Last week I shared the first part of my journey, on how I went from working as a full time lawyer, to a full time photographer. But because I like to talk a lot, I decided to break it in half! If you missed last week's post, I covered how I ended up being a lawyer, and how I got started in photography - this week's post covers how I quit my job as a lawyer and transitioned into full time photography, the biggest lesson I learned along the way (and what this means for you).
If you missed last week's post. make sure you click this linky-dinky to read it, then come back here!
QUITTING LAW + GOING FULL TIME WITH PHOTOGRAPHY
After realising that I had survived the initial launch of my business, a whole new set of fears kicked in - especially a fear of being a failure (aren't we all though?). I was also majorly panicked at the idea of my legal and photography worlds intersecting, the last thing I wanted was potential legal clients or colleagues googling me and finding my photography blog and reading all about me (yikes). Luckily Dan and I had just become engaged and I was able to launch this business under my future married name, which helped to keep things private.
Thankfully, I lost my fear of failure pretty quickly. Honestly, I just kind of took a back seat and took my ego out of the equation. I asked myself what my definition of failure was, and then I asked myself how I could make sure it didn't happen; and what I could do to fix it if I did "fail". But if you can fix it, it's not really failure is it? I think my boss also inspired me, because she used to tell me that nothing was ever so broken it couldn't be fixed. And if it's not broken, it's not failure - it's just a lesson, and an opportunity to grow.
But what I did find hard to let go of though, was feeling like a huge fraud, in two ways. First, I am a self-taught photographer. I never formally studied, I just learned through experience; and at what point do you feel like a legitimate photographer? There's no certificate you can put against your name to say, yep! I'm qualified! It's just you, and your business. Are you a legitimate photographer when you run a business, or once your photography reaches a certain point? It's a question I still don't have an answer for, but I'm always exploring it.
The other big worry I had was about feeling super inauthentic. Keeping my two worlds separate was really hard, and they both started to feel like my dirty little secrets, which made me feel like a fraud; which then made me feel like I wasn't writing genuinely and authentically in this space (GUYS - IT WAS ALL IN MY HEAD).
Thankfully, I was able to grow this little business enough that I was able to quit being a lawyer within eighteen months after launching (WOOHOOOOOO!).
It wasn't enough to replace my income as a lawyer, but I had reached the point in my business where I needed more time than I had to work on it and build it. I probably should have quit earlier, but I was so desperately afraid of disappointing my boss and my family after they had invested so much time and finances in my legal career, that I held back, and tried so hard to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be (I am a life-long people-pleaser in case you couldn’t tell).
But eventually it became clear to me that I was holding myself back, and that I was lying to myself, and to everyone else. I realised that I was a disappointment anyway, especially to my boss. Maybe that sounds harsh, but I couldn’t and wasn’t being the person she wanted or needed me to be no matter how hard I tried, and I never could be.
So there I was, feeling guilty about not living up to people’s expectations and wishes, afraid of being judged and of being a disappointment, then being afraid of being an even bigger disappointment, feeling guilty for holding my boss back from growing her business, holding myself back from growing mine, guilty at taking away a stable income that was paying off debts, guilty for wanting to quit right before Christmas….oy vey.
You get it.
This was me....