How my business helped me leave my comfort zone

If someone told me a few years ago that I’d be doing what I am doing today, I would have laughed. Not believing it for a second. Prior to running my own business, I never felt fulfilled with what my day to day life looked like. I felt stuck, unmotivated and my mental health was not the best. This started to change as soon as I started working for myself. I still struggle with some things, as we all do, but I’m more fulfilled than ever before. It’s not for everyone, often working alone and not having a boss who holds you accountable for getting things done, but it 100% is the best way for me. 

My business growth is very much connected to my own growth, and that was the motivation I needed to dare to give this everything I have. When I started in Brighton two years ago, I had no contacts, and I lived half an hour outside the town centre. It felt like I was starting with nothing but hope and a dream; however, that turned out to be enough. I knew that I’d have to try to get my name out there, something that has always scared me. I didn’t even create a Facebook page for my photography at first, because I was scared of what people would think, even though most of my facebook friends most likely didn’t even think anything of it. 

 Theo @ Nii Agency

Theo @ Nii Agency

But the truth is, to get forward we have to put ourselves in situations we find uncomfortable. Despite that our instincts are telling us not to, it’s deep in the human mind to try to be on the safe side. I think I accepted that I’d have to do things that scare me when I decided to go full time as a photographer, as that itself was nerve wrecking, and after almost two years, I still do things that scare me weekly. To give you some examples, I thought I’d mention a few things that used to intimidate me:

- Making bold moves and take risks. My first bold move was to move to England initially, but I spent a year working a few different jobs, before deciding to go self employed and rely on photography for my income. How I begun this, with a savings account that was much smaller than when I arrived in England, was by working and living in a hostel to avoid having to pay rent. I’d never slept in a hostel before, let alone in a room full of 15 strangers. It definitely wasn’t easy, but it allowed me to not spend the majority of my days stuck inside an office space putting all of my energy there. It allowed me to get a thicker skin, and to know that I will be okay without the comfort and security I had had up until this point in my life.

- Approaching and talking to people. With my background of social anxiety, the thought of ever setting foot at a networking event felt far away. Today, meeting people is one of my favourite parts about my business. I’ve chosen to photograph people as my niche, because it’s something that always excites me. Network events still sometimes feel intimidating, but I would never let it stop me. I love connecting with new people, and I’m so grateful for the network of female creatives I’ve met through my photography. 

- Believing in myself. Investing pretty much all of my savings into photography, without any kind of degree or diploma, with knowledge that’s only come from me playing around with my camera by myself, was just as scary as it sounds. A few people back home definitely wondered what on earth I was doing with my life, quitting school, moving abroad to pursue a dream to work in a highly competitive field with little security financially. Yet, I knew that it’s what I’m meant to be doing right now. Everything else felt like it was holding me back. 

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There are things I’m still working on when it comes to my comfort zone and growth, daily. But in a way, that’s the beauty of it, seeing how my work grows with me. Believing and investing more and more into my business, and therefore in myself. One of the reasons I’m sharing this, is to show that it is normal to be scared. It is normal to put off taking risks and big steps forward, but it’s so worth doing it. The quality of my life now compared to before going freelance is huge, even on days where I don’t wake up fully motivated. One thing that inspires me is to have open and authentic conversations about everything behind the scenes of what we see on Instagram, so with this I’m hoping to open a conversation. Even posting this blog post feels intimidating to me, because I’m not used to being this open online. As a photographer it is easy to hide behind my images, but one of my goals for 2019 will be to show up more as a person as well. It’s all about expanding what you’re comfortable with, and not letting your mind hold you back. 

Thank you for reading!

- Felicia 

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