I am no stranger to failure.
Okay, it has been a freakin' wild time to be graduating college, starting a business right off the bat, and deciding to adopt a tripod Pitbull who has a problem with singing the song of his people at 7:00 AM every morning. Identity crisis? We've all been there.
Fall 2021 hit. I was a Creative Writing major at Florida State University, often with less than $100 in my account, and all the bills to pay. My parents were getting divorced, my sister had just moved up to Tallahassee too, and I had two rescue dogs I loved more than myself, to care for. I had worked all over Tallahassee, my now-hometown. (Well, I claim this town as my home as opposed to the central Florida city, he-who-should-not-be-named.) I was tired, dragging my feet, and finally somehow feeling a twinge of inspiration creatively. I finished all my prerequisites and my advisor failed to put me in any of my major courses before senior year. It was a hell of a senior year. I came out filled with this joy of being a college graduate, a creative writer, and literally could not figure out what else I was. The thing about college: You just sign up for classes and you take them. You balance life on your own, you party, you make friends if you are lucky, and you study. But nothing is teaching you to learn about you. Who even are you and where are you going to take you? Where do you want to go?
I had filled out all the graduate school applications. My reference letters were in. My tax documents prepped. Cover letters written for each school on my Google sheets page. EVERYTHING checked off.
But for the life of me, I *swear* to you, could not press submit.
So I didn't. I went to teach high school English at 21 to kids at my high school back in central Florida. (Yeah, terrible decision.) Hated it. Lasted a month. Finally quit.
Then I went to work for a news station in Tallahassee in journalism, the same time Roe V. Wade was being overturned. Did NOT last long for me either.
I was lost. I had no identity. Was I a writer? Was photography a hobby? Should I go into insurance and hate my 9 to 5? What do I DO? I would rather serve enchiladas until 2:00 AM than continue on the path I was on. I started to see this potential for creative freelance, for independence. But I wasn't sure how, and most importantly, why, that was the best move for me because I was constantly putting myself in positions that went against everything my skills and personality demanded.
I started a business. I took myself seriously. I remembered how much I loved telling stories, and creating a legacy, a tangible heirloom, a memory. Most of my favorite memories are savored in photos. My worst days end in me scrolling old albums. I wanted to create portrait sessions into memories people can cherish - a couple being proposed to, a brand launching off, a baby coming into the world... And if I can make them laugh and relaxed while I capture them revealing their identity to me?
Yea, that's a superpower in my book. I wanted to find a way to create memories.
The #1 thing that is vital to any brand is identity. If you can not reason out why you *personally* are focused in on something, are standing behind a belief, why you are personally involved in an effort, you WILL fail.
You have to be okay with you. And that means okay with failing. A lot. So many startups do not see a solid ROI until a five, six, even seven years into the company's formation and performance. If you have not fought over and over with yourself and come to the same conclusion with why you love something and how it affects you, your line of work is just that - a line. of. work. Not a passion.
I hated seeing my parents feel so torn down by their day job. It drained them. It drained their personal drive and fire, it took away their desire to prevail against the odds stacked so high in their way. That is how my generation has changed the future already - self care and self identity.
I want to dig into what identity means for you, for me, for a brand, next week in part two. It is so vital to understand what identity even means in those contexts, and more so what the strength of your identity can do for your monetization and brand culture. Everything overlaps. It's time to see the problems, catch them early, and soar higher than before.
Thanks for coming along to my introduction. I'll see you soon.