Nice to Meet You!

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Hello and nice to meet you!  For my first blog post I’m going to expand upon my “About” page so you have a chance to really get to know me a little better and see how I got to the point of starting my own business.  So buckle up, things are about to get real!

 

I graduated with my associate’s degree in Photography in 2010.  At that time, to be honest, I still felt like a kid.  Let’s face it – I had only been out of high school for 2 years, that’s not a long time.  I didn’t have a great job, not even enough money to rent my own place, let alone start a business.  I felt like I had just started skimming the surface of photography and the business side? I had no idea where to start.

 

Tiffany Jackson, of Jackson Signature Photography, was a fellow student and friend of mine.  By the time we had graduated, Tiffany was already in the midst of her own business.  She would rush in and out of class, because while I was working hard on my assignments, Tiffany was already working hard for her clients!  I thought, “Man, this girl has got it all figured out!”

 

I had been going to school on a scholarship and once I graduated I wasn’t sure of the next steps for me to take.  I was in limbo.  I didn’t want to fork out the money to continue my education, I didn’t feel ready to start my own business, but I wasn’t exactly qualified for much else. 

 

There are times I wish I had gone to school to be a doctor, lawyer, or some other high paying profession.  This is what everyone had advised me to do.  I had graduated at the top of my class in high school and all I ever heard was “You can do anything, what are you going to do?”  People expected me to go the distance, to push the limits, to cure cancer for God’s sake.  But all I really wanted was to embrace my creative side.

In high school one of my hobbies was drawing.  I have always loved art and I wish more people would have encouraged me to follow my passions vs my smarts in high school.  My interest in art is what led me to photography.

In high school one of my hobbies was drawing.  I have always loved art and I wish more people would have encouraged me to follow my passions vs my smarts in high school.  My interest in art is what led me to photography.

Trust me, I know that being a doctor, or lawyer, or any other high paying profession is not easy, and I know it’s not easy to get there either.  But studying was something I was good at in high school.  They don’t teach you how to start your own business in high school, heck they don’t even teach you how to pay your taxes!  They teach you that continuing your education is the best thing you can do.  But what about after that?

 

Going out on your own is a scary thing.  If you succeed that’s great, but if you fail, there’s no one to blame but yourself. 

 

Anyway!  Back to my story!  Sooo, while stuck in Limbo, my solution was to join the military!  This was also something I had thought about doing while in high school – but was told by all the naysayers, (remember that phrase?) “But you can do anything! Why would you join the military?”  I let them talk me out of it for the time being, and completed my associates on my scholarship, but here I was again thinking about it.  This time I decided to jump!  I figured if I eventually was going to go back to school, I might as well let the government pay for it (though that was only one of many reasons I decided to join).

Just as there are times that wish I would have gone to school to be a doctor, etc. there are also times I wish that I would have jumped at my business right then.  Who knows where I would be right now – maybe my photos would be in magazines and I would have clients willing to pay me to travel halfway across the world to take their pictures!  This would not have been out of the question as my friend Tiffany has accomplished these things!  She has actually even started a second business! You go girl!

 

So!  What would I have had to give up if I had taken that route?  Where have I been between then and now?  Well, I started the process of joining the military in the fall of 2010 and was officially enlisted and off to boot camp in the spring of 2011.  I was out on my own for the first time in my life and I learned a lot about myself just in those first months.   If you’ve ever talked to anyone about boot camp, you’ll find that it is something different for everyone.  While we all share the yelling and the push-ups and the running and the sweating, the real experience is a mental one.  You learn about what you can take as a person, and that is an experience I would not want to trade.

 

After boot camp, I spent 8 months in Mississippi training to be a weather forecaster.  Again I was pushed out of my comfort zone and for the first time I was forced into a leadership position.  I also took on some extracurricular activities and joined the drill team where I learned how to spin and throw (fake) rifles and march with class!  I honestly didn’t think I would be coordinated enough to do this (neither did my sister- thanks Rach!) – but I surprised myself and hey, I was actually pretty good if I do say so myself!

Left: Military portrait.  Right:  Keesler AFB, Mississippi

Left: Military portrait.  Right:  Keesler AFB, Mississippi

You’re learning more about me now than you probably ever wanted to know, but I’m not done yet!  From there I went to Germany, accompanied by my now husband, and whoa!  What is starting a business compared to heading to Europe to live for three years!?  This is scary stuff were talking about.  I mean, I’m just a small town girl and prior to my joining the military I don’t think many people would have difficulty labeling me as a bit of an introvert!  But there I went; off to see the world, camera packed in my bag, with big things on my horizon.

 

I visited 10 countries during my 3 years overseas.  On the professional side I was a certified Regional Supervisor by the time I left Germany, overseeing up to 5 forecasters at one time.  I had won multiple awards and was selected to brief a 3 star general when he visited our facility – and this is only a small portion of my accomplishments.  Look at me – all grown up and being awesome!

Clockwise: New Palace in Prague, Czech Republic; Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; Zugspitze, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Abbey Road, London, England

Clockwise: New Palace in Prague, Czech Republic; Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; Zugspitze, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Abbey Road, London, England

All of these experiences I would have to trade in if I could go back in time and start my business right out of college.  Any you know what?  I don’t think I could do that.  These are the experiences that have shaped who I am now – and I’m not that small town, introverted, don’t know if I can do it girl anymore.  I’m now a wife and mother and on top of that I have the confidence that there is nothing I have ever set out to do that I have failed at.  There may be setbacks here and there, there will be times when I’m not sure what I am getting myself into, but I can work it out and I can do this.  And attitude is everything!  I’m not sure just out of college me could have handled it, but wife, mother, veteran me, I think she can.

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So here I am, starting over, from the bottom up, back in this small town of Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.  Change is always hard.  It was a difficult decision to join the military, it was a difficult one to get out.  It would have been easier to stay in and keep going.  The uncertainty of change is what gets us – we don’t like not knowing where were going to end up.  My business is just starting now, but I know it’s got a lot further to go.  Sure, I wish I could start out 5 years in, with the comfortable knowledge that I’ve made it, that my business is a success!  But that me in 5 years, she’s got a lot of experiences running a business to get through to be there, and she’ll be the better for it. 

 

My goal for this post was to connect with you on a personal level.  If I’ve done that, I think I can consider this a successful business day!  Please feel free to contact me or leave comments; I would like to get to know you too!