I Almost Gave Up


Sitting on the floor in my cluttered living room, challenges swirling around my mind like fallen leaves, I almost threw in the towel. What was I thinking trying to manage two photography brands? I was barely making a living from the first one! What made me think I could manage two Facebook pages, two Instagram profiles, two Twitter profiles, and two business blogs (plus this one!!)? I almost gave up. I was overwhelmed. I sucked at juggling all this stuff. Maybe I was in over my head.

Or maybe I had the wrong mindset.

After taking a long walk, stoping all attempts to do anything work related for a day and a prayer said aloud (my husband Brandon was cracking up at my candor), I got an epiphany. The fog didn’t clear in my mind, but that didn’t negate the fact that my dreams and goals were still there waiting to be activated. I heard God telling me that I had been much busier than this in the past. During those times, I was thriving on all sides. The problem wasn’t that I had too much to do. The problem was that I wasn’t holding up my side of the deal.

Whenever you want to do something you’ve never done, you gotta do what you’ve never done to get there. My mind was blown!

I chatted with my brother on FaceTime as he commuted from the airport to his hotel in New Zealand and thought ‘how can I do what he’s doing?’. He’s traveling the world, creating art (music) and making a living from it. I started thinking about his journey and how he was always, always, always posting about his work or shows. Then I was reminded that he’d been doing these things for years. It wasn’t an overnight miracle.

I started scrolling on Youtube and watching those ‘back then life sucked but look at me now’ type videos and discovered similar results. These people worked their butts off, took chances and believed in themselves enough to bet their time, money and reputation to make their dreams known to others. That’s when I started to get pumped.

Is the photography industry heavily saturated? Yup, but so is just about every single industry out there. There are literally millions of people picking up cameras and taking photos of stuff or people or places and trying to make a living from it. But you know what? None of those people are me.

Now, instead of freaking out and focusing on what I don’t have, I’m looking at what’s at my fingertips. I’ve got two cameras, Adobe CC, free modes of promotion on social media, a phone and a voice. I’m a member of a bunch of communities online full of people who love giving help to those who are humble enough to ask for it. I’ve got a library card which grants me access to thousands of resources that will help me learn the skills needed to be successful for FREE!! And best of all, I serve the Lord of all creation.

Seems like Jesus eased up beside me and said ‘My word says that we’ve been given the power to get wealth. Time to plug into that power and watch as I light up your life.’

After storming the library catalogs for inspiration, (there a 10 or more books on my desk!) I’ve began reading daily. While I read, I write down the parts that I can apply to my life and start implementing whatever I can the same day. I don’t get down on myself when I miss a day or make a mistake. I just keep going, keep reading, keep learning and keep applying what I learned.

Today, my domain mapping for this blog was set to expire and I contemplated letting it go. I thought I was too busy to continue some passion project that I started in college (I originally blogged about life after undergrad!). Instead of giving up, I renewed the mapping so elleword.com would still take people to my blog, despite the fact that it hadn’t been updated in months. Then I finished reading one of my library books about blogging and made a list of the kinds I want to blog (and vlog about) in 2018. Then I waited until I couldn’t stand not expressing myself in writing, opened my laptop and let the words flow from my mind through my fingertips to this post.

I’m not going to give up. I hope you don’t either.

Have courage!
Elle

Starting from the bottom. . . Again


You know that moment when you think you have pretty decent skills in one area, only to be shown that you aren’t as skilled as you thought? Well friends, that is where I found myself last night.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m working with my brother to update my design portfolio. It has been a few years since I held a graphic design staff position so I suppose it is normal for me to be rusty. The sucky part is that I’ve gotten weaker in the area of composition and how to prioritize information. Jr asked me to do a couple of mock designs and a mood board as my first project. After reviewing my work over the phone, out of my three concepts, he said that one had a bit of promise but it still lacked in major areas. My mood board tanked too. Sheesh, I’m starting from the bottom again!

He sent me some articles to look over and asked me to re-create the mood board. My mind feels shocked and fried all at the same time. To think that my skills have sunk this far. . . That proves that if you don’t make it a point to keep up with design trends over time, you’ll get left in the dust. Two years is like 14 in the creative sector. I’ve been working wherever I can just to bring home a paycheck since 2012. Sadly, none of those jobs involved Photoshop. My brother mentioned that I should have tried honing in on my skills while I didn’t have an industry job. I know he’s right but I still got irked. It’s hard to create something without an actual design brief or someone to give you feedback on the work. When you have a day job serving coffee to snobs and borderline depressed about your life, it’s a-whole-nother ballgame.

After college, I couldn’t understand how I could do so well in school and not find work anywhere in my field. Because of my degree, it was also difficult to find minimum wage work because I was overqualified. I was unemployed for six months before finally finding a few retail/fast food/stipend jobs. The longer I worked at these places and dealt with the clientele that comes along with them, them more hopeless I felt. One night during a conversation about work with my husband I went from laughing to crying uncontrollably. I felt like a failure. The little checks that I brought home couldn’t pay any bills. People talked to me like I was an idiot all day and I was doomed to spend my 30 minute lunch breaks in a cramped inventory space. I couldn’t take it any longer. I prayed a lot during this time and my husband agreed to move us elsewhere so I could have better opportunities in the Dallas metroplex.

Being in Texas gave me courage. It took nine more months of being a barista before I landed the interview for the company that I currently work for but it was worth it. I wasn’t able to get the design job I applied for but they hired me on as a support team member. Now that I’m back in the field, I really want to get back to making art. My current position is not about creating, its about maintaining and managing. I manage the content, apply design treatments to content based on what’s already there, delete it, but I don’t create anything.

As all artists, I’ve grown restless of not creating for hire. Once I get my skills back up to par, I plan to apply for as many design spots as I can. Aside from designing again, I also want to make more income. I’m a married woman and two years away from 30 (though I look 16 most days). Needless to say, I have some goals and loans that require funds, more than I currently make. I won’t reveal my salary, but let’s just say, I can’t live on it and pay all of my bills without my husband’s income. I still feel like I haven’t reached the goal of feeling like I have much to give our family financially. However I’m grateful that one of my paychecks can now cover our rent and not just a week’s worth of groceries.

It would have been easy to get bent out of shape after having my work evaluated but the truth is that I have been much worse situations. I may not have the needed skills now, but one skill that I never let get dull is my ability to learn. I am going to put time aside to work on whatever my brother sends me, read the articles, takes notes, and fail again and again. If you stick with something long enough and work hard, progress is only a matter of time. If there is something you want to do or become in life. always remember that we all begin at the starting line, not three feet away from the finish line tape. You’re not going to be as good as you want to be in the beginning so don’t even trip. Don’t look around to see who is ahead of you. You are running in a one-woman (or man) race so focus on putting one foot in front of the other. It’s ok to fall, to feel bad or angry. It’s not ok to quit. You don’t always have to know where you are going. You just need to have the courage to take the next step.

Have courage,
Elle