Do Something Scary. It Will Be Awesome.

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Today we move into an apartment in Buenos Aires. We’ll be here for a month.

And we’re scared.

We don’t speak Spanish, and have met very few English speakers. Sometimes we have to communicate with hand signals. I bet we look really smooth.

And Buenos Aires is huge. Like 13 million people huge. That’s more than 10X bigger than Edmonton, where we are from. Plus the apartment we’ve rented is in the busiest area you could imagine. It’s been likened to Times Square. At home we live in a super quiet suburb with lots of bunnies.

We’re so far outside our comfort zone it’s ridiculous.

When we tell people that we travel the way we do, I think they figure we’re fearless. I want you to know that we are anything but.

We have the exact same worries you do. The same fears. The same constant “what if” thoughts racing through our mind. We have sleepless nights, and rough days, and tears. We have moments where we consider giving it all up for something “safe”.

The only reason we do what we do is because we’ve learned that when we push past that fear, awesome things happen.

Photography Is Scary

Look. Becoming a photographer is scary. I know it, and you know it. If you’re a hobbyist, making a statement like “I’m a photographer” to your friends can be absolutely terrifying. Will they laugh? Will you fail and then everyone will know?

And pros, you know all about scary. I mean, trying to make a comfortable living in a down economy by taking photos in an increasingly competitive field? We all must be crazy. Or just constantly scared.

And maybe we are constantly scared. But we all just do it anyway.

Why do we put up with the uncertainty, the difficulties, the fear? Because we know that the rewards are awesome beyond anything you could imagine when you’re standing on the other side.

Do Something Scary

So, what is all this about? Well, what I am suggesting is that we can’t stop doing scary things once we’ve settled in. It’s easy to get comfy, and not want to push anymore. You have your camera and you take pretty shots. You have your business and you make pretty money.

Don’t stop there.

Push yourself. Do something that really scares you. Get way outside of your comfort zone. This is where great things will happen for you creatively.

We’ve only been here for two days, and already the ideas are flowing. Our minds feel like they’ve woken up, and we’re chomping at the bit to do more. See more. Shoot more. Read more. Think more.

When you do something scary you will learn like you’ve never learned before. If you succeed, you’ll learn. If you fail, you’ll learn. But most of all, simply by doing that something scary, you’ll learn just how strong you are.

Human beings are nothing if not incredibly adaptable. They can live in almost any environment, solve almost any problem, and experience life in an infinite variety of ways.

You really can do anything you want. You simply need the courage to start trying.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it. – Mark Twain

Some Scary Things To Do

What are some scary things that could help you open your mind creatively, and push yourself, your photography, and your business forward? Here are a few suggestions!

Travel

Nothing opens your mind like traveling. I like to think of it as “Life Concentrate”. More happens to you in a shorter period of time, and that’s awesome! It’s not a walk in the park—traveling can be very challenging. But it’s always inspiring.

Is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Start planning. Now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Sit down and say “I want to go to here, what is the first step I can take to do that?”. And then do it.

Seriously. Sometimes you just have to buy the tickets, and figure it out from there. But I promise you can do it. I’m one of the most anxious folks you’ll ever meet, and I manage it. You can too.

Shoot

Shoot something that you’re scared to shoot. Maybe it’s a person you’ve always wanted to take portraits of. Or maybe it’s a genre that you’ve always been interested in, but never thought you could do.

Call someone. Email someone. Rent some gear. Set it up. You will never know how great you could be at it until you start trying.

N.B. If this relates to a once in a lifetime event, like a wedding, that’s not a good time to just try something new. Weddings are a big deal, and you need practice before you take on that responsibility. But if weddings are your scary thing that you want to try, ask to assist a pro. Work your way up to shooting solo. You owe that to the bride and groom.

Connect

Is there someone out there that you’ve always wanted to talk to, but were too scared? Here’s the solution. Talk to them!!

Send a tweet, an email, a Facebook message, whatever. Tell that person that you dig what they do. Start making that connection now and who knows, maybe one day you will get to sit down and have a chat with them!

P.S. Don’t fire off an email filled with 50 questions for them. People are busy, and the best way to connect with them is to respect their time. But don’t be afraid to let them know that they have inspired you. I’ll tell you straight up that it was those sorts of emails that kept us working through our toughest moments. They truly mean the world.

Work At Your Passion

Imagine this. Tomorrow you pack up your desk, leave your job, and venture off to try to make a living doing only what you love most in the world.

Terrifying? Yep. Rewarding? Absolutely.

Now, I don’t think that’s exactly the right way to go about it. You have to be smart, plan your attack, and pull the trigger at the right moment. But, even though it’s scary, this could be one of the best things you ever do for yourself.

Think about this. There are about 7 billion people in the world. How many different ways do you think people are making a living? Probably 6 billion. Certainly far more than you could ever imagine. Don’t count out anything. There are ways to succeed no matter what your passion!

If this is something that is piquing your interest, read Crush It, by Gary Vaynerchuck. You’ll be pumped.

Learn

One of the biggest things that holds people back is simple lack of knowledge. They seem to be resigned to not having the brain skills needed to move forward. And they just accept it.

What????? Craziness! You can learn anything you want. ANYTHING. And with that knowledge you can then do anything you want.

Quick. What is something that you don’t know much about, and wish you knew more? Get on it! Now! You can learn so much more, so much easier, than has ever been possible.

A great way to learn something new is to start with the Wikipedia entry. Get a feel for the big ideas of the topic. Then find out what books are considered to be foundational for the subject. Read those. Then find yourself a forum, and start interacting, and learning how to learn more.

Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Pounce on it!

Be Honest About Your Weaknesses

And finally this. Perhaps the most scary and difficult of all. You need to be honest about where you stand. And that means you need to take a good, hard look at your weaknesses.

We all have them. It’s nothing to be ashamed off. Seriously. Look at my face, look how serious I’m being right now. You do not need to feel bad about having weaknesses.

Here’s the caveat. You need to identify them, and commit yourself to improving on them. Tackle them one at a time. Don’t be afraid. You CAN get better at anything. With some learning, practicing, and simple doing, you can become great at anything you want.

It’s truly scary to point out your flaws. It feels like admitting that you could fail. It is a whole lot easier to just ignore them, sweep them under the rug, and pretend they aren’t there.

Don’t do that. They’ll just get more and more powerful, and one day they’ll actually will lead to failure. Deal with them head on. The sooner you do it, the easier they’ll be to overcome, and they’ll loose all their scariness!

What are you weak at? What’s the first thing you can do to start improving on it today? Go do that.

Let’s Do It

So, we’re jumping into this month in Buenos Aires, ready to take on the challenges it will present. We’re scared, and crazy excited at the same time.

Now it’s your turn. Think of something that scares you. Take it on, right now. There’s no better time than the present. I hope you’re excited!

Sharing Circle Time! What are you going to do? Share it here, and make it a reality!! That’s a great way to motivate yourself to really do it!!

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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Comments

23 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. A few things I'm scared of:
    – selling albums (don't think I can do it)
    – traveling overseas (expensive/scary/with kids?!?!?)
    – learning CSS/web design (though it used to be my background)
    – camping with small children (chaos!!!)

    What I'm doing:
    – pre-designing albums for all my clients this year (will it pay off)
    – haven't conquered that one yet
    – taking online training in CSS
    – scheduled a camping trip with the kids

  2. This is way more than photography advice; this is LIFE advice! And though it's easier said than done, you guys ARE doing it, and that's hugely encouraging. My fear of the day: traveling alone. But life's too short to wait for other people to tag along, so I'm going to do it! Mental preparation begins today!

    • Steph, You and I are so on the same page! I have been asked twice in the last year to travel to HK and turned it down. Today I was asked to go to Europe, again unaccompanied. I used to love to travel, I don’t know what happened to me, lately a fear has taken over me to go anywhere alone. The post is a huge encouragement and I take comfort in knowing others are on the same page, I to can do this!

      • So glad this post helped you, Debi. You absolutely can do it! Travelling is scary for me too, but after jumping in it’s always so rewarding!

    • I love to travel but like you going alone can be scary. I don’t want to wait for someone else to be able to go. I have a taken a few road trips by myself and loved it. The solitude lets me focus more on my photos. When I am with other people I feel more rushed. I want to take a photo class trip this year but again the fear of going it alone sets in. Will have to just pick one and do it.

  3. Glad to see you're out traveling once again! And I'm sure you'll enjoy your stay. We've rented condos for a few weeks to a month for the last two years we travelled overseas and LOVED it. It gave us more time to get to learn about the country and area we were visiting, more time to get to know the wonderful people and interact with them – whether that be shopping next to them in their grocery store or market, sitting beside them in the park, sitting in a street cafe and sharing a laugh with them (even if we didn't always understand a word they said!) – it has always been so worth it. We look forward to our next adventure in nine months. WIll rent a condo once again – well worth it if one has the time. Enjoy Buenos Aires!

  4. Steph, agreed. Travelling alone scares the heck out of me. I can't imagine being able to do it! I suppose that's just the attitude to flip upside down :)

  5. *@Jocelyn:* First off, thank you so much for sharing! I was so happy to see a comment from you! Second, you absolutely can, _and should_, sell albums! You are such a natural storyteller, albums will be incredible for your clients!!

    As for travel, not too expensive (we fly completely on points!), not too scary, but I can't comment on doing it with kids, lol! Camping will be a fantastic introduction though!! That's awesome!

    And I love that you're learning CSS! Where are you doing your training? I'd love to learn more!

    *@Steph;* Life is indeed too short. I think Paris is waiting for you!

    *@Vi:* Though we've only been in the apartment for an evening, we're already loving it! Can't wait to get out and explore _our_ area! Where are you two off to next time??

    *@Malithi:* Agreed! I see so many solo girls travelling!! Every day here in BA I've seen them. They look like they are having a blast!

  6. Needed this right now. Thanks, you guys are the best!

  7. Great post guys! I couldnt agree more. Traveling is such an education, and facing our fears has helped us hugely. Can't wait to hear about your time in the apartment, it sounds like it's going to be incredible.

  8. *@Chantel:* :) So happy to hear it you enjoyed it!

    *@Shauna:* Can't agree more about travel as education! You guys know that better than ever. Been loving all your posts from abroad! Slow travel is awesome, we're really enjoying it. Though we're missing that _adventure_ sense you get from really going remote. Better start planning our next trip! ;)

  9. Thank you for this post. For the last few years I have been trying to figure out how to make something like this happen but have been intimidated by the fact that I had NO CLUE where to start. You and Rob are very inspiring to me, so thank you for sharing all you do :) I'm going to start doing a little more homework so *maybe* I can avoid winter next year!

  10. :) Oh Jen, you're so awesome. Trust me, it's a whole lot easier than it seems! And SUCH an amazing way to shake up your routine. Make sure to drop us a line if you have questions, super happy to help people escape winter, hehe!

  11. I literally just stumbled upon this a few hours ago, thanks to Twitter and I am just blown away by the immense amount of good advice and inspiration I am finding. This article, in particular, is the summation of the last couple of weeks for me in terms of really buckling down on my own business and taking some well needed scary risks in my personal life.

    THANK YOU! You guys rock :)

  12. Thanks so much for the kind comment Oriana! I'm so glad you enjoyed this article. We're really happy you've found our site! :)

  13. I am planing to go accros Europe on motorbike and do hiking and photography! Fingers crossed

  14. Wow JL! That will definitely be awesome (and a bit scary I'm sure!). I would love to see photos from that trip!

  15. You have deeply inspired me!

  16. That's so wonderful to hear Lizzie!! :)

  17. I'm new to the Photography world but I'm going to give it my best shot. Thanks for the push, I so want to be a good student. My learning disability has always got in the way but your words have giving me HOPE! thanks again .

  18. beautiful post! applicable to all fields of life =D

  19. You wanna talk about crazy, try living in downtown Shanghai.. 20 million people and half of them are former farmers.

  20. Super-inspiring article, thank you!!! I’ve already done one thing two years ago: quit my job to be a photographer. And now I am a photographer! I shoot events, portraits, and weddings! It’s so awesome to get this far!!
    Now my plan is to publish my first photo book.

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