coating it, not making it look like rainbows and butterflies — putting our hearts on the line. We are not the sum of how many hours we sit behind the computer, how many emails we answer in a day, or how many new ideas we dream up and immediately put to action -- after the laundry gets done. Today I may be back to feeling like a shitty photographer and crappy business person, staring down the barrel of all the would do could do should dos, eyeballing my maltese sleeping high atop a pile of dirty laundry, but that’s not who the Lord says I am. I get the pleasure of being an Entrepreneur but that that isn’t what MAKES me. We are meant for more than that — we simply get to make the world a little prettier in the process. Most importantly, we are in this together.