Just One Year

So I'm going to take a minute to just brag a bit because for the first time ever I am so proud of my life and I need to post this for me. 

A year ago today I up and walked out of my office job and took the biggest leap of faith in myself. 

I thought I was decently happy with my life then, I did.   It's something I realized in hindsight that I was just completely lost and miserable.  I was doing everything I was "supposed" to do.  Decent friends, decent job, boyfriend, etc.  I guess one day I just decided that decent was nowhere near good enough.  My life had slowly morphed into having no real direction or goals without me even noticing.

In August I broke it off with the boyfriend.  My emotional state from that led to a spontaneous trip with a friend I'd met once off the internet to go up the west coast and go to the last couple days of warped tour.  I hadn't been to warped tour in at least 5 years and while there it hit me how disconnected I'd become from music which was my first passion in life.  I realized how much I needed to be part of that community again.  After that I became so fed up with my job.  I stopped putting up with their bullshit and after a few weeks I quit/got fired for refusing to be an asshole for them.

That feeling of having no job, not much savings, and no real backup plan was the scariest yet most freeing, exciting feeling. 

I had complete control of what happened next and yet no control at the same time.  I remember telling myself that I'd just see how much freelance work I could get in a month or so and if it wasn't working out then I'd find a new job.  I had no real plan at all but somehow shit worked out.

I started shooting some local shows for free for a few months to start getting my name out there, while still taking family portraits for holidays and whatnot. 

When 2017 hit, I went in full force.  Made connections with local promoters and went to basically every single show I possibly could for at least a couple of months. I sought out media outlets and got a few of those lined up so I could get photo passes and shoot bigger acts. I was shooting shows nearly every night with more and more starting to be paid work. I was barely paying my bills but somehow I was still paying them.  I drove for lyft when I could, helped out at my friend's business once in a while, got a part time gig taking pics of cars at a dealership for a bit.  Whatever I could do to get by while still keeping like 90% of my focus on my own photography.

When summer rolled around, I couldn't take the dealership gig anymore.  Something about burning the palms of your hands on cars every other day just did not sit well with me.  At the time this was the main job that kept me from completely falling behind on bills.

I had a couple possible tour opportunities kind of in the air and with that alone I quit the dealership job telling myself and everyone there that I was going on tour.   The day after putting in my two weeks, all those opportunities fell through. So I was about to have no job, no money, not enough photo gigs to pay bills, and no tour opportunities.  Fuck. 

But somehow, everything completely flipped a week or two later.  After scouring the internet for days and sending out hundreds of emails, suddenly I had the opportunity to go shoot a few days of warped tour, hop on tour with another couple bands, and I had an online job that would keep me from going bankrupt all the while. 

I got to travel for almost a whole month and have some of the best experiences of my life.  I made so many new friends and got to reunite a bit with some old friends.  I started experimenting with video stuff and put out my first ever videos. 

In the last year I've been able to photograph some of my favorite bands.  I've discovered countless new bands/artists that have become favorites.  I've made so many new friends that I wouldn't trade for anything.  I've made several opportunities out of nothing.  I've been able to even help out a few other fellow photographers along the way.  I got to tour a bit and get a taste for life on the road.  I got to connect with music scenes outside of AZ.  I'm part of the whole music scene again and now more than ever and I could not be any happier about it.  

I'm still amazed that all this was possible and that this is my life now. 

For someone that had such bad social anxiety as a teenager that people thought I was mute, I never thought I could be this kind of person.  I have never felt like I belong and that I'm actually where I should be until this past year.  Everything finally feels right.  

In no way was it all easy and full of smiles all along. 

I had plenty of people or situations along the way that made me second guess everything. At one point I was having almost weekly panic attacks from constantly pushing myself so far out of my comfort zone.  I still have days or weeks where I can't fully handle things emotionally.  I let a good handful of friendships/relationships go that were no longer beneficial to my mental health.  

Financial stress. Emotional stress.  Physical stress.  All of it has still been there through the whole ride.  But at the end of most days I can still be proud of myself and what I'm doing and who I'm finally becoming. 

So yeah. I'm fucking proud of myself.  I love myself.  I love my life.  I love that I can finally say that with actual certainty. 

If you're unhappy or unsure of your life, change it. Take some fucking risks.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone.  Find what you love and run full force.  Stop waiting for things to happen.  Stop letting others decide your life.  All that cheesy cliche shit is cliche for a reason.

This is only the first year of truly going after my dreams and just living for myself and I've already accomplished my first round of goals I set for myself way ahead of schedule.  I couldn't be more stoked on the progress I've made.  

This is just the beginning and I cannot wait to see what else is to come. 

Thank you to everyone that has supported me in any way.  Thank you to everyone that ever truly encouraged me.  Thank you to everyone that didn't treat me like an idiot for quitting my job. Thank you to everyone I've befriended in the last year.  Thank you to everyone that liked, commented, shared, or posted any of my photos.  I can only hope that the next year of life is at least close to how great this one has been.  I am forever grateful.  ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

Also, coincidentally I'm flying to Vancouver today and I get to see a bunch of my best friends there that I haven't seen in about 3 years and how perfect is that for celebrating this one year of awesome thing?! haha

Here are some of my favorite photos from this past year, in no particular order: