Self-imposed Restrictions

I discovered these common, self-imposed restrictions are rather insidious, though they start out simple enough. We begin by worrying that we aren’t good enough, that we’re not smart enough or talented enough to get what we want. And then we voluntarily live in this paralyzing mental framework, rather than confront our own role in this self-fulfilling paralysis. Just the possibility of failing turns into something self-fulfilling. We begin to believe that these personal restrictions are in fact fixed limitations of the world. We go on to live our lives, all the while wondering what we can change and how we can change it. And we calculate and re-calculate when we’ll be ready to do the things that we really want to do. And we dream. If only. If only. One day. Someday.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Debbie Millman, 2013 San Jose State University commencement address

When I was asked a few days ago if I expected to get a job in photography, I said, likely not, at least not a job paying well enough so that it would be my only job and I would not be begging on the street. This is probably true, but does that have anything to do with my abilities? No. The market is saturated by both good photographers, okay photographers, horrible photographers and those that are better at marketing than I am.

The same holds true for the farm.  If I were better at marketing, if I were willing to haul my rabbits 80 miles one way (four trips) to be processed at a licensed facility, if I could break away from dairy products, if I could discipline myself better to grow crops, if I raised chickens instead of ducks, if, if, if … or maybe not.  Maybe it would make no difference.

That is not going to stop me from becoming the best I can be at what I do. I have a wide range of talents and abilities, I just need to find my niche, my place in life.  It has taken me a long time to find a place. Maybe I have no place.lanterns

I spent over an hour this morning speaking to a very talented documentary photographer working in Madison County, North Carolina.  When I asked him what advice he’d give to people wanting to get into this field, he said, “don’t do it.” That’s encouraging advice. He got into it some 40-something years ago, back when the market was not so saturated, back when colleges did not offer degrees in photography and made something of himself.  Today, you have to have something really special to offer in order to “make it.” What is the definition of making it though?

This current portfolio project is bringing me closer to me, which is important.  I am seeing the me in it and if I dig deeper, more of me will come out.  I think I am a bit scared of that.

Lately, I have dreamt a lot of the students in my graduating class.  I do not know what that is. Maybe because it is coming to an end and we will likely go our separate ways, which is a bit sad because I’ve grown closer to this group of young adults than I normally do to anyone.  They do not know this.

It’s all very weird.


Until later …