This weekend marked a big milestone for us: we had our work published in the newspaper for the very first time. The Guardian newspaper in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island did a feature on our documentary project, Lobster Island. My parents, who live on the Island, bought 10 copies of the paper, giving them out to family. They shared the big news with their friends. They’ve been talking up our book to everyone they meet. I think they’re pretty proud right now.
But 8 years ago when I first told them I was going to become a photographer they weren’t quite so enthusiastic. In fact, they were downright unhappy about the idea.
I can see why they felt that way. I had been going to University with the plan of becoming a lawyer – a respectable profession that would ensure stability. I had never expressed any interest in photography, and then all of a sudden, after spending a month in Europe with my new boyfriend (that was Rob, by the way), I had these crazy dreams of becoming a pro. I think most parents would be a little bit concerned.
Luckily I had Rob. He shared my dream, and we believed in it together. Despite my parents misgivings I forged ahead. With only a year left until I finished my degree I stayed in school, but all the while I spent every spare moment learning photography, and planning how to start our business. The summer that I marched across the stage to accept my degree we shot 30 weddings. I walked out of University a full-time professional photographer (with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology that I’ll probably never use!).
But I know there are a lot of you out there that don’t have a partner who shares your dream, to get you through the tough work that comes with pursuing your passion. And even worse, you may have loved ones around you who try to dissuade you from living your dream. They tell you to be practical. To be reasonable. That photography (or whatever you want to do) is just a hobby, not a job. There’s no money in it. You can just do it for fun, while having a “real” career to support you.
After a while those suggestions start to sound good. It’s easier to just go with the flow than to fight and struggle to make your dream job a reality, right?
So what should you do?
Ask yourself one question: Does this passion of mine light a fire in me? Does it fill me with energy and excitement and a sense of purpose? If I were to picture my absolute dream job, is this it?
If you answered yes, then do it. Make it happen. Don’t worry about the people who don’t believe. Chances are they’re just worried about you. But they don’t feel your energy and your drive. They don’t understand how much passion you have. It’s that passion and that energy that will help you succeed. If you have it, you won’t give up until you get where you want to be. Don’t fault them for not understanding. They’ll understand one day, when they see you make it.
Now, I know there will be moments when you wonder if you really do have what it takes to succeed. I know that because I have them all the time. This stuff is hard work. Thankfully I have someone to turn to in those moments who can reassure me that we’ll get there, one step at a time.
So if you don’t have that person, listen to me right now: You will get there. One step at a time. When no one else believes in your dream, know that I do. Passionate people can make anything happen.
Now go and get to work. Make your dream your reality. BAM!
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Howard Thurman