So back in 2009, I was a high school English. I had just finished my master's degree in urban education. I was teaching teaching high school kiddos, and I did not know the first thing about starting and running a business, but something else was very, very clear for me. I really wasn't happy at my job. I had almost no time for myself.
And I felt really trapped in a system that didn't allow me to try out new ideas.
It was kind of a huge bummer because I had always wanted to be a teacher and maybe it was just my luck with, with the folks that I ended up getting paired with. Or my supervisors, maybe it was just not a good fit, but it was kind of soul crushing to be able to creatively express myself only if I had permission and approval to do so. Teaching has obviously become more and more and more regulated as time has gone on. And I understand that for sure. But there was a level of hoops to jump through that was just really kind of mind numbing and just frustrating.
So I was, I mean, my first teaching contract, this is back in '09. It was $33,000, which is like at the time it was amazing to come out of grad school and be making money and have a salary. But I mean, I was barely making ends meet and I knew that burnout looked around the corner. I'm sure if you are a teacher and you're listening to this, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
And I really sensed that there had to be a path to just a better human existence. Particularly one without alarm clocks.
You've heard me talk about that before, but it's always been my thing. When I was in kindergarten, my mother had to get me an alarm clock, because she would come and wake me up and then I wouldn't get up for school.
And so she got me this little snow white and the seven dorms alarm clock. I can still remember it. It was really, it made the most awful noise. But I have always been a sleeper and I've always really struggled with mornings. It's something that has literally been a part of my life since, since day one. I think we're all wired a little differently.
So when I, when I talk about the alarm clock thing, it's just, it's just me. I really need a good chunk of sleep and I always have, but anyway, I believed and I still do that. Didn't have to feel hard. It didn't have to feel energy sucking, and there was more to life than a Monday through Friday slog. I got that creepy, weird feeling on Sunday afternoon, that was just gross. It was like, it was just like a weight in the center of my stomach. The week was going to start all over again. Don't get me wrong. For some people having a schedule, having a boss, having all that stuff really, really works. But if you're like me, it just, it just was, it was tough. I was really struggling.
It felt like kind of like walking through molasses. I don't know. Not that I've ever walked through molasses, but I imagine that's what it would feel like.
So from that kind of joyless place, I started figuring out my why.
I figured out why I wanted to move into photography. And money was a big factor in my decision. My own market research showed massive opportunity and growth in photography, but there were other reasons for my why that were, I think, a lot more powerful.
So I really wanted to see and do a lot in the world, which wasn't possible with my schedule.
Yes, teachers have spring break and some summer break time off, but it's really not as great as it sounds because you're very, very limited to when you can take stretches of time off. And at the time when I was married, my ex-husband was a touring musician, and I wanted to be able to tag along.
Sometimes I wanted to be able to be a part of that world. And I just couldn't. And so that was really frustrating. And in addition to that, I just, there was a lot of stuff. I moved away to Hawaii when I was 18 and I've been on the go ever since. So there was just this kind of inability to really find the time that I needed to be able to get out and do stuff.
Also, my soul was just a creative soul dying to express itself. I really wanted to feel like in flow when I was working, not like I was, you know, suffocating, you know, I really wanted that feeling of excitement and momentum when I showed up to my work and then the opportunity to grow and make money was great.
I mean, there's no limit. There was just an unlimited opportunity to grow.
But also I really wanted to give back. I'm really passionate about the environment. I'm really passionate about animals and all that kind of stuff. That's sort of my number one. And so I wanted to be able to donate money and donate time and do other things that I really wasn't able to do with what I was making in the time that I had.
So I graduated with my master's in education and less than six months after doing that, I quit teaching and I became a full-time photographer, which is bonkers. There are a few other reasons how that shook out, which you can read about on the blog and on my, about section, but for the most part, that's kind of a timeline and yeah, it was super scary and I totally messed up.
And also when I look back on it, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself.
I felt pretty incredible. I know this sounds silly to those of you that are morning people, but just for the first time in my life, being able to sleep in on a Monday or Tuesday, you know, it was like, life-changing, it felt so good to release that weight that I carried on Sunday night and to release the monotony and the stress that I carried Monday through Friday, it just felt awesome. And because of that, I became more creative. Like I had more energy, not just for photography, but just for things that I love to do. I love to play music. I love all things creative. Art, knitting, whatever. I love to garden.
I love a lot of stuff and I finally had energy for it again.
So if you're listening and you're like, I used to like to do XYZ, but I'm just too worn out. Part of that is what I'm talking about– just freeing yourself up so that you have the time and the energy to do the stuff you love. So all that to say my life was without question the best it had ever been.
And that's a big statement and it was actually way better than I thought it would be. But one of the bigger things that came out of it was realizing that I had learned on my own how to start and grow a five and then six figure business. That was a huge gift I knew then that I could do this. I knew that I could do difficult amazing things, because once you do it, the fear kind of goes away. You know, that's been said many different ways over the years, but just the act of doing the thing usually removes the fear that you have of doing the things. So it was a great feeling. It was awesome to realize like, oh my gosh.
And when I look back now, this is year 12. When I look back and I can say, I have been a self-employed person a hundred percent for 12 years, that's so exciting to me.
I'm not saying it's like been awesome the whole way. Of course not, but it's been way better than where I came from. Way better.
I was not feeling great and I was not feeling happy. So if there's like a tiny, tiny spark inside of you buried somewhere, I am here. This whole episode is just me here to tell you that you can do it too. I would say almost every single client I have, every single photo business help mentorship student has self-doubt, has a little bit of confusion, overwhelm imposter syndrome. It's all normal, but you can definitely do this. And one of the other kind of pieces of pushback, I get a lot is like, “oh, there's so many photographers.” And I say, well, that is a market that's doing really, really well. It sounds like people aren't gonna stop needing photographers anytime soon.
So if you can look into a space where there's a lot of action and a lot of people doing really well, there's more opportunity for you too. So you can do this. I am here to help you get there, whether it's this free podcast twice a week, or whether you want to go deeper and check out the Greenhouse, you can go to