Six Year Anniversary.
Some days, I appreciate the nostalgia of “Facebook Memories”, other days I hate them and then some days I learn something about myself just by understanding where I was when those memories were posted.
I think it is important to remember that no matter where you are in life at this very moment, there was a time that you thought you would never be where you are right now.
Six years ago, nearly to the date, I left my “full-time” job and at the time I said this was to pursue photography full-time, though that wasn’t entirely accurate.
The truth of the matter was, I made more money at my Mon-Fri job than I did on my weekend gig as a photographer at the time. And although I made the decision that upon quitting I would put my heart and soul in to my career as a photographer, that is not why I quit.
I quit because I knew I was replaceable in the wide scheme of things and more importantly, I was not happy.
I was working Mon-Fri 9:00PM to 5:00AM with a five-year-old and a two-year-old at home. I’d worked third shift from the time that my oldest was four weeks old. I endured losing the night-time bonding routine with my babies because of a job that could easily replace me.
I remember feeling at my wits end. I could not afford daycare and I even if I could have, I had a difficult time justifying daycare solely so I could sleep. For several years on end, I averaged approximately 4.5 – 5 hrs. of sleep a night, if I was lucky, after spending most days awake for nearly 20 hours at a time.
In June of 2012, I decided to request being moved to second shift. I’d worked Mon-Fri on third shift for five years for that company and with small children at home and felt that aspect alone was all the justification that I needed to request a different shift.
The lack of sleep impacted my work tremendously. It did not matter that for four years I was always early to my shift and always took every single call and was a great employee for that company. By the end of my final year there all of this was irrelevant, I was showing up late and that is entirely out of my character.
If you know me personally, you know that to be on time is to be late, and to actually be late… is a nightmare, for me.
The fact that I did not care, the fact that I would sleep until the last second that I could, told me that I needed something to change in order to get back my mental health.
So, I sat down in my supervisor’s office and … did something else completely outside of my character: I started bawling. I felt guilty because I was not the only person working this shift with children, but I had no help. All my family lived out of state and as I stated, we just could not seem to budget daycare, which in hindsight was likely our own fault but that is irrelevant today.
I do not cry in front of anyone. I’m very particular about vulnerability and those who have seen me cry are pretty few and far between, it makes me feel like I’m not strong enough to endure whatever life has thrown at me, so being there in her office bawling and pleading to please move me to second shift, was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
When they came back with the excuse that “second shift will not change your sleep, therefore sorry but we cannot move you”, (which is literal BS, btw… it was a difference of being able to be up from 8:00AM – 11:00PM and sleep at night as opposed to being up from 8:30PM – 3:30PM and sleeping for 5 hours until my next shift – which is what I did with two toddlers at home – that is a LONG time to be awake with two small kids, or in general… I was losing my mind, basically. But I am not saying they should have catered to a single employee’s hardship by any means, they had every right to say no. But their excuse sucked and was not logical at all, imo.), I chose to walk away.
And that was the BEST decision I ever made for myself and my family.
I remember the morning after they informed me that they would not allow me to move to another shift, I waited for my then husband to get home from work and I explained that I could no longer do it. If I had to find a different job, fine… but I couldn’t do it anymore and that if I did not quit this job, I worried for my mental state.
I was, in every sense of the word, depressed.
I didn’t even really know that I had slipped in to a depression or that this was what was happening until I came out on the other side of it.
During that time my house was messier than my home had ever been and I weighed sixty pounds more than I do today. All I did was wish I could be sleeping, I was irritable and most days I felt like I was putting too much on my plate. When I was not working this job, I had sessions and weddings on the weekend for my photography business. I was working months on end with no day off and was not allowing myself any time to rest.
I wanted this photography thing so badly that I could not quit it despite that doing both was quite possibly killing me.
When I sat down and looked at comments from clients, messages from those I had photographed who thanked me for their portraits, who encouraged me to continue pursuing this solely because they supported me, I knew that if I gave up photography for the job in which I was not only irreplaceable at but that was unwilling to work with me, that I would regret it.
I can say though, with absolutely certainty: I do NOT regret quitting that job.
And being a small business owner in an over-saturated field is not always easy. Sometimes it is downright stressful and can even make you feel like a failure at times but the majority of the time, it’s amazing.
My point is, six years ago, I barely believed in myself. I had tried convincing everyone around me I could do this but at the time, I did not even believe it myself.
You have to understand that at that time and throughout my marriage: I made more money than he did. (I am since divorced and that is a whole different story on doing things we fear for the sake of our sanity.) So we were losing a HUGE chunk of our income at the time and it was a real risk to take. But when I look back, that alone was the reason I stayed unhappy in so many aspects of my life for so long: worrying about finances.
But there is always ways to make money. You do NOT have to be unhappy doing it..
Where I am today is something I could not have even dreamed of having six years ago and it took stepping in to the unknown, jumping straight in to a pool of fear to accomplish what I have now. And it has not always been easy, there have been times in which I have felt completely defeated and much like I was treading water and going nowhere.
This is what motivates me to continue pushing forward as a small business owner in a highly competitive field.
And this is what keeps me motivated on a person level. We sometimes need to give ourselves more credit on our journey through life. Understand that there have been hardships in which you’ve pulled through and came out not only unscathed but in a better position than you were before.
So, if I have any advice to those of you out there on any kind of personal journey it’s to think back at a time in your life that where you are now was a place you only wished about and understand that someday you just may be looking back on today years from now thinking the same thing.
Never give up. And always always pursue what you feel is best for your soul, even if that means having to step foot in to the unknown.
Enjoy your day today.