From the Heart: My Fears vs My Dreams

-Today is 7-11-11. It’s Monday, it’s Free Slurpee Day at 7/11, it’s only a high of 96 degrees, it’s a lot of things today. It’s also a day that I am overwhelmed with intimidation and discouragement.

I don’t spend a lot of time visiting other people’s blogs. I try to keep my artistic influences very tight. In all vulnerability I stick to the blogs that make me feel like I can do it, like I can make it the photography world. I’ve said before that all my favorite photographers humble me and make me feel like I can be just as good. A couple of the blogs I do follow are Donald Miller (though not a photographer) and Alex Beadon. This morning I recieved notifications that both had new posts. This is nearly a daily occurrence with Alex Beadon, she’s a very admirably devoted blogger.

Donald Miller’s post was about my second favorite photographer Jeremy Cowart’s recent “Fears vs Dreams” campaign. He talked about Jeremy Cowart’s bold move from Nashville to L.A. which happened just last month. He talked about how Jeremy Cowart didn’t just move, he turned it into a way for others who relate to his transition and gave them the opportunity to share their fears. Jeremy Cowart did this by joining with Jamie Tworkowski from To Write Love on her Arms  and going on a cross country caravan, stopping in various places, setting up a booth, asking people to sum up their fears vs their dreams on a piece of paper, then taking a picture of it. Donald Miller’s post also included the following video.

This left me on the verge of tears. Had the video contained images of people holding their signs with their fears and dreams, I would have broken down for sure.

This post was all the more powerful as I was just struggling with discouragement yesterday. The “I don’t think I can do this” feeling and I are far from strangers. I don’t feel this discouragement very often, but when I feel it, I feel it pretty strong.

Alex Beadon is a very talented photographer, an incredible artist, and a very inspiring writer. She’s broken “the tie” and become my third favorite photographer. I just haven’t had a chance to right the post about her yet.  I read her blog post and found some sincerely encouraging words written inside. Words about believing in yourself and knowing that you can make it. It was definitely part of what I needed right now.

You see, today I am struggling with the fear of quitting my job. Which will hopefully (God willing) happen in about a year. I haven’t ever shared on this blog that I also have another full time job. As well as being a full time photographer, I am also a full time Correctional Officer (A.K.A. Prison Guard). I so badly want to leave that job. It is sincerely not who I am. I am suffocating the minute I put on the uniform. But regardless of how I feel, I put on my boots, drive out, walk through the gates, into the concrete walls, and hold my breath as I tell myself “Just get through the day. This is how you provide for your family.”  Then I pray, “Lord please protect me and my partners. Please keep us safe. Thank you that, though I don’t like this job, You have given it to me. And I will walk through these gates and honor you, as I work.” However, this job still has nearly zero personal fulfillment in it. There’s far from any creative opportunity. I’m just a drone, I’m just a uniform, a badge, and I’m far from the unique individual I know I am inside.

Photography allows me to be who I am. I’m creative and I love people. I love being a positive part of people’s lives. And it’s an incredible blessing to be with people on the biggest day of their lives. I love being responsible for the preservation of the day’s memories. I see their day as very precious, and I see the day just as important as they do. It’s an incredible blessing to capture their day, show them the photos, and watch their tears as they relive the best day of their life. I don’t think there are many occupations that provide that type of fulfillment. And Creative Portraiture is my medium for expressing myself. It’s a tool for the ideas in my head to come to life. Photography allows me to be the unique individual that I know I am inside.

I fear quitting my job to pursue my dream of being a Wedding Photographer and Creative Portrait Artist for an over whelming amount of reasons. But the biggest logical fear is financial security. I would go from a set and (mostly) guaranteed income, to estimating this years income based on last years “numbers”.

But the real fear, the one that causes the pain in my stomach, the one that makes it hard to buy the ad, to buy the website, to do the bridal show, to email that band, to email that new contact I made, to do the photo shoot, and to pick up the camera. The fear that destroys me with it’s subtle comments in my head, “What if I fail? What if I’m just not a good enough photographer? What if I’ve just gotten lucky in all these other shoots and this will be the one that I fail big time? What if I am just not good enough to cut it?” That’s what I’m afraid of. I am afraid that unique individual I know I am inside is not good enough to make it. I’m afraid that all the voices, real and imagined, that say, “it would be stupid to quit such an easy and well paying job to pursue a hobby” are right.

I pray about this business a lot. I mean more than daily. One thing that I’ve learned, and I am certain of, is that I can trust God. He has a plan, and I can trust that plan. I’ve learned that His plan comes before mine. His plan is greater than my plan. So I pray that when I do quit, that I would know when it would be according to His timing and His plan.

One final thought. Something that gives me hope, and gives me joy, is knowing that even if I do fail, even if I have to stay at the prison until retirement, God loves me for the unique individual I know I am inside. That brings me joy. That brings me hope.

Thanks a lot for letting me share with you. I hope you express your heart in some way today.

God Bless You,
-Adam Allen

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Jo Julia Ramsey - (*note) And now that I’ve read it – even though you are being honest about your fear, I have full faith in you (and Sarah!) to totally rock this. How crazy exciting for you guys!! This is what life is about!!!!!

Jo Julia Ramsey - AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! About time!!!!!!! I only saw your hand written not in your pic so far, but that is so freaking COOL!!!!!!!

Sarah Allen - Great honest post. Love you 🙂

Jeff Brandt - On your worst day you’re better than most.

Stacey Moua - The unknown is what scare us. If you never give it a chance, you will never know what you are able to achieve. You’re a great photographer and will do fine.

Eggo Waffles - I battle with these questions all the time; “what if I’m not good enough, what if I never make it?” In an industry (post-production/audio engineering) where only a small percentage even matters how much talent you have, and instead a huge percentage of who you know, I also wonder “what if I never meet the right connections?” etc. It’s hard to not discouraged sometimes… However, I’d rather spend my entire life chasing my dreams, than play it safe and settle for less.

Carli Morgan - And Adam, that’s from experience.

Lynn Sepeda - We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do

Patricia - Powerful from within. God has ur plan. Must be patient and wait in HIS time. Blessings friend await you

Carli Morgan - The worst than can happen in life is that we fail, THEN don’t learn anything from it. Failure is not the bottom. Ignorance is.

Christina - Adam, I really understand where you are coming from, because we went through the same thing a few years ago. That leap is terrifying! The only advice I can really give you that you don’t mention, is to put away enough money for the first year so that if you don’t bring anything in from the photography, that you still can make it. I think you are a very talented photographer, as well as your wife. Only you, Sarah, and God know the answer to this. God Bless You!

Anahy Ruelas - That was touching. I can definitely understand your fears. Everyone has them, but not everyone will admit it. I trust that you will make the best decision. Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth W - Adam Allen,
For what it’s worth, I think your heart is right. God will answer and provide. He ALWAYS provides. 🙂