Don't Lose Sight of Your Dreams
Updated: Jan 13
If you watched the Oscar's this year - or have been on social media in the last 48 hours; you've probably seen the news about Lady Gaga winning an Oscar for A Star Is Born's "Shallow". Now this is clearly not the first time she's been recognized for her hard work, and obviously her achievement is on a much more grandiose scale, but her words nearly moved me to tears during her acceptance speech.
Acceptance Speech Can be Found Here:
"All I have to say is that this is hard work. I've worked hard for a long time and it's not about winning, but what it's about is not giving up. If you have a dream fight for it...and it's not about how many times you get rejected...it's about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going. Thank you."
- Lady Gaga, 2019 Oscars
I started my photography business 3 years ago now, and I can tell you, running a business is no simple task. Logistics, business, and technical aspects aside - a year after I began, I received an incredibly hateful email telling me to give up and that I was just in it for the money. I realize this was from someone who had a bitter taste in their mouth due to a failed relationship, but it stung nonetheless. This was the first time I stuck to my guns, and decided I would prove them wrong.
The second time I was challenged into nearly quitting, was before my transition to lifestyle photography. I took a hiatus, and completely rebranded myself as previously mentioned - but before any of that happened, I seriously considered giving up on my business. I was investing hundreds of dollars in camera gear and props, spending hours online trying to learn how to "up" my game, but it never seemed like enough. I won't go too far into this, since I already wrote a whole blog posting about it (which can be found here). However, quitting my job in October to pursue photography full-time has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.
To dive further into it, I probably left my job at the worst time imaginable. I was moving apartments, my parents were moving out of province, and I was solely responsible for my income; I had basically stripped away every security blanket I have ever known. As someone who suffers from anxiety, or not - this is generally a bad idea.
That being said - I gave myself a 3 month deadline. I told myself, after 3 months, if I can not fully support myself; that's when I'll start looking for a part time job to help me pay the bills. If there's two smart things I did, it was having back-up emergency fund, and creating deadlines to hold myself accountable.
The first two months actually went alright. It was chaos of trying to figure out this self-employed thing, but I made it work. It wasn't until the holidays rolled in - that things got tight - and not just for myself either. January and February are typically bad for any business, unless your business is a gym. Just the other day I tried going to Red Water Grill - a higher-end restaurant chain for dinner - and it was permanently closed. Calgary's economy is still struggling - I see businesses go under every. single. day, and frankly it's depressing. Now more than ever, is it time to invest in small businesses.
Getting back on track, from day 1 of quitting my job I thought about running back and begging on my knees to get it back. Many sleepless nights I spent wondering "did I make the biggest mistake of my life?" Mix that with some crippling self-doubt, no family home to move back into, a cat to feed, and pile of bills = the perfect recipe for disaster. After the 3 month deadline was up, I knew I'd have to put my ego aside and get a part-time job, at least for now.
If the amount of businesses closing wasn't already enough of an indicator for a shit economy - trying to find a (part-time) job will give you a rude awakening. Not only was it a blow to my ego to have to find a part time job, it was a real slap in the face when I got rejection email after rejection email. Apparently, having a degree and four years in advertising means getting rejected even from coffee shops.
I am not even trying to be dramatic when I say I was scared I was going to end up homeless. Thankfully, I have a big enough support-system that it would never actually happen; but the thought did cross my mind (also, I fully acknowledge how privileged I have been in my life and I realize that there are people out there dealt a far worse hand than I). I began to budget like I never have before, and stopped seeing my friends for the fear that they'd want to go somewhere that cost MONEY. The smallest purchases would give me buyers-remorse, and I even started selling some of my own belongings.
Eventually I did find a part-time job, and I really lucked out because my boss supports my photography business - he'll let me leave work if an on-call birth gig were to arise, and is generally flexible if I need it. It also helps with the bills and being able to sleep at night, which I will never take for granted again.
"Jasmine, what does any of this have to do with Lady Gaga?" bringing me back to my main point - the hardest part about getting a part-time job was the thought that I was giving up on my dreams. I believed I had failed as a photographer - because I wasn't able to make it my full-time job...but it's not. The biggest takeaway from all of this if you're going to remember anything is that having a side gig is not giving up - it means you're still fighting for the dream.
Maybe one day I can write a blog post about what a success-story my life has become; but until that day comes, I'm going to keep fighting for the dream.