Late Night Thoughts - Believing in Yourself

For me, believing in myself started out as an entirely subconscious journey--as a kid it wasn't even a topic of conversation; show me one kid who doesn't believe that s/he could be anything in the world when they grow up, or who doesn't have an incredibly vivid and unapologetically imaginative mind. Kids are simply rad. They are invincible, determined, positive, and fearless. Somewhere along the line, a lot of us lost that childlike wonder, that impermeable belief that we were the best kid around; how does such a courageous and fail-free mindset disintegrate without a trace? I'm starting to believe that that mindset didn't disintegrate at all, and that rather than leaving us, it just hid itself deep inside of our souls, hoping that one day we'd search to find it again. Somewhere along our journeys we started becoming aware of the outside voice of society, and stopped listening to the guidance happening internally. When I first started my program at NAIT, I would get asked all the time what I was taking in school, to which was always followed by "That's cool, do you have a backup plan?". It seemed incomprehensible to others that this is what I was going to be doing as a career; they seemed to believe that photography can ever only be a hobby, and that I would never be able to create a living for myself. What they didn't seem to understand was that this was/is my backup plan; what I am currently doing is what I know I will always be doing, not only because it's become such a huge part of who I am, but also because I believe that I will make this work for myself. I believe. That's all there is to it. I believe and I work. Every waking hour I am "working", hustling to get myself out there, to get in contact with other creatives, to make a name for myself and what I believe in.

That believe has to come from within, from a place deep inside the cusp of who you are as a person. It can't just be a front, because as the sun sets and that strong and courageous facade of who you want the world to think you are will leave you feeling even more defeated than you were when you started out. The most important rule of this entire process--or heck, for every aspect of your life--is to stop relying on what everyone else thinks of you; stop allowing strangers to affect who you KNOW yourself to be. It's easier said that done to "not care" what everyone else thinks, but I think that once you truly reach that point where you're not affected by the thoughts and judgements of those around you, that you'll truly reach that level of unstoppability, that place where you're able to LIVE, free from social constraint. That's not to say that you have to be able to do that entirely before reaching any level of satisfaction--plus, who I am to claim such a statement when I myself am most certainly guilty of being affected by the thoughts of those around me, but can you really think of anything more soulfully gratifying than living life simply for yourself?

Untitled-3

Much like everything in life, it's easier said than done. It's easy to write about experiences, and share what we think to be true, yet it's harder to put it into practice. Just months prior to my convocation from NAIT in May of 2013, I'll admit that I was fumbling to find that belief in myself. I felt overwhelmed, a little lost, and just a little "blah" (for lack of a better word). It wasn't until one month prior to graduation where I felt something internally click into place; it was almost as if I had put so much soul-searching work into that last month of school that I was finally able to reach that belief in myself that I didn't even realize I was searching for. At that point, I had the mindset that it was time to go hard, to put EVERYTHING I have into who I am & what I do. There was no other option. I went from dragging myself through that last semester of school, to dedicating every waking hour to thinking, creating, brainstorming, blogging, networking, capturing. My belief changed from "yeah this is fun, I'm sure I'll make a bit of money", to "I am gonna make this WORK in a serious way".

There were--and still are--those moments of struggle, which I'm sure will never go away entirely, but it's in those moments that you need someone to lean on, someone to talk things through with. I've been incredibly lucky to be blessed with some of the most supportive and encouraging people out there--my driving force behind all that I do. When I feel doubtful or overwhelmed, it's Mark & my family who are there, acting as constant reminders as to why I do what I do. I think that one of the most fascinating things that come along with believing in yourself is the way that those around you will start to believe as well--equally as strong, or if not stronger than you do. Much like a lot of creative fields in the past, people tend to have a pre-conceived notion regarding whether or not anybody in an "artsy" field can actually make money. There are so many old social beliefs still around today that  stigmatize photography with a "starving artist" lifestyle; is it vain to say that one of my favourite things about my career is using that belief to my advantage? Not only does the belief in what I do and what I believe in fuel my fire, but the thought of proving wrong all of those who choose not to believe that I can be successful in my field of work reaaaaally fans the flame. And while we're on the topic of non-believers, of non-supportive-"insert your name"-motivators, if you have surrounded yourself with people who don't support the path that you're on, and who scoff at your goals and future achievements, than that courageous & fail-free mindset we talked about earlier that is buried deep within your soul, will only continue to sink further out of reach. Life is too short to make company with those who don't stand behind who you are and what you do, and that doesn't have to only pertain to what you do for work; if your network isn't okay with who you are, with what you believe, or with your goals & ambitions, than I whole-heartedly encourage you to search for a network who WILL support you in whatever you aspire to do. I've been stuck here before. Surrounded by people and places that were familiar and comfortable, not necessarily supportive and encouraging, but safe. Often times we fear leaving safety because fear of the unknown is way scarier (especially if you're introverted like myself), but as hard as it may be to force yourself to create new connections and relationships, the reward that comes along with embracing a circle of positive, supportive, and inspiring individuals will be so incredibly worth it. I promise. Do whatever you have to do in order to find that circle, it will change your life in more ways than you could ever imagine.

If at the end of the day you feel lost, alone, or just mentally blocked, I urge you to find someone to talk it out with. I'm always around. If you're a photographer and want to be involved in a positive and encouraging atmosphere, please check out Shoot & Share over on Facebook; and if you're still feeling overwhelmed (since there are over 14,000 members in that group!) then definitely check out your Local Shoot & Share Groups (Edmonton & Calgary you can find here if you're in my area!). I can't even begin to explain how much my local group has done for my well-being--these people are absolutely amazing. Lastly, if you still don't feel comfortable publicly talking in a group, then let's you & me talk; I've felt the suffocating burden of feeling like there was no one to turn to, and I don't ever want you to feel that way, which is why I will ALWAYS be here if you need someone to talk things through with. As a plus, I'm incredibly fond of deep conversations and connecting with similar-minded people :)

If you're interested in a few other resources that I've found encouraging and positive, then definitely check out the links below:

  • Emails from the Universe: I'm subscribed to this and I get them every single weekday morning; reading them is one of the very first things that I do after waking up. You can select when you want to receive them, as well as input what goal you're working towards, and when you want to achieve it, etc.
  • "Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting" by Lynn Grabhorn is a really good read all about making things happen for yourself--definitely recommend this one!

And of course, if you're just feeling overwhelmed and need a second to yourself, check these out (yes the internet can be super cheesy, but these are actually some pretty cool resources:

Thanks for sticking around and reading my late night thoughts. Also, a big thanks to Joelynn for asking me to write my thoughts on "Believing in yourself"--I absolutely LOVE hearing your guys' feedback and tailoring blog posts to suit what you're interested in seeing & reading; therefore, if you EVER have a suggestion, or a topic that you want me to write about, leave it down below in the comments. If you'd prefer to remain anonymous with your suggestions, feel free to email me you suggestion (kaihla@kaihlatonai.com) and I will ensure your anonymity

Talk soon, Kaihla ❀☮❀☮❀