Going Full Time Month 18

In November of 2018, I left my full time job to pursue photography full time. Every month since then, I’ve blogged what I learned from the previous month. This is month 18.

I asked my mom how old I was and while she didn’t remember, she did say, “Little enough that your feet didn’t reach the edge of the car seat.”

We had just dropped my brother off at school. Wanting to be like him, my mom bought me a lunch box too even though I was still a bit off from attending. Do you remember lunch boxes in the 80’s? Those plastic boxes with a little handle and clasp and inside, a thermos topped with a cap that could be used as a tiny cup?

I sat next to my mom in the passenger seat (The 80’s, remember?), feet resting at the edge and I opened my thermos and started pouring into the little cap. I drank, poured, drank, poured, and I remember my mom looked over at me and started, seeing me in such a precarious situation. She didn’t say anything but continued to glance my way every few seconds. “I was going to stop you but you were almost done anyway so I figured I wouldn’t interfere.” I don’t blame her. This was the age where I was notorious for dropping eggs at the grocery store while trying to help put them in the cart.

The truth is, I remember that car ride very clearly. I remember knowing I wanted to use my little thermos and knowing my mom couldn’t help me because she was driving. I remember trying to decide if I could do it myself. I remember doubt and memories of cracked eggs on the ground from just days before… and days before that. Then I remember deciding, “You can do this, but only if you believe you can enough to hold steady. If you believe you can’t, then your hand will shake and you’ll spill.”

Sometime in my twenties, I saw the quote by Henry Ford that said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

And it made no sense to me.

Surely there’s more to it than belief? Surely there are people out there who really believed they could and then couldn’t…or didn’t.

I often struggle with accepting inspirational quotes. I see them and immediately my brain goes to work trying to think of all the situations where it doesn’t fit.

But then one April night in 2020, I’m pouring olive oil into the tiniest of bottles, preparing a gift for the next day and Raffi comes into the kitchen and sees me, hands at eye level, pouring what really should require a funnel and says “Yikes, you got that?” And I reply “Yeah, I got it.” And the memory of a thermos and feet that don’t dangle off the edge of the seat flash back and it clicks.

“You can do this, but only if you believe you can enough to hold steady. If you believe you can’t, then your hand will shake and you’ll spill.”

What do you need to believe and do in order for you to reach your goal? What is that thing will trip you up and lead to defeat? Because the truth is that no one is guaranteed success. Even the people online that seem to ooze victory at every turn. Everyone is capable of failing, of spilling all over the car seat. Belief doesn’t guarantee you success, but it is step one.

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

Thanks to Nikolai Chernichenko, Clarissa Carbungo, and Jakub Kapusnak via Unsplash for the gorgeous images.