The other day, someone close to me in my life offered an incredibly encouraging and beautiful word to me. Amongst many of the things said during our conversation, one was that I had a special “gift” for photography. It was lovely to hear, and being as attuned as I am to words of affirmation, I was elated at the comment… however, I don’t entirely agree with it.
I don’t necessarily believe that we each have a “special” gift, and I think that way of thinking is especially scary if you want to make an impact on the world around you.
Rather than saying that I believe each of us has a gift - which, is to some degree, very true - I believe that each of us is given beautiful opportunities that we can choose to work hard at and grow and bring to life and establish a positive impact on the world around us, at large scale and small scale, in the quiet moments and the chaotic.
Where do gifts come from? How are we molded and shaped and grown? I believe it is many things, and much more so nature than nurture, that leads each one of us to have passion, a gift, a life and love to chase after for our days spent rotating around the sun. What I don’t believe is that it is necessarily inherent at birth, and what I don’t believe even more than that, is that if you have a gift, it will automatically manifest itself, become your life, become your passion.
I chased that idea for too long to think that I could EVER sit around and wait for my passion to become my life… that I could wait for my life’s purpose to come to me. I actually used to drive around until 2, 3, 4 am thinking that “fate” or whatever would intervene in my life, I would find my purpose as a creator, I would make a million dollars and my life would be perfect.
That is wrong, but that is the way so many of us think or have thought.
The difficulty with with believing we have a gift to share with the world isn’t that we don’t truly have a gift - it’s that we, more often than not, don’t recognize it, grow it, and share it with the world.
Waiting around for your passion to come to you is like waiting for your dinner to cook itself, waiting for your passion to grow is like hoping for the dinner to cook itself for you and 5 people, and waiting for your passion to make you successful and fulfilled in your life’s calling is like that food cooking and feeding itself to you and 5 other people, then doing the dishes and keeping the leftovers in the fridge. You get the idea.
Your passion is not waiting for you. You are waiting for your passion, and you need to stop.
“But I don’t have anything important to share with the world.”
“But I’m just 16 years old”
“But I’m 65”
“But there’s school. There’s work. There’s family.”
“But I don’t have _________________________”
I don’t care about your “but,” and neither does your future.
I used to think that I could never have a positive impact on the world around me, because when I first started creating things, I didn’t feel I led an extraordinary life. Still, now, I don’t feel like I do - I feel instead, like I fill my world with extraordinary people, experiences, thoughts, and love. And that is only because instead of waiting for my passion to come to me, I spend every waking hour I can working on it, growing it, and sharing it with others.
We are only made extraordinary people by the action we take to become extraordinary. By the radical way we love people through what we create - art, music, photos, poetry, buildings, designs, gardens, relationships. There is no amount of waiting that will EVER replace hard work, dedication, and commitment to your passion. Passion is everything.
You and I are not extraordinary, but it is our challenge in life to do things that are. The only way we will ever get there is by doing,
and we are never done.
The ONLY difference between you and someone who is extraordinary is that they worked extraordinarily hard to get there. They overcame fear, they banished laziness, they cut “luck” out of their lives and didn’t let their successes come to them - instead, they went out and got them.
Annie Leibovitz shot thousands of photos.
Steve Jobs persisted in innovation.
Michael Phelps swam more laps than you ever will in your life.
Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream.
Jesus loved people when it was nearly impossible to do so.
You… YOU worked harder at your passion than anyone around you ever will… and you’re going to make it, because that’s the only thing separating you from who you are now and who you want to be.
Did each of these people have an inherent gift? Maybe, maybe not - that's not the point. the point is that these people all worked incredibly hard to get where they wanted to go - to create a gift for themselves or grow the gift they already had.
We become that which we do, so do it with love, do it well, and do it more, better, more beautifully than you or anyone you know has ever done it before. It is only by extraordinary action, persistence, commitment, and love that we can become extraordinary.
A PRO-PHOTOGRAPHER'S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE:
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I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.