I hear you. I hear you loud and clear. I know this feeling all too well.
In fact, I’ll be totally honest, I experience this feeling, this fear, every day. It sneaks up before I share my work on social media, lingers as I push publish on a blog post, hangs out over my shoulder as I speak through a webinar, and it stares me straight in the eye through a mirror before I head out to photograph each wedding.
I used to keep my photography a secret. I told myself it was important to “protect my passion” and hold it close to me because that’s where it’d be safe. Safe in a place the world couldn’t reach. A place that wouldn’t welcome opinions or judgments. Somewhere I would never feel disappointed, less than or embarrassed.
And when I’d slip up and someone would see my camera or bump into me while photographing, I’d do exactly what fear was telling me to do. I’d dodge the topic entirely, or if pressed, I would say things like “Yeah it’s just a stupid camera, a lil’ hobby I picked up”. As these words rushed out of me, something else deep inside was whispering “No no no, it’s not just a hobby, it’s everything. It’s everything I love to do, it’s everything I want to do.”
As years passed, that passionate voice deep down inside got louder and louder and louder. I slowly started to recognize what was happening. My passion was growing too strong for fear to handle. And one day, a day I’ll never forget, I shared my first photo online. I remember the urge to shut my laptop right before clicking “post”. But I ignored that thought, and I went for it. And you know what happened? Not much. A few people “liked” it, a few commented. But most people continued on with their day and the world kept moving forward.
Funny though – you’d think that mediocre response from others or that lack of attention would’ve bummed me out. Nope. Just the opposite actually. I was the happiest I’d been in a long, long while. In that moment when I chose to defy fear and share that piece of me with the world, I started a whole new journey. I broke through a wall that I had been running into for far too long. That baby step was everything.
Since that day, I have trampled over fear time and time again. And of course, I’ve met “failure” – I’ve made mistakes and fallen on my face, but what successful person hasn’t? It’s in the thick of those mistakes and during those moments on the ground when I learned the best of lessons and grew as a photographer, business owner, and person.
Fear wants you to live a small life, go back inside and hide from the world. Don’t let it win. Navigate your life, do great things and follow your heart. You owe that to yourself.