It Doesn’t Have to be Either/or
For the past several years, I’ve lived my life as either/or when it comes to my career. Either I advance in my pursuit of becoming a professional photographer, owning their own business, freelancing, or I see how far I’m willing to go as an IT professional.
I’ve wanted to be many things in my life and for the longest duration, an artist. That was my focus in high school and actualized in my choice for major, graphic design. Speaking of art school, that’s when I really started making money…really good money as a server at a popular restaurant in the heart of Washington, D.C. The appreciation for money began to supersede my desire to create. Fast forward eleven years, and while I’ve achieved personal success within the IT field, I still desire to create on a larger scale.
Several years ago, I wanted to start my own photography business as a freelance photographer. I set up my sole proprietorship, tried to grab as many photo opportunities as possible, and went to work with my shiny Nikon d40. What I learned during that journey was way more indispensable than how I failed. Case in point: I had a good run. People were happy with their products and consistently recommending me to others. Towards the end of this period of hustle, I was on the brink of finalizing a contract as the exclusive photographer for a local media company. Prior to doing so, I shot something I wasn’t particularly happy with and it sucked the life out of me. It was the absolute counter to what I was working towards. I took that failure as a sign to, “Let it go.” Hence, I didn’t even fail right. Present day Courtney definitely would have told that version of me, “Get over it.”
If you know me, you know I’m very much a believer in things happening for a reason. Maybe I needed to be humbled. Maybe I needed to mature and experience other life events to prepare me for something else. Maybe it’s all of the above and far more. But one thing I do know, it was never an either/or situation. It was whatever I wanted it to be and if I look at where I am today, (essentially back to where I started), it was just another experience.
No one has to exist in this reality of either/or. We don’t have to force ourselves to choose when it comes to career, passion, and the pursuit of happiness. In the words of one of my heroes, Oprah Winfrey, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”