It’s always late at night when my mind won’t stop running in circles. I can sit at my computer for hours during the day and think of nothing to write about but as soon as my head hits the pillow, it’s a rush of thoughts. I’m just sitting here at my computer reflecting on the past few months. It’s been tough. There has been a lot of change and I feel like God is really working in my life but sometimes you have to go through the fire before you’re refined.
I watched a video (posted below) about Jeremy Cowart’s life and I resonated so much with him when he spoke about constantly telling himself that he couldn’t do it. I remember so many instances in elementary, middle, and high school, where learning just felt like too much. In elementary school, I focused so much on perfection that I spent more time erasing than I did listening. In middle school, my friends would fly through their algebra and I would cry at my desk. In high school, besides one dual enrollment pre-calc class and one dual enrollment English class, I specifically enrolled in the “easy” classes so I didn’t have to deal with the stress. Thankfully, by the time I got to high school, I realized being able to correctly answer questions on a test and learn at the same pace as my friends wasn’t what gave me worth. After 9th grade, when I lost my friend and my family went through years of pain that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, I learned to focus on more important things and not dwell on what I wasn’t good at. I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when it came time to apply for colleges, though. There wasn’t anything that I dreamed of being or doing.
I never saw myself in college but I applied to Liberty, Christopher Newport, and James Madison my senior year and I got into all of them. Seeing those acceptance letters, especially from JMU, gave me so much hope. I nervously ended up choosing JMU. I even applied to a specific dorm, moved in with a sweet girl whose senior pictures I did the previous year, and enrolled in classes to start working towards the SMAD (School of Media, Arts and Design) program. The week before classes we had something called FROG week and it was SO MUCH FUN — it was almost better than Young Life camp. Haha! I thought I was going to LOVE it there. But then classes started and I sat through as many as I could before I broke down. I hated it. Most people don’t love school but they also don’t mind it and recognize the pros of being away from home/being with friends outweigh the cons of going to classes every day. Well, I felt differently. All I wanted was to never set foot in a classroom again. So after some time passed, I realized it wasn’t for me. I moved out against my parents’ will (at the time) and I came home.
This was before I had shot a wedding, before I had a website, and before I knew much of anything about the wedding industry. I came home ashamed of the world, feeling absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t want anyone to know what happened — I don’t think I stepped foot out of the house for a month. My parents didn’t really believe in the dream I had of being a photographer at the time so they basically told me I had to figure something out. A couple months went by and I decided I had to give photography a try. I built my own website, emailed a few wedding photographers in the area, and started marketing myself like it was all I had — because it was. If I didn’t want to be in college, I had to make this work.
And here I am now, four years later, with a full-time business, making enough money to support myself. It’s CRAZY. It wasn’t that long ago that I was telling myself I couldn’t do it just like Jeremy Cowart. Granted, I haven’t quite changed the world like he has but I look back at my life in awe because my past is what brought me here. I knew struggle. I knew the feeling of not being good enough. I knew the feeling of thinking I had no skill. So when I began my photography journey and found I was good at it, I fought for it. I think that’s why I have a passion for photography that most people probably don’t have. For me, there’s much more beyond just taking photos. It’s something that literally gave me purpose and I’m so thankful for those of you who have believed in me and trusted in me to take your photos. What an incredible honor.