A follow up to the article on FStoppers

Let me start by saying that I by no means feel deserving of the life I’m living, or the people in it.

I moved to Utah to leave behind a lot of bad memories, and to build new. I have had so many hobbies and passions in my life that have consumed me, they were “security blankets” things I could get lost in, to keep myself busy, my excuse to become introverted. But I always, always became obsessed and the introverted security gave way to insecurity and drive to be “the best”. Now that, being “the best” means different things to different people and to me it meant exploiting my own drive and will and every part of me to reach my own ceiling, my limit. Testing myself I guess, but in return it changed me, molded me into someone that thrives on singularity with the Achilles heel of loneliness. It caused me to push all of my life long friends away, and strain relationships with people I loved. It took me until I was in my mid 20’s to really realize this pattern of behavior, the trend that was taking me a direction I didn’t want to go, that requires daily self monitoring to keep at bay.

I found photography after struggling for years and years with obesity, and beating it, even if I still battle. The notion of starting and growing a real business based around a passion that I thought I’d inevitably leave behind kept me from really trying for a little while, but my drive to succeed pushed me more and more into working toward it. That, plus the unrelenting stress and depression of a day job, I began finding little successes, people wanted to follow me, learn from me, and befriend me. It very quickly became apparent that I could really make a go of it, that I could leave my day job, and focus on providing quality, legitimate instruction to people that genuinely support what I do and want to learn what I’ve worked so hard to learn and teach myself.

I’ll reiterate that I still do not feel deserving of the word success, like “I suck, why do people want to learn from me?” But I’m happy that there are those out there that do, and that my past students and clients appreciate and found value in what I have to offer.

I hear loads and loads of stories about workshops and instructors that may have forgotten their own values or reasons for doing this, and I just hope that I never lose sight of what and why I’m doing all of this. Firstly, to help others, secondly to help myself enjoy this passion for the rest of my life, and thirdly to support myself and family in a life full of adventure and meaningfulness. To quote a well known photographer, adventurer, and educator:

“Think about who workshop leaders tend to be…people who have devoted their lives to spending time outdoors to photograph special places and to share their knowledge with likeminded people.”~ Erin Babnik

This notion resonated within me so deeply, because it’s true or at least this is how it should be, not to make a fortune but to change lives through inspiration and transfer of knowledge.

The idea of success should only be measured by yourself, no one can tell you what success should look like for you, success is much like art in that it’s subjective, this idea is what holds sooooooo many people back from pursuing a dream, or goal. Sure, security in a day job is great, but when it’s all said and done, when you’re lying in your grave and reflecting on your empire will you be happy to say “sure I broke my back for pennies in a job I hate, or I made a billion dollars and have no one to share it with”? I want to lie in my grave and smile knowing that I lived my life beyond the ideals of success and that I left an impact. I left my mark, my legacy and if it made just one person strive to be their ideal of success than I have been successful.

FStoppers recently interviewed me about my journey, my work and my successful beginnings, but I was a little awe struck by the title they chose because I don’t really consider myself successful, yet anyway. I strive every single day to be successful but I don’t feel I’ve had enough of an impact on myself or touched others enough to be successful, but again that’s one of my ideals of success.

In short, please don’t ever sell yourself short, settle for less than you’re worth, or let others define success for you. Be happy, no matter what you’re doing, to be cliché, life is too short to not be happy. At this point I’d prefer to be homeless, with my little lady and our dogs and cat than be confined by walls, rules and someone else’s ideal of success.

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