It was about 2:30 in the morning when I woke up.
I was scared. My mind was racing.
What had I done? What was I thinking?
This is never going to work.
A deep, nagging fear that people would think of me as a fraud.
I can’t do this.
It was January 20th. The day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was celebrated. A three-day weekend.
The last day on my job was the 16th. A send-off party and a cake – I love cake – and warm wishes from my co-workers.
I had spent 10 years at that job, and probably could have spent another 10 there. But it wasn’t where my heart was. The people that comprised our team were great. Talented. Working in situations that demanded equal parts talent and tact, navigating some very political situations.
Pay was good. I think people liked me. But, it wasn’t feeding my soul.
So, I gave my notice. I decided to trust my cape.
I had been working in off hours and spare time building my photography business. People told me I could do it. It would work.
But, stepping out on my own was still daunting.
A friend who happened to be a former co-worker was going through a similar situation and he phrased it “eating what I kill.” I thought that was a pretty apt description.
Which brought me to my day on the couch after a restless night of sleep. I decided that I was going to get up, get dressed as if I were going somewhere, even though my schedule was clear. Crystal took our youngest daughter to school, our eldest had left that weekend to return to college, and I was alone on the couch.
As I checked my e-mail, wondering what my next step was, the phone rang.
It was a client who I had completed a somewhat involved job for while my sister was in hospice. It was a stressful time, but they were understanding and flexible as I hustled through the job to spend time with my sibling in her last days.
I really hadn’t expected to hear from them again.
But, here they were, calling to see if I had time in that week to do a quick headshot. They were very apologetic for the short time frame, although I really didn’t let on that I had a pretty clear slate.
Luckily, I had found a spot for them on my calendar.
When I got off the phone, a thought occurred to me:
I can do this.
Fortunately, in the year following, the phone has continued to ring. At times, it hasn’t stopped ringing. Other times, I really, really wanted to hear it ring.
I’ve learned a lot in this year. Patience. Gratitude. Time management. Motivation.
I’ve been able to slow down on some of my sessions, knowing that I didn’t have to try to fit something in on a lunch hour.
And I’ve learned to be proud of what I do. I’ve learned not to compare my route to those that others are taking.
Well, I’ve mostly learned that last one. Still working on it.
I’m still working on a lot of things as I find my way through the woods of business ownership, but I do know one thing: I have survived a year on my own. And I couldn’t be happier.
For the commercial clients who have supported me when I didn’t expect it, my most heartfelt thanks. I have enjoyed the work we created together and am very proud of what we accomplished.
To the families who entrusted me to document this moment in your family’s lifetime, I hope I made you proud. There’s nothing I want more from my work than to preserve an heirloom moment for you, one that you and generations to come can make a part of your history.
To the clients I haven’t had the opportunity to work for yet: here I am. Give me a shot. I’ll do my best to make you proud.
I can do this.
P.S. – Thanks, Guy Clark. Your song helped me trust my cape.