The Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done
As a retired athlete, I’ve done lots of scary things. Backflips on a four inch balance beam, being tossed into the air to do a flip and some spins by other girls my age, and my personal favorite, jumping off a diving bird, doing a double reverse flip only to land back onto the board and belly flop off it right into the water. My mom held her breath watching that one. Besides all the near death experiences I had as a gymnast, competitive cheerleader, and diver, the scariest thing I’ve ever done is quit my steady job to start my own business.
In 2012, I was busier than ever. I had four jobs. Yes four. I was a joy to be around… ask my now husband. I had been teaching yoga for over a year and taught a few classes a week for small wage, I was interning at a photo studio two days a week for free, shooting 5 weddings a year and doing portrait shoots, and finally, serving at a fine dining restaurant to support all my endeavors.
I loved working at this restaurant, everyone was so sweet and the money I made was ridiculous. I worked four shifts a week and build the rest of my schedule around it. For a while, things were working. I was exhausted, tired, but still driven to one day follow my dream of being a “real wedding photographer” (I’m still trying to figure out what that means) but as things started to pick up at the yoga studio and in my photography career, the balance was unmanageable.
I was crying every day in my car. I was only eating at the restaurant (fries, bread, and ranch, my body looked gooood—lol), barely slept, and was so stressed that there were moments that I would black out and come to crying in the bathroom at my work or wherever I was. My husband was concerned, my family was confused, and I hadn’t seen friends in months. I knew something would have to change, and after waiting around for what felt like years, it was time to do something about it.
In March, I approached a wedding photographer and asked for help. I needed to find a way to get myself out there and gain experience. Luckily, this photographer had connections and linked me into a group of photographers who were in need of second shooters. I met with my soon to be mentor, Anna Botz, for coffee and she brought me on for a handful of her weddings for the next year.
I approached the yoga studio I was teaching at and asked for a raise. They said they I had a few more months until the 6 month raise mark but they had a few classes open that I could take on. I took them.
I ran some numbers at home and it was scary. I was going to be scraping by, but I knew that if I could pay off my car loan in the next month and saved as much money as I could, I would be able to make the shift in May, right before wedding season and just cross my fingers and toes that more work would come from me having more time to market my own business.
I had a plan but I was afraid. What if I failed? What if I lost my house because I couldn’t pay the mortgage? What if I sucked at being a wedding photographer and everything I had worked so hard for was all in vain? These questions created so much fear that I chickened out several times giving my two weeks notice at the restaurant. I tried to give the notice for about a month, the timing was never right, so one day, I came in, marched right into the office into his meeting (sorry Scott) and just let it out in front of everyone then ran back out and started my shift. After the shift, my amazing boss took me aside and we talked all about it. He was so kind and told me that I would always have a place there and with his blessing, I knew it was meant to be.
My last day as a server was a tough one. It was scary to think there was no more cash coming in and my only “steady” income was coming from teaching yoga classes, but the ball was rolling and there was no looking back.
I’m so grateful that I made this jump. It wasn’t easy, and I struggled to make ends meat for years, but now I’m finally getting to a point (6 years later) where I know things are going to work out.
There are months where the fear comes back- especially when I don’t know where my next booking is coming from, but I won’t look back. Fear is so raw and real. It held me back from living my life for years. It prevented me from believing in myself, and despite the mistakes and flaws that are me, I am confident that I will succeed in anything I put my efforts into.
So there you have it, the scariest thing I’ve ever done is leaving my job. If you are feeling this same thing in your life, please reach out to me! I’ve been there and would love to offer my ears or advice. Don’t let fear hold you back from being you and following your dreams.