This past weekend was jammed full of activities but during the in-between, I watched and re-watched Jasmine Star's live 2 day photography workshop. So much of what she personally spoke about resonated in my soul. She gave great and specific advice of how she made it to the top. She spoke of her failures candidly and although I took away and absorbed some amazing detailed tips for how to approach a business, clients, marketing, post-processing, costing and workflow, I was left alone with another thought.
Jasmine was discussing how, like most photographers starting out, began to realize that she didn't know which way was up. She was working part time and doing photography part time. She spent every waking minute learning, shooting and editing photos. After leaving law school because she was not happy and pursuing photography because it engulfed her entire soul, she started to discard other things in life that did not make her happy. It was a hard journey and like all of us, we do what we have to do with the tools that we have. She mentioned how she took the same photo of a pair of running shoes in front of the fire over and over again until she learned every different shot she could possibly take.
She figured that at 20 something years old and spending about 5 years unhappy, she concluded it was pretty depressing to have spent 1/4 of her life not happy. I mention the word happy several times in this post because it's such a simple term and yet so many of us spend a good chunk of our time and years being anything but.
You have to cut out the things that bring you down. The hard part sometimes, is figuring out what that is. I've learned through my body language what makes me unhappy. If I walk away feeling drained from something or someone, it doesn't make me happy. It's different if you're tired or just having a bad day but time after time, if your job, friends, family or something else is making you feel like a 10 thousand pound brick is on your shoulders, it's time to make a rapid move in the opposite direction. I'm not saying it's always easy and you may say impossible. Money, children and jobs may dictate what luxury we may be able to afford. But you find a way to manage.
I worked in a job that I liked but didn't love for almost 9 years. The people in my office were sort of my family and my best friend and I spent every day together there. I came home every night okay. I wasn't elated but I wasn't a wreck either. It was time to move on and that was a natural progression. Some things progress naturally. Others you need to halt screechingly. I absorb other people's negativity like a sponge. I try to do my own thing, be kind and stick to myself. Sitting in an office with unhappy women who complain daily about their miserable marriages and children and weight drains me. Being around people who constantly talk shit about others instead of ideas or life drains me. Giving to people, whether its relatives or friends, time and time again, only to realize when you need something, they have only used you, drains me.
My mom was in a relationship with someone for 20 years. Clearly, the two of them were not happy. I had moved to Toronto and started my journey as a young adult and my mom called me on New Years Eve and I'll never forget the sadness in her voice. I told her that she had to do something about it and she responded that it wasn't that easy to pack up 20 years together. Oddly enough, when she finally made the decision to leave, we had her packed and ready to move within hours. Sure, she spent the next couple of years struggling and sad but guess what? As Dr. Phil would say, the only thing worse than staying somewhere for 20 years unhappily, is staying 20 years plus one more day. For the record, my mom has been remarried for the past five years and is living her dream life. Sometimes the grass is indeed greener on the other side.
Things used to get under my skin. Little people with little minds used to bother me through the night and would interrupt my sleep and lovely dreams. Michael used to shake his head and chide me: "Wendy, you're letting these people/things/situations get to you when they are really nothing or nobody in the grand scheme of things." I would go on Facebook and be irritated with what you KNOW is an intentional jab but the cowards would never have the balls to tell you so.
Things are just so different now. Life is not perfect, far from it. I've walked away from miserable and crappy people. It's amazing how bad you can feel about yourself when in the wrong company. I just sit back, do my own thing with great people in our lives and watch the events and karma unfold as it should. It's not my job to wish bad karma on someone nasty. As sure as the sun shines in the sky, what goes around always comes around. You know this. If, in the pit of your stomach you know something isn't right, leave. This applies to all circumstance in life. It's funny how human beings are the only species who don't trust their instincts. The animal kingdom fight or flight with their natural instinctive behaviour and yet as humans, we rationalize, muse, ponder, flip flop, make excuses and ignore our gut feelings.
My girlfriend and I used to roll our eyes at each other about 10 times daily at my old job. We couldn't stand being in such a rotten environment and dreamt aloud of one day doing the things that we loved. She quit shortly after I did and is now a successful real estate agent. We met a while back to do a fun photo shoot and she mentioned she had to go back to that office to pick up her tax information. She said everything was still the same. The lobby was dark and depressing. The receptionist still had the scowl on her face. She got dirty looks when she went in there. We shuddered at the thought of still being in that hell hole. Photography is enjoyable but oh my God, so painful at times. The learning curve is so steep and technology changes every day. Just when you've received many compliments, someone equally critiques you. That's okay. Life is about diversity and a variety of opinions and I'd rather be in immersed in this struggle because of my choices, than be stuck in the alternative.
Although on days I muse to myself that I don't like where I am at that particular moment, I marvel at how far I've come. If you're not happy, you have to do something about it. Stop complaining about your lousy marriage or weight or annoying family or frenemy or crappy job or unfair circumstances and do something about it because if you don't, who will?
I dare you to move.
It's your move.