What is it going to feel like when you’ve achieved it?
The question is not "Can I succeed", the question is not even "How can I succeed?".
Because you already know what it takes. Everything.
Time, passion, money, effort, sacrifice, talent, skill, luck, resources, networking, late nights, early mornings, coffee, tears, sweat, Perrier, more time, more money, more passion, more talent and more skill. On repeat every day. Every single day.
And you already know you will do what it takes. All of it.
And you can do all of it, seriously. So, that’s not even the question.
The question is “Do I even want to get to the top?”
Because after all that, you better damn well love how it feels to be on top. You better think to yourself “YES. This is what I have worked for, dreamed of, cried about and slaved over, THIS is worth it.” You better sit back and give yourself and all your people high fives every day being like “Can you believe we did this? That we are here?” And reaching the goal better feel just as good as the journey.
Because sometimes being on top isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a professional dancer. And I was well on my way. And I loved it! I love how it felt to be on stage and to sweat and to get the crowd riled up, and honestly I liked how it felt to feel cool. And then when I wanted to take it seriously, when I wanted to be a successful dancer, I stopped dead in my tracks.
Success as a dancer didn’t sound great to me. It’s hard. It’s a lot of late nights, a lot of people you don’t know, a lot of travelling, being surrounded with a lot of drugs and alcohol. It meant people questioning my reputation, my values, and it also meant that my knees would hurt a lot. And it also came with a lot of haters.
I did not like how it felt to be successful as a dancer.
To me, it wasn’t worth it.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a speech therapist. And I was well on my way! And I loved it. I was getting my second degree in speech pathology, I felt like I was very knowledgeable and I LOVED working with children and making their every day lives bearable, purposeful, and even awesome. And then when I wanted to take it seriously, when I wanted to be an actual speech pathologist, I stopped dead in my tracks.
Being a speech pathologist takes several years of school, grad school, more student loans, working a 9-5, or working part time (neither options sound great to me), dealing with children and parents, heartbreak and frustration, moving away to go to these schools, and did I mention more student loans?
I did not like how much I would have to sacrifice to be a speech pathologist.
To me, it wasn’t worth it.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a professional photographer. And I was well on my way. And I loved it! I love how it felt to make people feel seriously beautiful, to transform an ordinary moment into a permanent pound of happiness, to summarize a night or an event or a time of life into something to oohh and ahh over for as long as you wanted, I loved learning and meeting new people and making them smile and being known for something that made me proud. And then I wanted to take it seriously, when I wanted to be a successful photographer, I never stopped.
Success as a photographer takes years of practice, equipment investment, a lot of putting yourself out there, it takes the confidence to go head to head with someone else’s self esteem issues and drag them through the dirt to the other side. Sometimes that can be a nasty fight. It comes with a lot of criticism, a lot of competition, a lot of opinions, it requires the patience to deal with all kinds of personalities during the biggest days or times of people’s lives, with extreme pressure and expectations, with an unlimited and utterly overwhelming amount of possibilities.
I love what it feels like to be a professional photographer.
To me, it is worth it.
Not that I’m at the top, by any means, but right now, I am kicking back telling myself “YES. This is what I have worked for, dreamed of, cried about and slaved over, THIS is worth it.”
And when my magazine came out last month, I sat back and gave myself and my people high fives saying “Can you believe we did this? That we are here?” And reaching the goal felt just as good as the journey.
This is the life I’ve worked so hard for.
You don’t have to wait to reach the top before you can imagine what it feels like to be there. The question is not can I get there? It’s will I love being there? Don’t go blindly into a dream because you just like doing something.
I want you to ask yourself “Why am I doing this? Why am I working so hard?” Because you are going to put everything into this dream, I know you are, and I want you to feel so confident you’re going to succeed that you can taste it. Yum. And with that delicious confidence I want you to know exactly what you’re working for.
I want you to be picture being the best flute player, athlete, fashion blogger, artist, personal trainer, hair dresser, dog walker in the world. What does that look like? Is that the life you want? Does it allow you the time, freedom, travel, flexibility, money, life satisfaction that you want? What are you sacrificing to get there? What are you gaining? Who will you be spending your time with? Do you like them? What do you have to wear? Where do you have to go? What kind of schooling, training, education do you need? Where will you be living? How will you be feeling?
Knowing what that looks like, loving it, working for it, dreaming of it, that is what will get you to the top.
There are dreams that are worth it.
I still love dancing, I still love working with children, but achieving those dreams would’ve ended up crushing my other dreams (of health, family, flexibility, being a photographer and living in SLO). And that wasn’t worth it to me.
I had to choose.
When I say your dreams take sacrifice, I mean that achieving your dream sometimes mean you have to sacrifice other dreams.
If you have one dream to reach, I want it to be the one that feels the best. Delicious and incredible and fulfilling and good.
And the best part is, you get to choose the dream.
This is my dream. What’s yours?
And what will it feel like to reach it?
Because you’re going to reach it. And it’s going to be worth it.
P.s. These photos were taken in March while I was teaching a private photography lesson with Julia, before I was blonde and during the peak of flower season! Melissa Jean took all these fabulous behind the scenes photos and has been an amazing photography friend who makes this dream I'm living that much more worth it.