It’s been 6 months-ish since I last stepped foot in my old agency office, and so it’s been 6 months that I’ve been doing my own thing over here, trying to find a rhythm, creating my own schedule, and generally figuring out how I want my life to go. After years of being on someone else’s schedule — school days, college days, general workdays — it’s been difficult fitting my life into a new structure.
Soon after I quit my day job, I still felt this ghostly presence of it around me, like a creeping halo. When I woke up on my own time, instead of using an alarm, in the weeks following my final workday, I had a feeling of “I am playing hooky today! haha!”
Or when I checked the clock and it would be noon, I’d think, “People are eating lunch right now.” These days, I eat lunch whenever I want to.
It’s been 6 months since I left, and it’s taken about 6 months for that odd feeling of “should-I-be-somewhere-I’m-not?” feeling to ebb.
Nowadays, I really feel like I’m coming into my own. I can focus on my business as much as I want, without being distracted by too many other things. I have a routine that is starting to work for me. I’m not exhausted all the time and have rediscovered the joy of having the time to read books again. I can experiment with new techniques and devote my time and attention to the stuff that matters. I might write an opposite post at some point about the first 2 years of business and how absolutely horrible it can be, but right now… I’m owning it.
I want to share an anecdote with you. Back when I still worked at the old state agency, I received a mass email from someone in a sister department to mine. The email invited us to an engagement party in a break room for one of the employees, and asked if we could all bring something or do something for the couple — you know, easy stuff, like bring a liter of Sprite, be in charge of the music, that sort of thing. At this point, I had been shooting weddings for over a year and thought it might be nice if I took pictures at the party. Nothing fancy, just random photos of people enjoying themselves, nibbling on cupcakes, chatting amongst themselves. (State agency daytime party equals just punch, no liquor.)
The woman organizing the party thought it was a great idea, and so on the day of the party I brought my camera. No one at the agency knew that I was a photographer, no one had a hint that this was a second job that I was pursuing, and to make it worse — I didn’t own up to it at all.
I took a photo of the groom- and bride-to-be with my D700, which has a very impressive click, and he said to me: “Wow, that’s a nice camera!”
You know what I said? I said, “Oh, thanks. It’s my dad’s. I borrowed it for the day.”
Why would I say that? I wasn’t ashamed of my business. It was doing pretty well, in fact. But for some reason I did not want to divulge this, didn’t want to start a conversation that would inevitably lead to price discussions, wedding industry gripes, and quips about bridezillas. I’d timidly stepped into this conversation once before with my coworkers, by offhandedly remarking how much we spent on our own wedding photos, and you’d have thought that Beyoncé had died, the way they reacted. So at my day job, I was just a quiet person who did my work and did not mention anything about my creative side.
It’s taken some time for me to come out of my shell. At parties, when I was still juggling two jobs, if someone asked me what I did, I would timidly say, “I shoot weddings?” It wasn’t what was supporting us financially, so it really did feel like a question to me.
But now, I own it. Yeah, I shoot weddings. I love my job. Yeah, it’s awesome. Yes, there’s tons of cake! Cake every weekend. Cake all the time!
And I’ve gotten better at dealing with my daily schedule, too. The last time I updated, I wrote about how I was trying to structure my day the way I wanted it to be structured. If that means reading as soon as I wake up, so be it. Getting my workout in before I turn on a computer, sure! I work Saturdays and use Mondays for chores — grocery shopping and batch-meal-cooking (crock pots are genius), vacuuming and decompressing. My new routine makes sense to me.
I don’t know how else to say it, because really, the past few months have felt more dream-like than reality, but: this is my life now. This is what I do. This is how I am.
This is what makes me happy.