I can remember this day like it was yesterday. I was scrolling mindlessly through instagram (bad habit alert), when I came across another photographer’s story. It was a photographer who was successful, with a thriving business, beautiful clients, and an enviable jet setting lifestyle flying from place to place, both domestically and internationally And on her stories she captioned a photo of herself on a late night flight editing on her laptop with, “If you love your clients enough, you do anything to make it happen.”
I wanted to throw my phone against the wall. I wanted to shake her through the internet and say, “Just you wait. Just wait until you have kids and can’t be flying off to a new local in the middle of the night. And wait until you’re so exhausted that won’t even want to anymore.”
But in that moment, the problem wasn’t with that other photographer. I might have been seriously annoyed with what I perceived to be a message that was promoting the hustle hustle hustle culture that can sometimes have it’s own negative effects, but again, the problem wasn’t with her. THE PROBLEM WAS WITH ME.
Because I had yet to learn the SINGLE most important lesson I would need to survive (and you will too) the combination of growing a business while also raising young kids simultaneously. And that lesson was this:
I had been living in the dangerous space of comparison and trying to stack my own accomplishments up vs. those of other peoples. But what I had failed to realize is that I was comparing myself to young girls in their early 20s who were only responsible for taking care of themselves. Or I was comparing myself to other photographers who had kids, but who had been in business for 10 years already and had a well oiled machine of a business with systems and workflows and things I had yet to put into place. Or I was comparing myself to the husband and wife duos who split the responsibility. OF COURSE my life was going to look different than theirs. Because it WAS different.
And what was all that comparison doing? It was creating an impossible standard to live up to. And the worst part about it is, it was my own fault.
What I had failed to realize is that I was never going to thrive, or hell, even survive, if I continued to place impossible standards of what other people’s businesses looked like on the outside world of social media to the very real inside circumstances of running my business while I had a three year old toddler at home with another baby on the way. I wasn’t even riding on the same race track as them, but I had told myself the lie that I somehow needed to keep up.
I thought that success looked like jetting off to Paris for an engagement session even though I didn’t even WANT to go to Paris. Not while I had little kids at home. But I was living under the guise that what success looks like for another person was what success should look like for me. And that is all wrong.
Since that day, I’ve had to give myself the grace to realize that I’m probably going to grow my business a little slower than some other people. I had to build my own standards of success and tune out the outside noise. I had to realize that while I might not be jet setting around the world, I had created a space for myself in which I was able to eat lunch with my son EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And isn’t that what I had so desperately wanted while I was in the throes of depression and chained to a classroom desk just a year or two before?
I’ve embraced that for me slow growth is just going to mean strong roots. I’ve embraced that I don’t have to look like everyone else. I’ve embraced that if something doesn’t feel right to me and my own unique set of circumstances, that’s it’s ok not to do it, even if it’s what will help me grow my business faster. I’ve embraced that I am growing my business to support the life I love and not the other way around. I’ve embraced that being a Mom will always come first right now.
So today I want to give you the permission to stop comparing yourself to everyone you see on the internet. I want to give you the permission to throw out that false standard of “success’ you’ve built up in your mind. I want to give you the permission to start operating from a place that not only will your journey look different from other people’s, but it SHOULD. And I want you to understand that everything you thought was holding you back is actually just the opposite. It’s your secret sauce. It’s what makes you uniquely different from other people and what will make your business not only survive, but thrive.
It’s time to get off the hamster wheel of comparison and start living your life by your own terms. And not by some shiny version of success as seen on instagram. Remember that you are different. And remember that’s not just a good thing, but a great thing. Embrace that. And I promise you not only will it help you succeed in business, but it will allow you to live a happier, more fulfilling life. And in the end, isn’t that what we’re all after anyway?
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