Yesterday evening, after I’d gotten home from a potential client meeting, Walt surprised me with three red-white-and-blue roses and a bar of dark chocolate. “Happy working-for-yourself-for-one-year, sweetie,” he said, as he handed me the gifts. Awww! I knew it was that anniversary, but earlier in the day I’d basically just given myself a pat on the back (and vegan ice cream) and I thought that was that. His surprise gesture was so sweet.
It’s been a year, you guys! A lot has happened in the past year. In the 365 days since hanging up my state agency lanyard, I’ve:
- shot or helped shoot 26 weddings
- went to my first wedding photography convention
- watched my sister get married on a Mexican beach
- dyed my hair back to a strange color
- redesigned this site
- got into a car wreck
- had Sweet Ritual 12 times*
* obviously, Sweet Ritual is an ice cream shop in Austin. It’s vegan (for my lactose-intolerant belly) and DELICIOUS.
But it hasn’t been all up-up-up. There have been a lot of down-times too. I think there’s a certain mythos of working for yourself — getting up when you want, doing what you want, working when you want — that makes you think that once you’ve gotten there, everything will be sunny-side-up, and that’s not the case. (I liken it to people who think “My life will be perfect once I lose 10 pounds”; then they lose the weight and realize that life deals curve balls to skinny people too.)
There are those wonderful days when you open your eyes, make a leisurely breakfast, get a bunch of happy emails, book a wedding, have a productive session (be it an actual shoot or making a giant dent in editing), and still have time to put your feet up on the couch that evening and watch an episode of your favorite TV show. But then there are also those mundane days where nothing seems to happen: your inbox is just spam, a couple tells you they’re choosing someone else, you realize that the toilet needs scrubbing and you really can’t put it off any more because the scuzz is growing more scuzz, and you just don’t want to do anything.
I’m going to be totally honest with you and say: there are more of those “blah” days than those awesome days. It’s been a year, and I still haven’t quite gotten into the right groove. Daily life is still an effort; bad habits are hard to break. And those bad habits of mine are: constant attachment to my inbox, neglecting to exercise consistently because I get caught up editing or designing something, and occupying my time dreaming up ways to make my business even better.
The struggle is never over. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve become more concerned about the status of my business now than when I was working, because there are new things to worry about. Like, This is how much it costs to operate my business but people do not want to pay it, or I may have accidentally offended that vendor and that is bad for business relationships, or Am I spending too much time worrying about my work? my booking rate? my blogging schedule? Am I not spending enough time worrying about these things?
How can I get better?
In fact, I think that this past year has been great in some ways, but in my personal life I haven’t seen much growth. The biggest reason why I wanted to leave the agency and work for myself was because I wanted more time to experience life. I don’t understand American work culture — all those waking hours pounding away at a desk under fluorescent light, with only a cumulative week off per year? It’s madness. And yet here I am, doing it to myself all over again. I’m a homebody by nature so there were few reasons why I would venture out of the house.
So now, now that there’s a year of self-employment behind me and another year stretches ahead, here are my New (Working For Myself) Year resolutions.
- shooting for pleasure, not just for work!
- committing to an actual date night with Walt where we go out, instead of our constant nights in!
- having a dine-out meal once a week with a friend, be it a fellow photographer/creative or college friend or anyone else!
- actually exercise consistently!
- try to get out of the house by myself to do things; not just for errands, but, like… chill out in a coffee shop or something!
- a day where I just unplug and actively ignore all online activity, and refresh!
Here’s to Year 2!