I picked up and left my full-time job this summer because, as much as I loved my clients and adored the designs and creative freedom I had, I was ready to focus full-time on my photography and was simply tired of getting taken advantage of. I extended my talents and reach far beyond the Interior Design world because I was excited about it, but eventually got nothing but a rude awakening for my hard work. Who’s to blame but me?
Waiting for the moment to launch off into my photography business was just a matter of timing, and that came after attending a Creative Live workshop and opening my eyes to the true value of “me”. But that wasn’t the first time I’ve had my talents and big heart taken advantage of in the creative industry. No no no. So I had to sit down with my head and my heart and figure out why this was a pattern. Why I kept extending myself so far out there only to get hurt. What was I doing or not doing that was causing this to happen? If I don’t make a plan for my talents in my own business, how can I expect it to prosper? If I'm going to invest so much heart and passion and energy into a business, I wanted it to be appreciated. I needed it to be mine.
I’m knowledgable. I may not retain the 50 states, but I sure can tell you exactly where that dress is from...because I saw it in Nordstrom once. They had 3 left. I can list the coolest new blogs by heart. I can spout out the name, price, and probably stockroom location of Ikea’s entire showroom. I'd like to think I know the hot-spots of a few great cities. I read wayyy more US weekly than I'd like to admit and I'm a running encyclopedia of Team Meatball references. I engulf myself in everything “of the moment”, do a giggity-dance when a bride decides to create an alter solely out of Confetti Systems, and am always, always, more than willing to help if I can. What else would all this be living in my brain for, anyway?
You can imagine my heartbreak at 19 as I got fired for being my Interior Designer boss’s “competition, and she didn’t want to train her competition”. I was stunned (I don’t believe in competition now anyway! People are only your competition if you see them as that!). Instinctively I didn’t believe her reasoning because really, what kind of competition could I possibly be? It must be some other reasoning she won’t tell me. I’m not old enough. I didn’t work hard enough. My design boards always had hot glue showing. Instead of taking my firing for what it was worth, I immediately de-valued myself. When, truth be told, (it’s taken me years to really figure this out) she saw talent in me that made her insecure. Talent that, frankly, I had to rub my eyes real hard when I looked in the mirror to see. She saw something in me long before I did. It’s taken me seven years to see that “firing” for it’s true meaning. Now I need to translate it into my business.
In the past I’ve attempted to downplay my talkative personality and discredit my talents in order to let those around me shine. For the life of me I can’t figure out where this trait comes from, or why I feel the need to pass the attention to someone else, almost as though I’m afraid to boast, but I have noticed that in certain scenarios when I’m with professionals (or not!), if I find myself talking and laughing and engaging someone in conversation where another person may be feeling “the shaft”, I take it down a notch so they are free to take the lead. I do this even when I have something realllly funny to say (com’mon, you know I’m funny!) or am having an almost impossible time keeping my personality bottled up. I’ll do it, for the sake of letting someone else have a boost.
This tactic of mine has done nothing but made me less confident as I pass the spotlight off to someone else, embarassed to be talented or successful or simply ambitious. Why am I so ashamed to be “acknowledged” or, heaven forbid, “rewarded” in front of my peers? Always afraid I am going to steal someone else’s show. Afraid to talk too much while second shooting, gab too much to someone else’s bride about her shoes I’ve been coveting, or throw my ideas into a meeting (because I got some dirty looks from that former firing boss when her client loved them).
Now, for my business, (and hopefully life), I’m vowing to do things differently. I’m not going to apologize for what may seem like a blog post bragging about myself (I’m not, I swear, just trying to mentally sort out WHY I do this!) but I am done apologizing for my strengths. Done trying to sweep them under the rug, and absolutely positively done not acknowledging my talents and getting taken advantage of. It’s time I recognize my self-worth. Put my creative energy into my business. I’m going to be me, do me, and am not going to be ashamed of my awesomeness. I’m going for it. I am incredibly valuable, and it’s high time that I see that.
Here are a few little snippets of what makes up "me". Colorful, glittery, loveagoodreflection ME. Around honolulu in film.
Oh. and I'd like to pretend that the last photo is all artistic and blurry but really, I just didn't focus. Won't deny that one.