Please don't hold any grammatical errors against me - I am a Photographer, not a Writer! :)
As I sit here writing this post I can't help but think back to where I was almost three years ago; mentally, physically and creatively. Three years ago it took every bit of strength to have the energy to get myself out of bed and face the day. Not because I had a difficult life; I wasn't struggling with depression, I wasn't physically ill and I wasn't unemployed and any more financially strapped than the average university graduate! This made it worse. I felt selfish for feeling sorry for myself when really, I had it good. I have a husband who I can actually say is my best friend (cliche, I know), an amazing family who has always supported everything I do and a job that can be stressful but is mostly a lot of fun (although I didn't feel that way at the time). How dare I feel like something was missing! Well, I felt like something wasn't right. I felt like I was just getting through life. I remember many nights laying awake, feeling sick to my stomach because I just felt like I had no passion. I can recall actually saying that out loud to my hubby (Kyle) and my mom. I was watching people around me doing what they loved. My husband is so passionate about his music and my coworkers are so passionate about teaching (I am also a substitute teacher). My friends would ask me to hang out after work and I wanted to, I really I did, but I found myself constantly “busy”, when really I didn't have the energy to go out and socialize. I was starting to be a complainer. A grump. Someone I didn't want to be and someone others wouldn't want to be around. This wasn't me.
I knew that I wasn't doing what I was meant to do. Every time I would try to get ahead in my career I would hit walls. Everything seemed so easy for others in my profession (which it wasn't) but in realty, I just didn't have the drive to get the job I wanted. Even when I would apply for jobs I would secretly have a feeling of anxiety and fear when I imagined getting a call offering me that job. I didn't really want it, but I felt like I should because I had gone to school for it, spent a lot of (my parents) money and didn't want to disappoint others or myself. Filled with intense anxiety about staying where I was but with no idea where I was headed, I decided to make a change.
I googled “what to do if you don't want to teach” and found a bunch of related careers that still didn't excite me. I went on Career Beacon and started applying for a bunch of jobs that I A) wasn't qualified for and B) had no interest in doing. I started getting frustrated with myself and then I stumbled across a job listed for “Career Counsellor”. I didn't want to do that either but I thought that maybe they could help me. I found a local one, went for a meeting and quickly found out that a lot of people feel like this about their careers at some point. Some keep going and eventually find their stride and overcome those feelings. Others end up hating their jobs their whole life and count down the days to retirement. I knew in my heart I wasn't the first option and I really, really didn't want to be the latter. So, I took a million personality and aptitude tests and went for my second meeting. I was so afraid that after all of that, the number one job recommendation for me would be - teacher. Then I would be really stuck! Well, it wasn't. The career counsellor told me flat out - “no wonder you are unhappy, teaching is at the very bottom of the least enjoyable job for your personality type”. As hard as that was to hear, it was a relief. I wasn't crazy, I wasn't just being difficult. Maybe at one point it was what I was meant to do. I truly believe it was not a waste as I made a lot of close friends and even met my husband in the teaching program. I wouldn't have the ability to talk in front of people or give direction which is needed for the photography field. It just wasn't right for me. It wasn't right for more than half of the people in my Education program either (most of them are now in completely unrelated fields). I could now accept that, move on and find what I really was meant to do. Scary, I know...but also exciting.
What were the top careers on that list?
Well. I actually laughed when I saw that list. I have always loved art and always been told there was never any money in it nor any career prospects. Really, that was silly, especially because my sister is a successful wedding photographer in Northern Ontario (Shannon Lepere Photography) – check out her work, she is amazing! I always loved looking through pictures and taking them (although they were pretty horrible ones). I didn't really do anything with it for a while. I just kind of laughed at how I could never do that. I didn't go to school for that, I didn't have talent, I couldn't possibly do it (you know, all those horrible things you say and think about yourself that you would never say or think about anyone else). So at a snail's pace, I slowly started fiddling around with my little Canon point-and-shoot and then borrowed a Canon 5D that had been handed down from my sister, to my dad, to me. It was past its prime and not easy to work with; but it was fun! I was still scared to take the leap. Then, one day I was scrolling through social media out of boredom and someone had posted a video from a recent commencement ceremony in the United States. Jim Carrey (one of my favourites) had given a speech about following your dreams. I watched it, cried like a baby (like I always do) and I felt a fire inside of me like I hadn't felt in years. One line that he said really got to me and I still remember it; “You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love”. Three years later, I still watch this video to reignite that fire again.
After that fire was lit, I decided to sign up for a beginner's course. After the first lesson, I was hooked. There was so much more to this photography thing than I had thought and I loved everything about it. I started bringing that camera everywhere and practicing what I had been taught from the lessons. Were my pictures great? Nope. I had no idea what shutter speed, ISO or aperture meant, my editing was amazing (insert sarcastic comment) with the saturation bar pulled all the way to the top and I'm pretty sure any photo that was not a total blur was just a fluke, but, you know what? I was so damn proud of my crappy pictures because it was something I made.
An already long story, I will fast forward through the many courses and all of the learning (which I still have so much to learn) and tell you that the first wedding I photographed was the most frightening, exhausting, sweaty, exhilarating, amazing, fun experience that I have ever had. I honestly can say that I have found my passion. Do I want to take photos all day every day? No. Sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I want to just sit on my hammock and take a nap. I still teach sometimes too (I enjoy it a lot more now because I have found my passion). Everything about photography has me hooked and I truly love every second of it. Not everyone knows what they are passionate about from birth. Others are like me and it takes some trial and error to find it. I didn't fail at what I didn't want because I don't think you fail unless you give up. I did however, decide that I am going to take a chance on what I do love. Now I can't wait to get up each day and live this life, because this is the one I want. This is the one I was meant to have. This is the one that I will continue to fight for.