September 17, 2015

Some things I shouldn’t tell you, but I will anyways…

Blogging is something I have been doing since 2008, aka when the internet was a lot more vacant that it is now. My previous blog, She Smiles, She Writes was based on my faith journey—documenting my steps of faith from attending school in FL to dating/getting engaged/married  and going on a mission’s trip to Calcutta, India. As I transitioned into my new role as a wife, I lost my voice. I found refuge in my journals but I abandoned my outlet of transparency, the window to the world that told me I was not alone. Fast forward a year later and here I am, starting a photography business. I was praying about what sort of direction to have with this blog and I realized that all I need to do is be me. All of me. The faith, the quirkiness, the flaws—it’s all part of who I am and what gives me vision to capture. So here are 5 things about myself I shouldn’t tell you, but I will anyways.

1. I’m shy… and I’m also an introvert. 

Basically I belong in an office, typing away my life in the middle of nowhere. Instead, God has asked me to work at a Coffee Shop, start a photography business and be in leadership at my church. I’m interacting with people 24/7 and it makes me cringe just thinking about it. But I have also discovered that if I set some time for myself, I can be content and love where I am.

2. Time Management is not my forté. 

Can I make a confession? My husband is the time management king. He can get a week’s worth of to-do lists in a day. I, on the other hand, think that to-do lists are tools of torture. I would rather vacuum or do homework (all spontaneously, by the way) rather than sit down and write things I need to do, AND cross them out after I do them in order. Yeah, no. Not my thing. However, I have solved the problem for myself. I write 5 tasks I want to accomplish in a week or a day, and I allow myself to do 3 of the 5. I don’t always do them in a day but for the most part I get them done. As I cross off things to do, I add. I’m proud to say those baby steps have helped me be a better person and my sanity is intact. Time management is a lifesaver when you are in charge of usher+greeters, leading worship, caring for a husky & cat (somehow we ended with the most high maintenance pets), working long barista hours, full time student, part time photographer & happily married. Hard but not impossible.

3. Out of everything I do, ministry is the hardest. 

This is something I have had to come to terms with. There’s bad leadership everywhere and unfortunately it’s often found in the church. From pastors who are bullies to people who are simply unreliable, I have seen it all. It get’s so messy, that I understand why people quit on Christianity altogether. I’m here to tell you, don’t. My husband and I pride ourselves in always making time for people and including them into the family (that’s what this is all about!). Ministry is hard but Jesus is so kind. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Seek Him in the midst of the chaos and you will soon see that circumstances & others won’t define you.

4. I often feel like a failure.

How can I not? I compare myself to the success of others (keyword here being success) and I am my own worst critic. Not to mention the perfectionist tendencies I struggle with. Gosh, I’m a mess! There’s times I go to bed thinking, “It’s too hard, I want to give up!” but I don’t. Sometimes we need to come back to a place where we recognize why we do what we do and only then can we move forward. Don’t compare your work or who you are to anyone else! You are on your own journey. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, retreat and regroup.

5. What I do is not who I am.

There was a point in starting a photography business that I felt very hollow. I was looking for ways to run the business successfully but nothing really stuck. I didn’t want to book the prettiest people and shoot the way the top photographers are currently shooting. I wanted something else. Yes, I want to capture people who value love and authenticity above anything else, but I also want to know the struggles and stories behind who I photograph. The business tips were pointing me to the opposite direction I wanted to go. So I prayed about my business. The answer came: you are not what you do. “Oh ok, thanks God but that’s not what I asked about,” I thought. Then it made sense. These successful people I was looking up to had put their identity on their branding and business. They were their success. I found freedom in knowing that with or without a camera in my hands, I am still valuable. That if I shoot 5 weddings instead of 8, I am still valuable. That in me being successful has nothing to do with putting my heart, soul and mind into being  a photographer and neglecting everything else. I will put all my efforts to be excellent but not because I have to—but because I don’t have to (oxymoron?).  Simply put: I don’t have to fit a mold to be successful. That my success can be defined by me putting all that I am into this without immediate results or rich, ideal clients that are fully sold to my vision and products. No, that’s not the success I want. I want to be known by my honesty, transparency, approachability and willingness to take challenges to tell the stories of the people around me. I want to be successful because I recognize that I’m not what I do and that there’s more to life than being a professional photographer. That gives me the freedom to shoot relentlessly.

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  1. says:

    Wow! This is why I’ve always loved you! So wise, as always Ashley. I find much of my heart resonated here as well. We should catch up soon! I look forward to seeing what God does through your life and all areas of ministry.

  2. says:

    I love this and relate so much to your story! I’d love to meet up someday soon and learn from you! <3

  3. Thank you so much for sharing a part of yourself with us. I can completely relate to #1. I am also shy and an introvert. I went to college and undergrad thinking that I would end up working in a lab for the rest of my life… minimal interaction. But the Lord has not blessed me with a job in my field yet. Instead, he placed me in a bank as a teller. Like the coffee shop, I also have to interact with with people ALL the time. It’s draining at times, but I am grateful for the opportunity to get out of the shell I had created for myself. I am a little more outgoing now. God knew what He was doing. 🙂