Life is wildly untamed. It swifts and turns and tosses you into turmoil. And then, when you are recovering from the chaos, putting the pieces back together, you realize you were just breathing through the entire ordeal. Waiting for your breath to become a little steadier, less shifty and quickened.
This is how it feels to grow a business. Like a baby, I find myself caressing and coaxing it. I dream about its possibilities, and I feed it the best parts of myself. Some days, I am not the best mother. I can be unkind and full of self-hatred, by which my baby business gets the terrible brunt of. I curse it and I want to give up. Throw in the towel, so to speak. On those days, the fantasy of watching my baby business grow seems so far stretched, the grasp more than just a little beyond my reach. On those days, nothing I do seem to bear fruit. Changes are slow, and the fallen is not so mighty during those dark times.
I second guess myself a lot. If I were to be bluntly honest with everyone, including myself, I have many moments of self doubt, when I don’t think I’m a good enough “business mother” to this child that is still growing. I want so much to protect Life After Dark from the world. I know, though, that to let it grow, to allow it to flourish, I must expose it to the unkindness of those who don’t understand it. I have to help it develop a thick skin, allow it to be its own entity, build its own identity.
Over the last 4 years, while my small little slice of heaven — this little photography business of mine — grew vast into the local community, I learned that I am not always open to what would help me grow as a mother, and therefore help my business. To grow, I have to let criticism in, constructive and otherwise. I have to be open to education, no matter how harsh it is.
So when someone tells me, “You’re way too expensive,” I soak it in, let it eat me up, spit me out, and then reason and justify to myself why I charge what I do.
So when someone tells me, “Your photos are okay, but they’re only that — just okay,” I break a little bit inside. Opinions, when they do not coincide with your immature confidence coupled with having a bad day, can be so brutal and cutting.
So when someone asks me, “Post your photo here and we will help you grow, we will critique it so we can help you get better at editing, at using your camera, at manipulating light, at marketing, at pricing, at being a better service to your clients,” I wince, cringe a little inside, swallow my pride, and thus far, almost always, I go, “No thanks. I know what I am doing.”
This year will be different. This year, I will be a little more vulnerable. A little more open. A little more humble. This year, I will learn to love criticism, and learn to embrace change. This year, I will not be so afraid of growth. Just a little less afraid. Just a tad.