First of all, I can’t believe I went to this A WEEK AGO. Seriously, I feel like time is going by too fast for me to keep up! Second of all, it’s taken me this long to sit down and write out some of my notes and try to do a little recap of what I took away from the day…fail.

I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out for me to get to go to What’s Next…being self employed has meant that we have to be so much more careful about what we do with our money and we have to be sure that we’re getting the most out of what we do have. I didn’t really know what to expect, but as tears started pouring out all over my notebook as Mary was speaking I knew that it was really worth more than I could ever put a price on. The two main things that Mary touched on that struck me the most were 1. personality marketing is dying and 2. that you OWE IT to the people who have sacrificed for you to fight like hell for your dreams.

The first thing goes against so much of what I’ve learned as I built my business. I mean, my personality is the one thing that sets me apart from the rest of the photographers out there. If you feel like we could be friends, we would probably be a good fit, right? That’s why we (photographers) blog so many personal stories and share so many things about ourselves. Because it’s hard to compete just based on work alone in such a saturated market. There’s only one you!  Well that’s true, but it’s also not a good excuse for letting good work go by the wayside. Mary said “Building a business on personality alone does not push you to be better”. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it’s true. What I do is so much more important than the shoes I wear or how I really love watching 24 on Netflix. What I do is about the children and grandchildren of my couples, the GENERATIONS of family members that will refer to those wedding images as a record of a moment in their own family history. I want to aspire to be better at my craft. I want to tell stories and preserve them for people. I still need to think about what this really means for me, but I know that taking a look at the way I approach my work is only going to make me better and help me deliver the best to my clients.

The second thing was the thing that brought me to tears. And I was REALLY hoping that I wouldn’t cry. I have the ugliest, Teen Mom Farrah like crying face and it’s just NOT attractive. I felt myself tearing up a little bit as Mary started talking about her family and sharing how much they sacrificed for her so that her life would be better. And then when she turned it around on us and asked us who had sacrificed so that we could dream and do all the things we wanted to do, I just started crying. Thinking about how hard I work for my business and the sacrifices I made to get to where I am and where I hope to be going doesn’t phase me I guess…but thinking about how my husband told me he would work three jobs if he had to for me to get to do this and how he gets up every morning two hours before the sun comes up to get to work made my heart so heavy and my eyes well up with tears. I thought about my parents. My mom who sacrificed her life to devote her days and nights to raising me and my sister. My dad delivering pizzas at night after work so they could afford to give us a good life.  My birthmother. Who am I to not believe in myself when so many people have given up so much to give me the opportunity to do so? How can I say no, I don’t deserve to live this life or to dream big dreams? If it wasn’t for these people and the sacrifices they made for me, it would not be possible for me to chase my dreamIt almost makes it wrong for me to give this business anything less than 100 percent. Like I’m not doing these people any justice if I don’t. I owe it to them to succeed.

A few of the other gems I scribbled into my notebook:

Stop thinking of dreams as opportunities, but as obligations.
Don’t get caught up in someone else’s dream
We wear being busy as a badge of honor
If you can’t get out of it, get into it.

All in all, What’s Next was the BEST experience. I’m still not 100 percent sure what my big next is, but I feel so much more confident and ready to take on 2013. And more importantly I feel like I can finally give myself permission to dream big dreams and chase after them too!

I didn’t take my camera with me (I was trying to travel light…plus you know I love me some instagrams) but here are a couple of pictures from the day! I actually rode up to DC with four of my favorite ladies! The car ride was one of the most fun parts of the day:)

 

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10 Comments ( Reply )

  1. Kristin
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 9:55 am

    Love this! We went to the Dallas stop and it was amazing!

    Reply

  2. Brea
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 9:55 am

    I’m so glad you had an awesome experience! I’ve loved reading everyone’s recap of the day. Maybe you don’t know what your “big next” is, but you clearly took some good out of it and it will make you and your business grow! That’s what really matters :)

    Reply

  3. Katie Jane
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 9:56 am

    Love reading about everyone’s experiences at What If!

    Reply

  4. Rebekah Hoyt
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    I feel like I keep seeing you at all of these events but we never have a chance to talk!! I’m so glad you had a wonderful time :)

    Reply

  5. Katie
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    Love this post. So good to see you! I wish we had more time to chat!

    Reply

  6. Christy Tyler
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 10:33 am

    This sounds amazing!!! I’m so bummed I wasn’t able to make it to one and that they didn’t do a Chicago stop! :(

    Reply

  7. Anna Kerns
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

    I loved reading about your experience! I’m so happy that you’ve given yourself permission to go after your dreams! That’s huge. That’s one less thing standing in the way of success. Get it girl!

    Reply

  8. Annamarie
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

    I feel like Jen and I steal the show in this post with that first insta…hahaha..jk. Seriously, I am so proud of you and I’m so glad we decided to go to what’s next!

    Reply

  9. Jen Jar
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

    Annamarie, we TOTALLY steal the show ;)
    Katie, I LOVE YOU! I really feel like we are Asian sisters separated at birth :)

    Reply

  10. Carly Fuller
    Jan 26, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    Reading the recaps reminds me I really need to re-read my notes…They had soo many amazing ideas and have really cleared the path for 2013!! Excited to hear your experience also

    Reply

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