August 9, 2016

A Lesson Learned in Self Confidence

full-time-small-business-owner-self-confidence_6028.jpgEver since leaving my full-time day job a few months and pursuing my photography business full-time, life has been a dream. Everything I hoped it would be and more! No more stressing about essentially living a double life between two jobs. Having the flexibility to actual make time for family and loved ones. Being able to focus all my energy towards one job instead of just trying to stay afloat between two. I can’t say enough good things about this new way of life. But there has been one small downside to this transition that seems to creep up every now and then. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only self-employed creative entrepreneur that deals with this.

For those of you that don’t know this, the day job that I did for 4 years was Software Engineering. I got my bachelors degree in Computer Science from JMU and went straight into that job after graduation. While working that job, I always got a surprised look from people when they found out what I did for a living. People don’t usually expect a young basic white girl to be a Computer Programmer! But another thing I got from people in that moment was instant respect. My job title instantly labeled me as smart, successful, hard-working, etc. And I took a lot of pride in that because I like to think that I am all those things. I worked really hard through college and in my career to get to that job. It was a very respectable job, especially for someone of my age, and I was able to solely support Branden and I while he was in medical school and had no income. So when I made the decision to leave that job and pursue my true passion full-time, I lost that title that immediately labeled me as smart and hardworking.

I dreamed for so long of the day when someone would ask my what I did for a living, I could just say “I’m a wedding photographer”. Not “I’m a Software Engineer and also do wedding photography”. I can say with complete confidence that this is what I do full-time. But people’s reaction to that job title is a little different than their reaction to my old job title. Their reaction is more like “Oh, that sounds like so much fun!” as opposed to “Wow, you must be really smart and hardworking!”. When people realize that this is what I do full time, I often get the question “so what do you do all day?”. Or I’ll get the comment from a family member “Now that you don’t have a real job anymore…”. Ouch. But honestly, I can’t blame them. Before I dove into the world of self-employment, I had not idea what went into running a business like this. I know now that it is SO much more than just shooting weddings on the weekends. So I can’t blame others for having the perception that this isn’t a full time kind of job. Those comments really stung at first, but they also taught my an important lesson in self-confidence and knowing your own worth.

I know that I have worked harder at this new career and craft than I ever did in my previous career field. I know that I have so much passion for this job and it is so much more than just a hobby or a way to make money. I know that even though this isn’t something I went to school for or have some sort of degree in, that I am good at what I do and have worked really hard to get here. I know that I often work 40+ hour weeks behind my computer, shooting weddings, etc. I know that I am still successful, smart, hard working- even though my job title may not label me that way like it used to. I now know that I don’t need to stamp my college GPA and resume on my forehead to feel worthy and important. That is something that comes from within.

So for those of you out there in a similar situation, whether you are also a self-employed business owner, a stay-at-home mom, a starving artist- know that your worth is not defined by your job title or labels. Work hard at whatever it is that you do and don’t worry about trying to prove that to others. You know that you are awesome and that’s all that matters!!

  1. Chelsea Bell says:

    Between my husband who teaches bagpipes for a living, and having a brother who did professional photography (so I’ve seen a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes work you do when you aren’t actively photographing a wedding), I definitely appreciate and respect the career change you made! I think it is wonderful that you are able to pursue your passion and make a career out of it!

  2. Charlene R Cook says:

    You did the most beautiful job on the engagement and wedding photos for Emily and Frank, and we have had nothing but wonderful words for all your hard work! Everything and every photo is breathtaking and gorgeous !! YOU did on fantastic job on such a HOT summer day, and for that we all are extremely grateful !
    Charlene Cook (mother of the bride)

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