It was a conversation we couldn’t believe we were having out loud, in a group, because it’s one that we just thought we had… in our head. Until we realized that we weren’t the only ones who have thought it. And we realized it was time to talk about it. Right then. Right there. A group of photographers. Different ages. Different genders. Different backgrounds. But the same insecurity siphoning our happiness and stealing our confidence. This sentence: I’m not like ____________________. Insert the name of the “successful” photographer of your choice. Have you ever felt that way? Are you there? We all were, too. Were being the optimal word.

With Chipotle burritos in our hands on the lunch break during last week’s workshop, things got real. Fast. One after the next, tears welled up in eyes on all four corners of the table. Some more than others, but even if the tears weren’t visible, our hearts all cried out the same feelings, from the photographer with just weeks of experience to the one with over a decade of it. All the lies.

I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too new. I’ve been around too long. I’m too quiet. I’m too loud. I’m a parent. I’m not. I’m a single mom. I’m a wife. I was a wife. I’m not cute enough. I don’t know enough. I wish I would’ve started my business sooner. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it. I’m not like ____________________. My story isn’t hers. Or his. Or theirs. There’s nothing interesting about me. 

Because those are the lies we tell ourselves. And, up until that moment, it’s the lie we told ourselves, too. And it was remarkable, a true revelation, to hear one photographer after the next say the same thing, My hand was shaking when I pushed submit. And after I paid for the workshop, I still almost didn’t come. I almost backed out I don’t know how many times. I didn’t feel good enough. 

And that group, that brave group, said the same thing about the welcome event the night before. I went back to my hotel and cried, because for two hours I looked around the room at everyone else and thought, “These girls all have it together. What in the world did I get myself into? I don’t belong.”  That’s when we made a stunning confession to them: we felt the same way last night. You should’ve seen the looks on their faces. “Last night, when we drove home from the welcome event,” we told them, “we thought to ourselves, ‘These girls totally have it together. What could we possibly teach them.”

God’s given you a story

How wrong we all were. How wrong we all are. Because, if we’re being totally honest with you, we’ve spent way too much time in the past wishing for other people’s stories… because, for whatever reason, we thought they were better than ours. We’ve let ourselves believe the lie that if we’d just started our business in college, we’d be so much further along. Or if we didn’t spend four years in the elementary school classroom, think where we could be now. The reality, though, is that we don’t want to know where we’d be if we’d started our business in college or didn’t spend those years in the classroom — because we wouldn’t be right here, right now, exactly where we are, exactly where God wants us, doing exactly what He planned for us to be doing all this time. And the minute we all start wishing for other people’s stories is the moment His perfect story for all of us goes from fully colored to frayed and
fractured, because we’re all supposed to be different letters, words, and sentences of different paragraphs, pages, and chapters. If we were all the same ones, it wouldn’t be a story, at least not one worth telling. And that’s just it. It’s the second lie we believe. The first is that someone else’s story is better. The second is that, therefore, our own isn’t worth telling. Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s given you a story just like He’s given us, and while we could spend our time trying to figure out why ours is ours and yours is yours, the better use of our time and yours is figuring out who we’re supposed to tell it to. Who can be encouraged by it. Inspired by it. Uplifted because of it. Because your story is unique. And there are certain people only you can reach with it. People we’ll never be able to reach. And the longer you wish for someone else’s story, the longer the people who need yours have to wait for it.

We’re reading an inspiring book right now called The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. He’s a writer who teaches aspiring writers how to become better writers. (You can sign up for his free newsletter here. It’s really good and has helped us a ton. In “The Art of Work,” Jeff says something in the introduction that’s so profound that it’s worth sharing here, because it’s everything this post summarized in one neat, tidy, powerful sentence.

He says, “The Art of Work was not the book I intended to write, but ended up being the one I was supposed to write.”

Translation: Your story isn’t the one you intended to tell, but it’s the one you are supposed to tell.

So, stop waiting. Go tell it. Someone — maybe a lot of people — needs to hear it. And the longer you wait, the longer it’ll be until they’re brave enough to tell theirs, too.  

Pink Bouquet_0046

Alisa

11 comments
filed in: Education, Personal

    Anne Casey

    Thanks for making me cry you guys! Sheesh! I'll never forget this workshop. Best investment ever, and I'm not even talking about the money.

    Amy & Jordan

    We love you, Anne! So much. Keep hustling. Keep fighting. We're proud of you :)

    Sheryl Kirksey

    Thanks Amy.. I'm right here too... Trying not to believe the lies but to believe God has a plan for my life and He's faithful to complete it...
    I'm tired of believing the lies.....

    Amy & Jordan

    He is SO faithful! You've got this Sheryl! <3

    Denise Karis

    YAS! I know you know how deeply this speaks to me! <3 you both!

    Amy & Jordan

    Loved having you there for this! Love you girl!

    Now I'm going to cry! Feeling the pressure so bad right now, always an inspiration you guys <3

    Amy & Jordan

    Hang in there, Amanda! You're right where you're supposed to be!

    Jessica Haley

    Love this! Is there anybody who doesn't go through this? I don't think so! :)

    Amy & Jordan

    RIGHT?! We're ALL in this together! Can't wait to see you on Saturday!

    Saudalia

    I love this! It's just what I needed to hear - 1 year after you posted it! Thanks for sharing it!