Most kids will answer doctor or fireman or superhero if you ask them what they want to be when they grow up. My answer was always a fashion designer.
My mom studied fashion design in Korea and it was what she did before she immigrated to the United States with my father. She was always into clothes and shoes and would never step out of the house without looking put together. I guess in a way, fashion was always in my blood and it wasn’t a surprise when I chose to follow in my mom’s footsteps. I spent my lunch breaks in the school art studio working on my portfolio and only applied to art colleges. I got into my first choice school and eventually I would spend most of my 20’s working in an industry I tirelessly worked to get into.
And I hated it.
It wasn’t me. It wasn’t what I was meant to do. I knew it from the beginning but because I had spent my entire life working my way to this point, I didn’t want to give up. I couldn’t walk away from all the sacrifices and hard work I had put into this dream. I miserably trudged on for almost 7 years. I didn’t think making a career change was a possibility. It never even crossed my mind. Until I found myself with a camera in my hands.
Ironically, I was never into photography. As an artist I definitely appreciated the medium but as far as how the work was produced and the process of it was something that didn’t really interest me. Then I got my first dSLR and a whole new world opened up. I suddenly found myself obsessed with capturing the world around me and diving deep into the technicality of it all. I was madly in love.
I wanted to be a photographer. It was the first time I found myself wholly excited about something and wanting more than anything. I was 30 years old and about to change my life. I thought I was crazy and stupid but I didn’t care. This was all I wanted.
Here I am today, 7 years later, and I still think back to that moment when I surprised myself by deciding to pursue this passion. Shutting the door on a career I worked tirelessly for was the scariest things I’ve ever done. I was starting over with no guarantee of succeeding and every reason to fail staring me in the face. Building my photography career was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done and many times I found myself sitting alone crying wondering what I was doing. But I never once regretted my decision because I loved it so much.
As cheesy as it sounds, photography saved me in so many ways. It rescued me from a job I hated and a relationship that was toxic. It became my escape and safe haven and my source of happiness. It became my identity.
Here I am at 37 years old and about to take on another new identity – Mom. When I think about my upcoming maternity leave, I find myself juggling so many mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m excited to take a break and begin preparing for the arrival of our son and then bond with him when he finally arrives. On the other, I’m nervous about the long hiatus and putting aside a career I still love so much. The beginning of motherhood won’t be the end of my career. I plan on picking up from where I left off as soon as I can. I realize it won’t be the same (nothing in my life will be) and I probably won’t be able to work as much as I did but being a photographer is such a big part of who I am now that letting that go would probably make me feel lost. You can be sure I’ll be constantly reaching for my camera when Baby Boy arrives.
I never thought it would be possible to switch careers in your early 30’s, meet the love of your life in your mid-30’s, and then assume a new identity near your 40’s. But here I am. Here I am to tell you that anything is possible and you can always change the road you’re on. Don’t put limits on yourself. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams and live the life you want and deserve. It’s never too late to dream bigger.
This week I’m so thankful for…
- Not needing to be on bed rest.
- All my clients who have booked me for their holiday sessions this year before my leave begins Dec. 1. I can’t wait to meet some of you for the first time and I can’t wait to catch up with my past clients.
- My loved ones who believed in me from the very beginning and who continue to support me through all the chapters in my life.
- My husband and son who give me more reason to succeed and be a better version of myself.
- Not letting fear get the best of me so I can build the life I’ve always dreamed of.