I had a plan for my life, and photography and working for myself wasn't a part of it for a LONG time. When I graduated high school, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to go to school for graphic design and web design. I had this grand plan that I had made for myself: I'd graduate, get a job at a magazine or marketing agency and work in the corporate world. Nothing sounded better to me - getting to use my degree and my chosen career path to help businesses build better ways of connecting with their target customer?! Totally right up my alley!
Right after I started college, I began photographing people - portraits, weddings, families - and fell in love. I found myself answering business emails during class, editing during lectures, and putting literally ALL of my free time into hustling hard towards something I wasn't even going to college for.
By the time I graduated college, my business had gone from a side hobby to an (almost) full-time time commitment that was bringing in a decent chunk of change. Even after I graduated college, I still couldn't believe people were actually paying me to take their photo. It felt too surreal to actually get paid to do something I loved so much! But to be honest - I had never thought that photography was something I could actually do full time. I kind of thought that photography would remain a side hobby, or a way to make a little extra money alongside my "career" as a graphic & web designer. But goodness... was I wrong!!
After graduating college, I landed a part time job as a graphic, web, & digital designer for a small start up company right outside of Pittsburgh. Why part time, you might be wondering? Because I was literally putting SO many hours into my business that, at this point, it was basically like having a full time job. In some ways, I felt caught between two passions. On one hand, I LOVED graphic and web design. I had fallen in love with it during my college years and could fully see myself working as a graphic artist. But on the other hand - I loved photography so stinking much, and I finally recognized that this business had grown to a place where it could potentially turn into a way to support my husband and I.
I worked at the start up company for almost two years before I realized that there was no way in heck I could manage both anymore. I was working SO MANY hours every single week with barely any time for friends, family, or even my husband. Sad to move on, but excited to see what photography could turn into, I put in my two weeks at the agency and started making the transition to working for myself full time. And you know what's amazing? That's not something that I would've ever been able to do in my own strength, and it wasn't even something I had envisioned for myself. God's hand was all over those decisions, leading and guiding every single step of the way. And if I hadn't been following his leading, I probably would've missed out on all of the gifts and benefits that have come with working for myself. Sure, like anything, being self employed has its challenges, but when God is at the forefront driving the ship, I am free to live in the knowledge and peace that it's HIM who is leading me every step of the way.
So now, to the high school senior, trying to decide what to do: make the best choice you can when you're trying to figure out what to do with your life. Be responsible. Find where your passion intersects with where you can make money, and go there. But know that that decision can change - anything can change! I thought I had a good plan, but God had a better one, and I'm sure He will keep leading me in different directions that I never ever could have planned for myself.
As a friend once said, "choosing which college you'll attend is not the most important decision you'll ever make in your life." And, really, you know what's way MORE important? Choosing to love people. Being kind. Serving others. Making the conscious decision to do THOSE things every single day are some of the MOST important decisions you will ever make. Your career might change, but a kind, generous, loving heart will stick with you wherever you go. People matter so much more than work. They matter more than any career or job you might pursue. And as you start pursuing those things - remember to make time for people.