Losing Myself and The Last Two (and a half) Years
It's crazy to think that it was just under three years ago that I was nearing the end of my 365 days. When I first started shooting properly, when I fell in love with creating pictures, I was 17. I look back on those days, and I wasn't just in love with photography - I was in love with the world. I think I was the happiest I've ever been - totally naive and very aware of it, enjoying the sunshine, the snow, the rain, the wind. It was a period of self-discovery where I felt like I was in control of creating myself - and very simply, I was going to be AWESOME.
Things got a bit messy a long the way - life kicked in. I lost my identity during a relationship which was bad for me, and became someone I disliked. It took me a long long time to become okay with my dreams crumbling for the first time. I had to take a deep breath and let it go, and even that breath took months of preparation.
Finding my feet again, with just myself to find them, seemed impossible at first - but within months of being home, being young and having nothing to do but smile, I was pretty sorted. I was in another great place in my head, as happy as before - just slightly less naive and very wary that that could be quite dangerous.
Stress really kicked in when I moved into my first flat in 2011 - all of a sudden, I had responsibilities! I'd only had a few months practice of earning money, a few awesome things had happened and I figured "hey - I can bank on this happening every month, I'll be fiiiine" not quite realizing the ginormity of the mountain I had taken on.
Being a newly turned 20 year old and renting quite a plush flat in the city centre, purely from your own money from your own business is quite a cool achievement. I got a bit of a rush from that. But I found myself constantly plauged by financial worries, with the stresses of a 30 year old on my head. I didn't plan ahead, got myself right down to an empty bank account every month, and had quite a few little breakdowns. I was so focused on client work that I had no choice but to completely ignore my personal work - only squeezing in flickr uploads max once a month, and generally feeling confused about my style, my passion and questioning whether I'd made a stupid choice trying to be this awesome person with this awesome life.
The more I started to get into personal shooting again, and the more active I became online, the more negativity cropped up - criticism of myself, my life, my morals and my past were all common occurrences of my web inbox. It was a lot to handle, so I decided to withdraw myself. I tweeted once a day, blogged occasionally about client work, and tried to keep myself to myself. Inside my head I became very much "on the fence" in terror of upsetting someone, being someone worthy of hating and questioning. Instead, I threw myself into what made me happy - my boyfriend, earning money and shooting weddings.
Towards the end of last year, I managed to build up a small sum of savings to ease the financial stress. I spent less on personal things, more on business. I thank god I don't have to buy anymore kit! But as I was finally getting the business balance right, though I'd lost so much passion for what I was doing. I'd become a muted version of my 17year old self, too tired to let go and enjoy myself because I was consumed by being a grown up.
This took it's toll on my relationship, my expectations were sky high and I was needy and the majority of my happiness got loaded onto my poor boyfriend. Things came to a head a few months ago, we took a month apart to decide whether we were right for each other and whether we could give each other what we needed.
In that month apart, I completed what I will call Phase 1 of "Aha! There you are!". I was forced into doing my work, enjoying it. I rediscovered old friends and made new ones who are irreplaceable to me. I took pride in being independent again, I enjoyed it!
Phase 2 was learning how to balance the relationship with this new independence once the month was up, and make sure I was doing it all for the right reasons - not to avoid being on my own, but because it made me happier.
Phase 3 seems to have made me come full circle to 17year old me. I've let go of all my bitterness - people are just people, I am just me. I still want to be AWESOME. But in order to do that, I have to let go of the struggle and let it embrace me on it's own, as hippy-ish as that sounds.
I'm enjoying my client work - making it my personal work. I'm starting to do personal shoots once a week, just for my mind to empty out the bad thoughts like I used to. My relationship is flourishing because I no longer have unrealistic expectations for it to provide all my happiness needs - and I feel like I'm back, and ready to swing into action and begin an amazing career, a life to be proud of, to eventually be a mother somewhere near as good as my mother, and to truly truly love someone and to radiate that love every single day.
My therapist said to me: "Why is it so important to you that you do so well in life? That you score 10/10 on every life box?"
Well, I still don't know that. But all I know is that instead of sitting by my computer, listening to music which makes me imagine things and moments that don't exist yet, dreaming of all the amazing memories I am going to have - I am going to get out there and make them happen. It is just me in this world, I will always be on my own inside my mind. But I will share it, and share it with as many people who want to know - if it puts a smile on their face or helps them realize something they forgot, then I've done something good. Something AWESOME.