Finding What Frees You - Gratitude Journal

posted on: April 11, 2016

Here's what's real and vulnerable for me, every single year I'm in business for myself as a photographer and independent creative small business... 
Gone fishing

There are some amazing photographers out there, some who spend exponentially more time on their images than I do, some who are in higher demand than I am, and some who have all of the right ingredients but still struggle more than I do.

We can argue better or worse with regard to talent all day long, but at the end of the day, the biggest question for me is not one of comparison to other creatives in my field, but most often, can I keep turning this dream of living as an artist into a reality this month, the next month, and through the end of this year? 

Every day I have to ask myself, how much do I want this? Is this really the work I want, the life I want, the way I want to invest more of my time and energy each day?  

There are weeks and sometimes months when I will question myself and my path every single day. It happens most often in the space between when I've finished a large project, but haven't yet secured my next big project. In these moments of project voids, I may spend every minute of free-time exploring other options. The reasons for exploring other options often have less to do with a passion for something else and more to do with the mitigation of anxiety or risk of financial strain.

No one said this life would be easy. In fact, everyone knew how hard it would be, which is why they encouraged me to do something "safer" with more "stability." All I heard was "chain yourself to a desk" and "let someone else decide how you should work."  Even though I have plenty of experience taking risks and moving through the space of unknowns, there's always the lure of something "easier" and "safer."

Then I remember what I have now, working for myself, working as an artist, that I didn't get when I worked full time for someone else.


The feeling of freedom means everything to me.

I will sacrifice so many other things to have freedom in how I work, who I work with, what methods I use in my work, where I work, and how I value the work I do. This is the driving force that lights my fire when I start to feel it sizzling out. It is the fuel that energizes me to get up and get dressed, even when there's no where to go; simply because I am free- even in those moments of anxiousness and insecurity, I am free to choose how I want to make the most of my day, my time, my energy, and my life.

I am free to spend my day prospecting for a new client, or free to be inspired with a visit to an art gallery. I am free to act on fear of failure and explore other career options, or I am free to get lost in the wonder of a spring landscape coming to life. I am free to develop my technique and my craft, or I am free to sulk in despair and self-loathing. I am free to express these feelings through writing, or I am free to let them stew in my mind like a drugged mouse in a maze.

On the good days, I choose to use my freedom for the highest good of my artist development and for the gratitude of all that the universe has gifted me with. On the bad days, I forget how much freedom I have to enjoy life in ways that don't even require expense to my bank account. Luckily, the more years I have as a freelancer, the more I've learned how to turn all of the "free days" into good days.

Freedom is not easy, but it is always worth fighting for. A seed could just as easily remain in the ground, unnoticed and unrealized, but when it does the work and pushes through the creative dirt of freeing itself from everything that holds it back, the end result is the most beautiful expression of life and existence.  

Do you need to work for yourself to have this freedom? Absolutely not.  

For some people, freedom is a high level of specialization that requires being part of a larger system in order to experience freedom at an individual level. For some, freedom is not thinking about ideal clients, not thinking about invoicing, and not needing to worry about where the next paycheck will come from. For some people, freedom comes from not having to be responsible for anyone else.

Find your own sense of freedom. Find what makes you thrive. Find the flow of ease and simplicity in your life. Find what matters most to you- that which provides you with the freedom you seek. It's different for everyone, but you'll know it when you've reached it because it will feel freeing in the ways that reduce your stress and release your anxiety.  

Allow room for your sense of freedom to change over your lifetime, not just once, but many times. It may be freeing to own your own business when you're single, but more freeing to work for someone else when you have children. It may be more freeing to have a company contribute to your retirement account and to have set work constraints that you don't take home with you at night, than to think about how you can grow your business even when you're going to sleep at night. There's no right way to experience freedom- because it's just as varied as we are as individuals- and as varied as each stage of life.

Do not let anyone else tell you that their version of freedom is better than yours. Choose it for yourself. Find what frees you, and make the most of that freedom in every area of your life.

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