I feel like I am staring at a bunch of one-way paths for my life and career and I need to choose wisely. So I stare at them, analyze them, plan out where I think they will go and I just freeze.
So many notebooks full of dreams and plans. So many articles read, podcasts listened to, and so much searching for my own answers. I stare at those paths and I want to know where they go. I want to peek around the corner and see if they are for me but I can't. Because the paths aren't like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book where you can cheat and flip through to the end and see if that was a wise choice. Which is really scary because I want to know where the path goes. But it's also wonderful because the path isn't fixed. The ending isn't written. That could be even scarier in a sense. There are infinite possibilities.
So often we hear about the fear of failure but not many talk about the fear of success. That is what I suffer from. I worry that if I pick a path what if I am good at it, what if it goes well, too well. What if I never get to explore those other paths because I am too successful at this one. That seems crazy, right? I thought so too. I thought this concept was kind of insane and something was wrong with me. Then I started talking to my friends and found I am not alone. Others feel the same way. --This often happens when we actually share our fears and the tough things we go through. But I know it's easier to just share the good stuff. I often thought I don't want to burden people with the bad stuff, they don't want to hear about that.
Right now I am staring at these paths and so much is possible, it's exciting, scary and overwhelming. I feel that once I take those steps down the chosen path that's it, that's the one way I am heading. But a dear friend of my today helped me see that I still have a choice. If it goes too fast or gets overwhelming I can take a break. I can also try a new path. It is not set in stone.
Lately, I have been hearing all about knowing my ideal client, sharing my why, defining the vision for a business. But you know what, as a creative person that is really hard. We wear many hats as creative entrepreneurs and moms, many of which are always changing. Yet as business owners we are supposed to be defined and concrete. Life isn't stone so why do we have to have such a concrete definition of our business?
A friend of my asked me "who do you want to be?" After telling him he sounds like Moana's grandma I responded with I do not know.
He told me to "be honest with yourself and say the first thought in your mind out loud. If you get it out, it's easier to figure out."
My unfiltered response was this...
I love being a mom and I want another kid but that isn't happening and it's really fucking hard!
First I hardly ever curse but at that moment there was no other way I could describe it. I was in a downward spiral of grief and depression the other day and I am so thankful for him and my other friends that day whose texts and phone calls saved me.
Life isn't going according to plan. --but does it ever? I thought I had my path chosen. I was a stay at home mom--I mean work from home, I often forgot that in the first few years of motherhood. I was always a photographer. I never stopped working but at times I took steps back. I didn't market my work or actively try to get new clients. I always had some referrals and repeat clients. And somehow I even had new ones fall in my lap. For some reason, though I didn't consider myself a working mom. A colleague of mine noticed I changed my Linkedin profile to reflect my new role as a mom and he too thought I had taken myself out of the game. I guess in a way I had.
In my mind, I had a plan. I had a focus. I would be a mom and a part-time photographer. I would take only a few clients but my main focus for the first 3 years of my daughter's life would be raising her and spending time together as a family. My husband worked full time and my income was going to be extra money for savings and extra things (like my coffee habit, vacations and home projects). Then around the time she starts preschool, we would have our second child. Then see maybe a few years after that a third or maybe just stop at the two. After the babies weren't babies anymore and didn't need me as often my part-time photography would turn into full time again. I would have time for marketing and growing the business. It sounded like a great balance.
I always thought well I am getting older so the third child might depend on my age too. But in all my thoughts I never thought that the second pregnancy would be tough. And at first, it wasn't. A few months after we started trying we got pregnant, right on time. It was a few weeks after she started preschool (we got pregnant the beginning of October 2016).
Annabelle starting preschool was more emotional than I thought but when I struggled, I found peace knowing that we would have another little one soon. Except we didn't. I had a blighted ovum. I will tell my story when I can get through typing it without breaking down in tears--or rather I can work through those tears enough to finish. Basically, it is a miscarriage where the gestational sac develops but the fetus doesn't develop. The word I often thought of to describe it is EMPTY. That was how I felt too--and sometimes still feel that way. After almost 3 months of dealing with awful pregnancy symptoms while also dealing with pain, uncertainty, anxiety, loneliness, and so many emotions my body finally got the message and on Christmas Eve 2016 officially ended the pregnancy. Since then I have been trying to heal and we have been trying to try again.
It has been a very long year and three months and still no good news to report. There are still days that it comes in waves. I see a random post that someone is pregnant or someone asks about our future plans for another kid or Annabelle says something or a million other tiny things and it feels like a fresh stab wound.
Those little things remind me that the path of raising another child is closed right now. I want desperately to jump on that path and run to the joyous moment of meeting our second child and then watching her or him grow. But I can't-- at least not right now. So I stand frozen unable to choose. Worried that if I go down one path, if I succeed at that kind of career that I will miss out on that wonderful path of being a full time, fully focused mom again.
That same friend told me "get that hurt out of your way, so you can enjoy the good that's happening for you now." And he's right. Every time I get motivated and think I can move on I feel this secret and this hurt hanging over me. I pause. I wait. I also didn't think I could write honestly on my blog or share my story without sharing this part of who I am.
It is rare that I will ever post a blog without photos but I don't know what to choose to illustrate these words so for the time being, I think the words are enough. That was hard enough. Someday I might come back and add some photos but for now, I will move forward and take steps to move along the path. Maybe I will succeed and it will be terrifying and amazing. But it doesn't mean I have to continue along that path forever and it certainly isn't one way. They connect. If I find out soon that a new path is open then I can explore that and come back. Possibilities may not be what we planned or what we saw coming but if we keep moving we will find our way.
Thank you to all my friends who have been there for me. I need to remember to continue to reach out because each time I do I am amazed by the response. You are all so wise and kind and mean so much to me! To those reading this that have gone through similar or feel this way too, I want you to know you are not alone.