Gut told me I would be writing about this long before I even sat my butt down in front of the screen and my fingers began typing away on the keyboard. And by gut, I really mean God, because God is in the business of conjuring up things like that. He nudges and inspires you to share certain lessons and happenings in your life. But as a human with a whole lot of resistance and insecurities and hesitancy, while still learning a ton about vulnerability, you’re like nooooppppeeeee no thank you. Then you end up doing it anyway because that’s really what you should have done in the first place. Jokes on me I guess, so here we go.
Almost one year ago I sat in the very spot I’m now sitting in now, tapping letters on my laptop drafting up a story about confetti, (http://www.julianncheryl.com/its-a-confetti-party-and-youre-invited/) while getting ready to launch my (at that time, very first and very new) website and blog–the thing you’re all currently reading. I was in an incredibly hard place in life at that time, and had written something along the lines of how life never cautioned me about its whirlwind of adventures. And then I said something profound about how we should construct our lives around real things, and build our lives around good things. I talked about risk taking, and how most of the time, the thought alone makes me want to pee my pants. Okay, maybe I didn’t say exactly those words but that would have been an accurate statement.
Here we are a year later, and life is still tossing me around like the waves in an open sea.
I hear stories continuously—about how people chase dreams because that’s what they have craved to do with their lives as soon as they were born; people who have started making music ever since they could make noise, or wanted to be a doctor or firefighter as soon as they were in pre-school playing with action figures.
That’s definitely does not describe me.
I have been roaming in the music industry for many years, upon graduating from college. Til this day, I still am. I have always had a heart for the artist, and ever since high school, friendship and crazy opportunities allowed me to slowly ease my way into the industry. Really, it was all God’s doing. None of it was me. So working with artists and music, and being in the music business—that is a dream and, by the grace of God, I have been so blessed to delve into. I still very much enjoy that aspect of my life. But, a few months ago, I felt the push to pursue photography as well. Like, actually do it for real. Honestly, I really didn’t want to. The extent of my experience was growing up snapping photos with Kodak film. And then later when technology got a little more fancy, I had a few digital cameras. I have always enjoyed photography, and in my free time the last several years, I would go out shooting with friends and capturing moments. But if anything, it was just a hobby. I was passionate about it in a different way other than making some kind of career out of it. It was the way I found solace. It was one of the things that inspired me to keep pushing my creative energy. I used it as a way to find healing in many ways. But never, would I have actually pursued it as a living. Why? Because, insecurity. I didn’t want to commit because I was afraid of failing. What really went through my mind were all the feelings of uncertainty about how I wasn’t good enough, or capable, or skilled. I made ridiculous excuses. I made ALL the excuses. And I made excuses about how I wouldn’t be able to juggle two different worlds. That was also a lie.
God is calling me to, once again, jump.
I might swim. I might sink. But I don’t think that’s really what matters. What really matters is that He is calling me to jump, and I should.
I won’t know whether or not I’ll drown until I take the first leap, cannonballing into the waters.
I have had so many back and forth thoughts, conversations with close friends and mentor figures, numerous outlined pros and cons lists, and spent late nights praying about whether I am making the right life decisions in choosing to do photography simultaneously alongside with music. I’m a couple of months in for real, and I still don’t know. I might never know. But I do know that the last several months have been filled with nothing but humbling experiences, exponential growth, and a whole lot of lessons about identity.
Who you are, is who you are; what you do, is what you do. Don’t let what you do become who you are, or where you find your identity.
That has been the biggest lesson of this all.
I constantly meet a lot of people in different settings. But the funny thing is, I’m still an awkward small talker. Super awkward. You’d think I would have had enough practice by now. Obviously not. Most of the time, I can make it past the, “hello what’s your name, where are you from, how do you know so-and-so” and then without fail, it’ll go downhill from there and then the conversation will just go flat. Recently, the one question that ALWAYS comes up is: What do you do? It’s the question I dread every time I’m in a social context. It gives me anxiety sometimes just thinking about which answer I’m going to spill this time around; how I should try to explain doing work in both worlds. My brain flips into panic mode, I’m at a loss for words, and the internal dialogue goes a little like this: I’m a music artist manager. But I’m also a photographer. I’m doing both. Is it okay to do both? Wait, so what am I. And with friends I’ve known for awhile, it basically goes something like: Yes, I’m still doing music. I’m also doing photography. I’m doing both, depending on the day. And the higher priority is the one that demands the most in whichever season I’m in. But yes, both are equally important to me.
It’s so strange that I even think those thoughts, because neither of them really defines me. Neither being a photographer or a music manager are truly what makes me who I am. They’re just labels, and I sure as hell shouldn’t find my identity in either of them. Like I always say: I’m just a girl with big dreams, love to give, and stories to share. And all that stems from knowing who God is and what He did. We’ll leave it at that, and “what I do” is merely a byproduct of it all.
The confetti party is still bumping and strong. I’m still throwing it all over the place, but now, I’m also taking snapshots of it.
Spend your life, chasing life.
Spend it authentically pursuing the things the make you feel the most alive, because you were created just for that reason. You were created to live.
That’s what the music world and the photography world both allow me to do. Don’t get me wrong. There are many instants where times get real hard, and you’re wondering why you’re even playing the hustle game. But then I sit, and I reflect, and it’s like: Wow. I get to spend time investing in people. They allow me to witness snippets of their lives and to hear their stories. I get to see my friends succeed and pursue their dreams. I get the opportunity of exploring the world whether it’s down the street from my house or across the country or in another country. And I have the privilege of observing and capturing moments most the world overlooks because they are too busy to recognize the beauty surrounding them in the very spot their feet stand on.
So that’s where we are. I’m venturing into uncharted territory, and I have no idea where the current is going to take me. No freaking idea at all.
But I’ve come to this conclusion: I don’t have to choose one. I don’t have to choose music, and I don’t have to just choose photo. I can choose both. I am passionate about both. But right now, in this season of my life, this is what’s happening…
I’m intentionally starting a new journey into the photography realm. And that on its own is something that is crazily terrifying but also extremely exciting.
Here’s to hoping you’ll join with me and be part of that life journey.
And here’s to me ironically sitting in the exact same spot when I launched my official website. Except, it’s a year later and I’m preparing to launch my official photography website: Juliann Cheryl Photography (www.julianncherylphotography.com)
With a million red M&M’s,
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