Friday, September 17, 2010

How in the hell do I...

...make my life what I want it to be?

This is a thought I've had for the last few days.  I recently interviewed a bunch of potential interns, and made a hiring decision for JBe Photography.  It's official, I'm a grown-up.  I've got an intern, I'm paying someone to do stuff for me, for my company.

It feels wonderful and weird and awesome.

It's reminded me of the journey I have been on for the last four years, and what has led me to this point.  It makes me wonder where I'll be in four or five years from now.  It's also made me think of the people who hate their jobs.  I get questions from folks quite often about how I started in photography, or if I trained under somebody, or how I ended up where I am.  Honestly, I think these questions are far less about "how to start your own photography business," as they are, "how can I do what I want to do and be happy?"

I had a conversation about this very thing with a friend of mine tonight.  She's in her mid thirties, and just started Law School.  She's had tons of various jobs from bartender to esthetician, to you name it.  She's just now at the point in her life where she's feeling happy with who she is and where she's going.  I decided to chat with her to determine what might be good advice for people who are feeling stuck.  STUCK.  That's such a frustrating feeling.  Stuck in your job, or in your relationship, or in your life.  Stuck feeling like there's no way for you to start over, or no way for you to end one thing and begin a new one.

Kristin said two things to me tonight that really stuck out:

1.  You can either do what makes you happy, or do what keeps you comfortable.

This is HUGE.  This is so true.  Now, I'll preface by saying that I understand how ridiculously lucky I am.  I'm 28 years old, I own a photography business and I'm in a happy, long term relationship.  I understand that to some of my very close single friends in jobs they dislike, they might easily think, "Jenn, you can shove it."  But, I wasn't always this person.

I worked in Property Management for seven years, and I drained myself.  Emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally.  I worked and worked at a thankless job where my gifts and abilities were ignored and stifled.  I was exhausted and frustrated.  At the same time, I also worked at a "relationship" with a guy who felt nothing for me but the comfort I gave him on a drunken, cold and lonely night.

So, when did it change?  It's cliche', but it was sort of like a light bulb.  I was laying in bed and the thought suddenly and simply came to me:  "Is this really what I want?"  Do I want this man who doesn't love me?  Do I want to keep pining after him until he drops me for the next best thing?  Do I want to waste the rest of my life on a company that doesn't value and appreciate me? Do I work and work there until I retire, and wish to Zeus I'd done something that made me happy instead?  Isn't there something I can do that will be of value to others and make me feel like I'm doing what I should be doing?

So I had to make the jump.  I had to invest my life in something else, live it in a different way.

I had to choose.

So, I chose a man who valued and loved me.  One who made me laugh instead of cry.  One who did the dishes after I cooked dinner.  One who I knew would be there in the morning, support me when I fell down and through any tears or tough times or fatness or anger or frustration or whatever... would tell me, "I love you, you're beautiful, you're worthy, you're capable.  You're amazing."

I chose to look at what I loved to do and make a career out of it.  For me, that meant building a company from the ground up on my own.  For someone else, that might mean going back to school, quitting their job, switching careers, leaving a higher paying position for an entry-level spot in a totally different field and starting from the bottom.  But sometimes, that's what it takes.

Kristin said, "I had to do something I hated for a little bit... but it was a trade off.  Hard work and crap hours then, but happiness in the long run."  She mentioned how much she'd sacrificed in personal comfort, her preferred lifestyle and her finances.  She doesn't go out to eat much.  She saves instead of spends.  But it's worth it.

And this leads to the second thing she said:

2.  What was I waiting for?

Kristen told me, "I spent my twenties waiting for things to happen.  I was waiting for things I wanted to be... to be.  And you know what?  They didn't happen.  Then I got into my 30's and thought, 'What am I waiting for?'"

I was waiting for things to happen too.  I was waiting for the guy to "come around," to finally see me for the beautiful, wonderful person I thought he should see me as.  To finally realize I was his saving grace and his one true love.  I was waiting for this company to finally wake up and smell the freakin' daisies and realize my potential, my abilities, my talents.  ...But after seven years none of that happened.  Can you imagine how many more years I would have wasted if I didn't do something about it?  How much more frustration and heartache I would have gone through?  How much time I would have let slip by... unhappy, unfulfilled and unrealized?

So... I'll ask the question to you.  What are you waiting for?



Unknown said...

Great question...still looking for what I feel passionate about. I found the wonderful man and had 4 babies in my twenties. Now i need to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Then do it!

Karina said...

You are very lucky to have come to this realization so young and that is great that you have your own company. It's something to be so proud of and I'm sure it's very fulfilling. Great post!

NJ said...

Retirement! :) I do love my job though even the frustrating bits!

The Insatiable Host said...

i. have. no. clue.

Jen i have been feeling like something has been hanging on my shoulders for weeks and I can't get my ass out of this funk. I have the husband and love for sure. i have a job that does make me happy and allows balance for my family and time with my kids...but what do i do for me?

i read your post 3 times and yes, i cried once because everything is making me cry - but mostly because when i was 28 i was asking myself the same question.

When i turned 30 i thought that maybe, just maybe I had started doing something right...I mean...I had made new friends (although they are friends that i haven't met in person) i branched out, did something new...but now, I let myself fall into the rabbit hole again...

I am still sitting at the mad hatters tea party and no one has arrived but I'll let you know when i wake up and see what I have missed.


Former Fat Bride said...

Thank you for this post. I have tears in my eyes; I literally just posted about being STUCK. It is something I've been battling with for a few months now.
What am I waiting for?
I have no idea. Thank you.

jennifer said...

Your post just made me so happy! Im in my twenties and have worked in healthcare and human services for years. I have degrees in Business and Marketing. I'm all over the place! I ,love to hear about other people's point of view on this topic! very enlightening.

Claire Dawn said...

Yeah, that first question...

Truth is I'm not very good at suffering today for the benefit of tomorrow, so I've been living lukewarm for a while.

Trying to step it up.

Crystal said...

Love this.

I just quit my job a Veterinary Technician about 6 months ago so I could go back to school. I'd been doing it for about 8 years and I made me happy at first but I'd been miserable for years. I took a lower paying job so that I could just get out of that unhappy place and focus on what would make me happy...which is finishing my degree. The only thing I'm scared of now is figuring out what I want to do. I've wanted to work with animals since middle now that I'm over that what DO I want to do?

I have no idea.

Unknown said...

Wonderfully said. Thanks for the inspiration.

Unknown said...

I am in tears - literally blubbering my eyes out in front of my pc.

I am pondering this question at the moment. I have been working for the same government department for 10 years, and I have just taken a six week break. I go back to work on Thursday and the mere thought of it sends me into a panic. I don't want to go back.

You are an amazing woman and I am in awe of your ability to have made this happen for you.

I am in awe.

Nicole said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time, not for me necessarily but for my best friend that is struggling. I hope that when she reads this it gives her the strength and courge she needs. Thank you for this.

Rachel said...

Man, I can relate to this post.

I know what I am waiting for, though. I am waiting to make more money. Because right now I am neither happy nor comfortable. I am living paycheck to paycheck right now and if I left my job to persue a career that makes even less money, I'm screwed.

So right now I'm so lost and without a goal. Sucks!

You are an inspiration! Thank you for this post!

Kendra said...

Thank you so much for posting this!!! I'm having a really rough day today and I certainly needed to have something kind of "slap" me in the face! I am young and just had my first baby. I have a great man...but I really feel stuck otherwise! I loved school but never finished...I'm working a part time office job that is redundant and stupid...and I, like you, love photography...and would really like to do more of it! (rather than just being my daughter's personal paparazzi)

Thanks again!

International Woman of Mystery said...

Thanks for this post. I'm about to take a big leap in my life after realizing that I have also spent my 20's "waiting." Reading this post made me feel more hopeful.

Jessica Fuchs said...

Jenn.. I thank you for posting this. It wasn't too far in the distant past that I asked myself that very question. I have changed elements in my life that did not make me truly happy and embarked on the journey of LIFE!

btw... totally reposted this on my fb page. <3

Unknown said...

This post is beautiful! It took me going to college for two years and hiding my passions, for me to realize what I want to do. I'm 21 and I know I have a lot to learn to get to where I need to be, but I know with hard work and determination, and maybe some luck, I can get there. Thanks for this encouraging post! Love it!

only a number said...

This was so well written. As to your question... I guess I'm not waiting for anything! I'm ready to roll!

Kristy @Loveandblasphemy said...

Don't you just love getting older and wiser? No, seriously, I'm serious. I love it. I totally get what you are saying. Well said. I'm not waiting for shit anymore. I know that if I want something, it is up to me. If I am "stuck" for some reason, sometimes I have to bloom where I'm planted for a while and take small steps to get out.

Anonymous said...

This was a really insightful blog. I definitely enjoyed it

Emma | Fork and Good said...

I haven't commented on your blog before, but this hit a nerve with me. Written in a way to spark my light bulb! It raises the question, why do we wait for things to happen to us? Thank you for yet more inspiration.

cpurple said...

It's amazing how all these people from different places feel the same thing. You've touched many hearts with this post including myself. For me, this is an affirmation. Congratulations on taking action and creating what you manifest.