I'm currently searching for a job and although I've been through this process many times before, it's completely different this time because I'm not willing to sell myself out. Before I unbox that statement, let me give you a little back story.
Since I can remember, I've been interested in photography. My grandpa worked for Kodak before before retiring to be a full-time slave to his grandchildren and my earliest memories of him mostly involve a video camera glued to his hand. It's because of him that we have these amazing recorded memories of how sassy my cousin was as a toddler and how obsessed I was with brushing her hair when she was a baby. Though they're not the most "artistic" videos with upbeat tracks and shallow depths of field, they're art in their own particular way and can never be replaced.
That's exactly the kind of art I want to make. It would be a dream to be able to capture the moments in life that are fleeting. The ones we look back on and think, "Man, I was cute." Just kidding. But really, it's in the small, mundane moments that I truly believe make life what it is and is worth documenting. Though I credit my grandpa for having this influence on me, it was actually my kumu (hula teacher) that actually pushed me to do it.
We were on our tour bus in China headed somewhere we were performing. My parents had bought me this super cool digital camera with a touch screen and the capability to draw on your photos after you take them. RIP, cool camera. I had just taken a photo of my friend's eye in the sunlight coming through the bus window and my kumu asked to see it. "This is a really good picture! You should keep shooting."
Firstly, if you know her, you know she doesn't just hand out compliments. Secondly, I was 13 and this woman had known me since I was born. And although a lot of comments she had made to me up until that point in my life had been semi-irrational and revolving around things I needed to fix with my dancing, I listened to everything she said. So from that point on, becoming a photographer was my goal.
Fast forward to post high school and first jobs in college. I did absolutely nothing along the lines of photography in these jobs. I've worked restaurants and retail and childcare. The only time I really picked up my first DSLR my parents bought as my graduation present was at church events and when I needed to get photos of the kids at the YMCA that I worked at. Don't get me wrong, I loved shooting kids (yes, I know that sounds bad but whatever). My friend/co-worker and I actually set up a little studio in one of the rooms to get Christmas photos to send home with the parents and they loved them. But "photographer" was not my title. I was still a caregiver.
I took a huge leap of faith and applied for my first Social Media Manager position with a company that owned a couple of local boutiques and had its sights on opening a brand new concept store. The job was listed on Craigslist as a full-time position and after I had been interviewed and got the job, I happily quit my job at the Y only to find out it was not, in fact, full-time. This company had never hired somebody for social media before me, so I basically created my own job there. I did what I thought a Social Media Manager did. But I needed some way to make up for the hours I wasn't getting, so I asked to work on the sales floor when the new concept store opened.
From that point on, my job became a big question mark. I was the Social Media Manager but I also was good on the sales floor. They started coming to me for sign making, visual merchandising, and all these other things I was happy to do for them because it allowed creativity. Then the responsibilities I had became sort of a burden. It became confusing what part of my job was most important because I had two bosses telling me two different things. I was wearing too many hats at once and it was giving me a headache.
A small and often overlooked detail about myself in this situation: I am crazy introverted. According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am 98% introverted. No room for confusion there. Can you imagine a introverted sales person? I can, because I was one. And a good one at that. I pushed myself really hard to be great on the sales floor because I'm also a perfectionist and am so afraid of confrontation. Then an opportunity arose: They offered me a full time office position.
Our accountant was leaving and they needed someone to take over for her, but didn't want to hire someone outside of the company. Do I like math? No. Am I good at it? Hahahaha, no. Did I take this job? Yes, absolutely yes. The deal was that I'd also have way more time to work on social media (remember, this is what I wanted to do from the get-go and was hired for). So of course I did it. But the same thing happened to me all over again.
On top of accounting, I worked in the warehouse when we had big shipments (once or twice a week at the least), I was backup for the sales floor when somebody called in (which was way too often), I made deliveries, I took over the online store, and when our warehouse manager left, I got a lot of her responsibilities as well. Towards the end of my time there, I spent no time working the job I was hired for. The one thing I wanted to do.
Disclaimer: I am super appreciative to my bosses for all the experiences they'd given me working at that company. I honestly got to know the ins and outs of owning a business, the stress it came with, and also the rewards that came with it. They had put their full trust in me like I was part of their family. I have nothing but the utmost respect for them as business owners and will 100% keep in contact with them forever.
Now here I am, jobless and not willing to put myself through that again. As I've mentioned before, I'm the biggest introvert. I find human interaction and networking exhausting at times and work best on my own. According to the Myers-Briggs test, I'm an INFJ. It is by far the best description I've ever gotten of my personality but I won't let it define who I am. People are ever-changing and ever-growing and I know I can push myself to come out of my shell when I need to. But I want to stay as true to who I am as possible because I know that pushing myself too far can, has and will eventually take a toll on me. And right now, this is who I am.
I've been through a few interviews now for jobs that I know I won't fully enjoy and my parents and society will say to me, "Well, you need a job. You need insurance. You need to grow up." But are all of those worth sacrificing my happiness for? Peter Pan, people. Peter freakin' Pan. Just kidding. But hopefully you get what I'm saying. I was unhappy for years for selling myself out in many ways (not just work-wise), convincing myself that it's just how life is. Dream big, but settle for less. But now I refuse to believe that.
The fear of doing what I want to do is crippling. Isn't that so messed up? I have bursts of confidence that eventually fizzles down into a deep fear. I love writing these blog posts but what if people don't care what have to say? I love photography but what if people don't like my photos? I'd love to just be a "creative", but what if it doesn't pay the bills?
This is where Jesus steps in. There's a song by Bethel Music called "You Make Me Brave". Here's what the bridge says:
You make me brave, you make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore and into the waves. You make me brave, you make me brave. No fear can hinder now the love that made a way.
No matter how many times this is repeated or how many times my heart has been torn while singing these lines, I'm still afraid. My fear and anxiety still consume me and I just stand by and allow it to. I invest more time and emotions into being this timid little thing when I have a God who fights for me daily to be what He made me to be. But I'm learning and growing and daily looking to Him with hopeful eyes, knowing for sure that He's not done with me yet. That I am a work in progress and He's a God who doesn't stop working on something until it's the most beautiful it could be.