Happy Wednesday, friends! So I’m in the middle of a series to give encouragement to other aspiring photographers and other creatives in general called “So You Want To Be A Photographer?” where I’m sharing a little bit of my background and all of the fears I had to overcome in order to finally make that leap. If you’re just joining me, you can catch up by reading the first part here:
I remember clearly one day 7 years ago. I was at my parents house and I could hear my nephew, Zoe, giggling in the background. I didn’t know what he was laughing about, but I figured he was pretty entertained. Eventually though, I heard my mom let out a big sigh of disappointment and disapproval… see, Zoe had locked all of the bedroom doors to the house and had hidden the keys- just one more thing to add to the list of inappropriate behaviors. I went over to see what was happening and thought to myself, “I wish I knew how to interact with Zoe better. I wish I knew how to play with him and him actually enjoy hanging out.” The thing is, Zoe has Down Syndrome and none of us knew how to properly engage with him. We were all pretty ignorant to be quite honest. It got me thinking though and I was left with the curiosity of how to educate myself better and ultimately, change MY perspective, not change Zoe.
On my first day, I immediately knew that this was going to be something that changed my life.
One day, several weeks later, a friend of mine asked if I knew anyone interested in working with children with Autism. I told him that I was, quite impulsively, and he asked me to come in for an interview. The thing was, as I shared in last weeks post, I was growing increasingly disconnected with Design. Since it was never something that moved me profoundly, I felt no real connection or love towards it. So when he asked me, I figured, well… why not! I had already been wanting to learn more about how to play, work, understand, communicate and love my nephew… maybe this was the way to do that! I started with both feet in and dove into the world of clinical therapy for children with Autism and other related developmental disorders.
On my first day, I immediately knew that this was going to be something that changed my life. And I can honestly say that it did! I worked 6 days a week giving 1-1 hab therapy to a little kid named Ali. And he was the cutest boy ever. I introduced him to the world of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Comic books and all things nerdy and rad! We became BFF’s. I loved that kid as if he were my own and grew close to his family as well. He taught me patience. He taught me belly aching laughing joy. He made my imagination run wild. We played the most fun games imagining that Darth Vader was on his way to destroy the galaxy. We would sit and look at the ceiling, and pretend that our world was upside down. We would sing songs… over and over and over because he was obsessed with one little part, but to him it was the best part ever so I sang it and sang it loud for him a million times. I would draw him the M&M characters all dressed up with different halloween costumes and make up things they would say in a funny accent and he would laugh with such an intensity that I would start laughing too and we would laugh for hours together. He made me appreciate and value things that I never paid attention to before.
Eventually, I became a supervisor at this clinic and had to let go of most of my 1-1 duties with him, but was able to help more kids and families get the services they needed. I can’t say enough times how grateful I am to have had that experience. It became something much more than I had ever imagined it would be and was challenged and moved me profoundly everyday that I interacted with any of those kids.
Several years and an engagement later, my fiance and I decided that it would be best if I moved to Hermosillo, Mexico. I was heartbroken at the idea of having to leave everyone when one day Daniel, my friend, asked if I would be interested in continuing with the company. He said that he was planning on opening a clinic in Hermosillo, and I jumped at the chance to be a part of this new project. We started from zero, people. Like we didn’t even have an office. I did house calls for a good year before we actually had a clinic to bring clients to. But I didn’t care because I, along with the help of other people were part of something bigger than us. We were helping the community here be more educated and feel more empathy. After a while, word got around and we had more clients than we could fit in the clinic!! It was so amazing to see how families regained a sense of hope. Moms and dads were feeling empowered by knowledge and the support we gave. Kids were advancing academically and developing social skills. AHH! It was awesome.
One of my first clients in Hermosillo was this cute kid featured above. Luis Carlos is an AMAZING kid with so much potential, heart, drive, curiosity, wonder, and love. From the first day, he stole my heart and reminded me of how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to meet these kids and be moved by them. I helped guide his teachers at his school and helped guide his parents when they gave him therapy at home. And let me say, his parents… wow. BEST. PARENTS. EVER. They were so involved. So motivated to challenge themselves and face difficult moments in order to help their child succeed. They removed all pride and accepted that a 20 something was going to tell THEM what to do haha. Luis Carlos reminded me to appreciate the little things once more, to look at a flower and admire its beautifully colored petals. To appreciate the warm rays of the sun. To play the most simple imaginative game and have an absolute blast doing it. To never underestimate the importance of the alphabet and its usefulness in ALL situations hahaha He was another kid who changed my life completely and forever.
(Luis Carlos LOVED his letters and numbers. He used them for everything and was fascinated by every aspect of them. He would incorporate letters and numbers into everything he did and found so much unbridled and unfiltered joy in them. AH, so cute)
But after 6/7 years… the need to have a creative outlet was starting to get to me. It was an overwhelming feeling… one that I had ignored for way too long. Remember in my last post when I said that photography was something that was always kind of part of my life? That it was something I loved did consistently without ever really putting much thought into it? Well, throughout my time as a hab therapist/ clinical supervisor, I was always taking photos of the kids… of the therapists working with the kids (with parent permission of course haha). Even if the photos weren’t good, I was always capturing moments in the clinic or at the clients homes.
(insert my hipstamatic “artsy” photos here haahh)
Photography was always there, I just didn’t believe in myself enough to go for it or look at it as anything but a hobby. Time went on, the need grew stronger, and I found myself in a place of extreme discontent. On one hand, I loved the work I was doing and felt like I was a part of something that was truly making a difference. On the other hand, my deep desire to create and capture and spread joy through photography was eating at me. I would spend all of my free time, browsing photography blogs and instagram profiles of photographers I admired wishing I could be one of them and do what they did. I bought photography books and read them even though I wasn’t a photographer. Then one day, I realized that I wasn’t giving my 100% at my job… and that I actually hadn’t been giving my 100% for a while. And I said to myself that this had to change. Ethically speaking, I couldn’t go and be in this headspace while I was working with these kids. It wasn’t fair to them. It wasn’t fair to my co-workers. It wasn’t fair to myself. I just couldn’t do that. Emotionally speaking, I wasn’t aware how much it was affecting me (and those around me) until I came home one day and just cried my eyes out. I wanted to make a change. I NEEDED to make a change… ahhhhh but remember my last post. There have been few times in my life where I have taken a risk. Few times where I have ventured into the unknown. I had a stable job. I was doing well. The kids were amazing. It was difficult, stressful, beautiful, inspiring, frustrating, incredible… and it was a project I was a part of from the beginning. It was part mine. And to leave it for photography?? For something uncertain? I would have to take a rather large financial risk… personal risk… I would have to believe in myself enough to do this. I would have to recognize my worth and my talent to do this. I wasn’t sure that I could. I had so many fears and insecurities that Inwasnt even fully aware of before but had manifested themselves ten-fold at this time. What if I invested a ton of money into buying equipment only to fail? I would be putting myself out there which makes me uncomfortable. I would be vulnerable. What if I make a fool out of myself? What if I get into all sorts of debt for the dream of becoming a photographer. Part of me found it much to difficult and overwhelming to face reality and found solace in ignoring all of this. Part of me just wanted to forget about this crazy dream I had. However…
Then one day, my husband asks me, “So, you want to be a photographer?” to which I replied “yeah” (in my head I thought I kept my cool, but in reality I guess I sounded a little more exasperated than I realized) and he said that he thought I should go for it… that if I was feeling this overwhelming need, that the answer was pretty much in front of me. BUT… but! Fears…. insecurities… risk!! Nope. EXCUSES. That’s all they were. Excuses to not be authentic to myself. Excuses to let those fears and insecurities continue to run my life. That Christmas, which was just a few weeks after this whole inner debate, Chino (my husband) gifted me a camera. And I cried…and cried…and cried some more. I took that as a final form of motivation and encouragement to send in my resignation letter. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, because as I’ve said, taking this risk was incredibly scary both financially speaking and personally. Leaving this job, one I had done for 6 years or so, was heartbreaking. I wasn’t sure that was to come. It was all uncertain. But the only thing I knew… the only thing that had truly been consistent in my life was photography. And I had to pursue it. There was no other choice. It was time for me to do what I was meant to do. It was time for me to shine and to believe in myself. But most of all, it was time to value my worth…
Well, friends, that’s it for now. Stay tuned next week for the final installment in this series! But until then, I’ll leave you with a few more photos from my time as a Clinical Supervisor/ 1-1 hab therapist.
(yes, that’s Daniel and I zooming down the hallway of the clinic. Hey, even bosses and supervisors are allowed to have some fun!)
Next week, I’ll be talking about the importance of having a strong WHY (as in WHY am I doing this? What’s the motivation/ intention behind it?) So stay tuned as I’ll also be giving a few tips to getting started! Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey! Have a beautiful day!
To read part 3 in this series, click here: The Importance Of A Strong Why