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What The Passionate Don't Always Tell You

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What The Passionate Don t Always Tell You
Published by Michelle Foong on 01 August 2016
Pursuing a passion full-time is definitely not easy. Usually you’ll read or hear people say...

“FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! SCREW THE WORLD AND PURSUE YOUR PASSION!”

What they don’t tell you is, “Oh, by the way, it’s going to be really hard, you’ll struggle a lot and at times you may ask yourself why you made this decision in the first place.” So, I’m letting you know that right now. I’m not being a pessimist about it all, but more of a realist. I’m not telling you to give up either! I’m just letting you know it’s hard, but you’ll get through it if you put in the effort.
Don’t be too spontaneous… I say this with a grain of salt and a splash of wisdom in case you get the urge to say, “I QUIT!” Sometimes I do wish I still held onto my ‘full-time’ job while pursuing a photography career (or looked for another stable job in the meantime), but in all honesty my workplace of three years was toxic. Not in the sense of “office-politics,” but more of me becoming an extremely angry person, and was starting to hate myself — there were just too many times I would snap at my boss, and a shouting match would ensue (that’s what happens when you put two alpha females together…or should I say, stubborn). So after spending two months abroad exploring North America and parts of South America I handed in my resignation with no backup plan at all.
I have both gladness and regret from that decision, but either way I was out of that environment. The smart thing to do though is always have a backup plan or before pursuing your passion full-time build up enough capital to support yourself. For myself, I work a few other odd jobs here and there when my photography is in its down-periods — be it building websites, graphic design or I.T. Support.
Don’t burn down all your bridges…With my tail between my legs I ended up moving back in with my parents (I was actually asked to move back too) as I couldn’t keep up with rent anymore and lovingly they let me take back my room. With whatever money I had left over, I started up my own freelance multimedia business and promoted myself like crazy — not to mention getting into contact with people I knew. Networking is so important because it really is about the people that you know, so there’s another tip. At the same time, it’s the best way I’ve been able to travel the world on such a small budget — it’s great to have friends who are from overseas and are always accommodating, also because you would do the same for them! I was lucky enough to be an international student myself while doing a stint of college in New York. Facebook has helped me keep in touch with all of my friends and I mean I actually take the time to keep in touch with them, not just when I need somewhere to stay. And yes, this does take effort.
Don’t forget your support… One of the hardest parts about pursuing your passions is that some people won’t understand it — “How can you be so reckless?” they would secretly ask in their heads, while saying, “Oh, it’s so amazing that you’re chasing your dreams.” So for those who truly support you, don’t ever take them for granted. Sometimes they’re the ones who keep you grounded and remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing in your moments of doubt. I have just a handful of supporters (probably just two key people in my life who keep me grounded), and unfortunately that doesn’t exactly include my parents as they don’t really understand nor appreciate why I love photography.
If anything their answer to my want of taking photos of places and animals is, “Can’t you just Google it and see the place or animal on the internet?” Explaining to them about the importance of the journey is like talking to a wall. So, love those who support you and just be patient with those who don’t understand — the journey is yours, not theirs (so cliché right? But so true).

Enough of the DON’Ts what about the DOs?!

Do be adventurous… Dare yourself to do new things, but please do so with common-sense. You can discover new things not just in places, but also in yourself! Rather than spending more money on more gear, because sometimes what you have is already good enough, spend it on experience. I love exploring new places and there are times when my pockets are shallow and I just think, “YOLO.” Not always a wise choice as there are days where I’m crapping myself wondering how the hell I’m gonna get back home. Also, try out new techniques. I have a mindset where if I see another artist/photographer doing something really cool I think, “If they can do that, so can I!” So I try, with a minimal budget, and from there maybe develop or add it to my own style. Maybe you’re a little more savvy than me, but take the plunge and have an adventure — when you say you’re bored it’s because you’re a boring person.
Pardon? The person at the front will get the brunt of the rapids? OK, I’LL SIT THERE THEN — Me in the green shirt whitewater rafting on the Black River, NY. Photo taken by a guy named Ted.
Do take pride in your failures…So what, you took a crap photo, you made an ‘ugly’ piece of art, your story sucks, etc. like our primary school teachers taught us (if they still have this awesome attitude like mine did) there’s always room for improvement. Go ahead, make the mistakes — experience the failures! It’s how some of us learn. I once dated an interesting person who was doing their masters in media arts while my young naive self was completing an undergraduate degree (I totally lived the life of a ‘Hollywood’ college artist thinking love was forever) — now they‘re doing well in their passion in their field of photography/fine arts (thank you Facebook). How did they get there though? Well, I learned that they always threw themselves in the deep-end, prodded at things until it broke (like my heart…kidding…or am I?), experimented, made the mistakes and learned from them. As much as my heart was broken and for a while I was mentally messed up I’m actually grateful for the lessons I learned from the relationship and their life. Name one successful person who has never made a mistake or never had a failure — yeah, I thought so.
Do stay humble…Let me just put it to you…you will never be perfect. I don’t mean this in the negative way that you should just give up and join the rat-race. What I mean by this is that your best will never be your best…wait, that didn’t turn out right either. Let’s re-phrase. It’s good to stay humble in a sense that you know you’ll never ‘be the best’ photographer, artist, author, etc. because life is meant to be lived— you don’t just reach one goal and that’s it. Let there always be a passion for learning more. If you think you know everything, then there’s no room for new discoveries — a good teacher will always remember that they were once a student, and being a student is for life.
There are my thoughts. I do not claim to say that I am successful and that I’ve “made it.” Nor do I say I know everything. In fact, I’m still in the midst of my journey — it ends when I kick the bucket. But here’s the darn honest truth…you will struggle, you will have disappointments, you will have self-doubt, you will feel like you have regrets, you will make mistakes, you will feel like a failure, you will have nights crying yourself to sleep, you will have sleepless nights, you might have a panic or an anxiety attack, you might even consider selling a kidney on the black-market for extra cash (kidding, please don’t) — but know this, you are not alone and it also means you are alive, kicking and working hard. I still have my moments of weaknesses, but thanks to the few who I call my anchors and spiritual guidance the one thing I choose to do is not give up because all of the negativity is temporary, and struggles are a part of life — it’s what makes you grow as a person, and helps you write your journey.