These are roads I’ve never walked before. I feel like I keep stopping to look around and ask myself “Is this the right way? You’re not too far, you can turn back. Is this normal? Are you staying true to yourself? Are you walking a path that’s going to lead you to fulfillment and happiness and serve others on the way?”
It’s a lonely road, there aren’t many people here, and I’m learning why. In the meantime, I am depending on my own self and my own knowledge to lead the way. And it feels incredibly dangerous.
Yesterday I was reading my notes from Showit United, a photography conference here in Arizona and circled ten times, written in all caps was a line from Ben Hartley’s keynote that said:
Most meaningful things are dangerous.
I remember sitting in the audience in complete awe that someone could stand up on a stage in front of 400 of their peers and shed their skin. To stand there and say “Here’s where I fall short. Here’s my ugly truth. Here are the things I hate most about myself.” That IS dangerous! He had no safeguard, no guarantee people wouldn’t respond poorly … but it was meaningful. Because it’s what’s going to get me through to month six.
In month one, I learned that everything is a trade off
Month two I learned I am more than what I thought I was
Month three I learned that my legs are sore
Month four I learned that it’s 100 little things
And month five, I learned the importance of having a strong Why.
Have we all hopped on that bandwagon yet?
About ten years ago, Simon Sinek gave a Ted Talk that became one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time. He outlined the importance of defining your “Why.” Why do you do what you do? What’s the underlying purpose? That when you’re building a business, potential customers and followers won’t buy into what you do, rather they will buy why you do it. That making your beliefs known and acting in a way that reflects those beliefs is what truly builds a lasting brand.
So you create a Why and people tell you “You’re going to need a strong WHY statement for those times when you face adversity in your business. It is what will keep you going.” And you think “Yeah, okay, cool” and then one day, maybe, I don’t know, in month five, it all makes sense.
Because this IS dangerous. When you decide to be a full time artist, you understand the term “Starving Artist” didn’t stem from nothing. You understand you will be putting a piece of your heart, your blood, your sweat, your tears, and your creative soul out there for judgment. You accept not everyone will love you. And sometimes, you learn that people might even believe the worst of you.
On this road, I’ve felt scrutinized, misunderstood, and judged. I’ve also felt accepted, loved and appreciated. But somehow, those negative experiences carry more weight and are brought to the forefront of my mind…. somehow they cast a shadow on the good, even if they are outnumbered 100 to 1. So I pause, I look around the road I’m on and I think “Is this the right way? You’re not too far, you can turn back. Is this normal? Are you staying true to yourself? Are you walking a path that’s going to lead you to fulfillment and happiness and serve others along the way?”
As if it were a lifeline, I ripped through my box of half written journals and notebooks in search of my Why statement. I wanted to see it, written in my own handwriting from a time that my feet were firmly planted.
“To create beautiful windows into the past to as proof of all the love that exists in the world.
To give to people something I don’t have and desperately want.
I believe photos are one of the few things we ever own that can achieve a priceless status.
I believe every love story deserves to be told.”
So when I pause on this road, when I look around, when I doubt, when I wonder if the people who think the worst of me are right, I can read this statement. And if it’s still true for me, I keep going.
Having said all that, you will definitely see me for month six!
|Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris|
Hey. Do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one of you. And there will never be another.