Monday, September 12, 2011

what am i doing with my life?

This is a question I contemplate often constantly. Rarely does it occur to me in those moments that I am doing something with my life right now. Why isn't what I'm doing good enough for me? I think it has a little something to do with having an ├╝ber talented and successful (designer/builder/artist/lawyer/jack-of-all-creative-trades) father, one who has started numerous businesses of his own from the time he was 22. He was my hero growing up (really, he still is) and his model of living made me feel like I could achieve anything I wanted. That is certainly the philosophy I continue to operate under, but finding my success hasn't happened as easily as I used to dream it would. Instead, I chose the most tumultuous period in my life to quit my high-paying, stable job and become a full-time artist. 

As the economy began to tank several years ago and unemployment rates were sky-rocketing, I felt an urgency to leave my job and start a new life when everyone else was clinging to the paycheck they had. There was a voice inside me that wailed and screamed every day, as I sat quietly in my cubicle in San Francisco, totally distraught over where my life was heading (or more accurately, where it was not heading). So, when I started dating my now-husband, who happened to live 3,000 miles away on the east coast, I took it as a sign, an opportunity to change direction. I could've easily had him move to California, I could still be sitting in that cubicle with financial security and a pile of dissatisfaction. But, I didn't. I chose bravery, I chose uncertainty, I chose to risk it all for the chance that I would find the life I was really meant to be living. That's something to be proud of (note to self). And in the time since I left, I have married my best friend and true love, started my own business, found truly wonderful friends, moved into my first house and become more myself than I ever thought I had the courage to become. So, why isn't that enough? 

It's amazing how much pressure I put on myself. It's amazing that I can ignore the fact that over the past 2 years that I've been working on establishing an art career, I have started a new relationship, moved cross-country, moved in with that new love (after only 4 months of dating!), gotten engaged and then married 10 months later, planned a wedding (mostly) by myself, started my own business, moved in with my mother-in-law for a summer while we scrambled to find a home, moved to a new state (again!)……not to mention gone through the most emotionally and psychologically transforming period of my life, all while dealing with an unrelenting anxiety disorder, occasional depression and more family drama than all 6 seasons of Keeping up with the Kardashians. That's a lot of transition, a lot to adjust to, a lot of enormous life changes (and I left some big ones out of my list!).

Given alllllll of that, isn't it enough that I started a company website, a blog, an Etsy shop, and a fan page, worked on a handful of photo projects at the state Capitol, shot a bunch of portraits, had my first art show and have another exhibit coming up, took photography, painting and blogging classes, started painting again after a 15-year hiatus, have never stopped coming up with photo projects with friends, have written nearly every day, started writing a book with my husband, spent 40 hours a week researching how to run an Etsy shop, write a successful blog, create a business website, and run an art business? And I am sure I'm leaving something out. Meanwhile, I rarely give myself a break and rarely stop moving…..I. must. be. productive. 

So what if my path has not been a straight, smooth one and my photography career has been unfolding in starts and stops since it began? This is my life and can't be compared to others. Just for today, I'm going to feel content with my own struggles and successes and let it be enough. And if you're still with me after this uncharacteristically long rant/open letter to myself, I thank you for reading it and hope you appreciate your own success too. We can't all rise to fame in an instant, but we can honor our own path and feel confident in our decisions. Each one moves us closer to our true path. It's a shame that we ever spend even a minute feeling like we aren't good enough, because we all are. We are all beautiful flames, lighting up this life.


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