Post college lessons
It's been while since I've written something personal on here, but then again, that's usually how I do these things. Today seemed like a great day to finally process the season that I'm in now and reflect on what the Lord has been teaching me recently.
There's never been such a weird, nostalgic, defeating, yet exciting time as college ending. As some of you might know, I actually graduated this past December from Clemson University a semester early, but rather than moving out and moving on immediately after graduating, I ended up still living in Clemson throughout this spring and worked my part time job of the past two years at Anthropologie, invested in my photography, applied for corporate jobs, and prayed really hard about where the heck my life was heading.
I don't think I fully processed (and definitely still haven't completely processed) the fact that I am done with college and my time at the special place that is Clemson University. Don't get me wrong, I was more than happy to be done with classes and have freedom from school work, but graduating from Clemson in December and then still living in Clemson was not the easy, happy go lucky time I imagined it would be. You see, it's hard to find your place in a college world full of people going to classes and being involved in Clemson organizations and studying together all of the time and living amongst people you know who are in that kind of world when you are technically in the (semi) real world. Going to work everyday, driving the majority of the places you go versus walking on campus, and going to bed early most nights doesn't make for the best schedule to hang out with your friends still in college. On top of this confusing season of trying to find my place in between the college and adult worlds was the daunting task of applying for jobs.
Having majored in possibly the most broad subject ever (Communication), I had no idea what I was doing when it came time to start applying for jobs. The Lord truly used the months of January through March after I graduated to humble the heck out of me as I applied for fifty or so jobs that I either got a rejection from, never heard back from, or interviewed for and ended up not getting the job. This season of applying for a job is one I was not emotionally or mentally prepared for, and it was exhausting to fill out applications, write cover letters, find applications, email people, and edit my resume over and over again for so many positions when I was having absolutely no luck finding a job. Something I don't really talk a lot about is my success in school, and it was more than humbling and frustrating and disappointing to be in a position of graduating at the top of my class from Clemson but have no luck finding any kind of corporate position that I knew I was smart enough for as well as qualified for with my previous experience and skill sets.
The pressure of wanting to live with friends who already had acquired jobs, trying to make plans for the coming months, and being fearful of what the quickly approaching future might have in store for me gave me an anxiety like I've never experienced before.
I couldn't see it then, but the Lord was actually acting in my favor by closing the many doors (actually more like slamming the many doors) shut right in my face.
Back in December, after graduating, one of my close friends asked me to shoot her wedding which is this upcoming September (S/O to you Alex Rousseaux). I had no idea if I was ready to start booking my own weddings yet. I have been second shooting weddings with amazingly talented photographers who are now some of my great friends for over a year, but at that time when I was encouraged by many of those photographers to say yes to her, I had no expectations for my photography this year. You see in my head I had this plan that I would get a cool corporate job in the communication field to give me financial security and a social life with other young working people, and I would just shoot a couple weddings here or there by myself and then maybe one day my low key dream of being able to be a full time wedding photographer would just happen and it would be the right time to go for it. But the thing is, that plan of mine required almost no trust or expectation from the Lord to move in ways only he can move.
I learned through the job application (and rejection) process, as well as this plan of mine having to change, that the reason I was so frustrated, disappointed, and feeling like a failure was because I was placing all of my future success on my own shoulders, attributes, and capabilities. And when I didn't get any of the jobs I wanted and my plan wasn't going to work out, I realized that that the reason I wasn't getting a job wasn't because I'm not smart enough, or I didn't have the right qualifications, or it wasn't a good fit for me. I realized that I needed to really look to the Lord and ask Him to show me what He was trying to do in my life instead of trying to work really hard to make what I think should happen work out for myself.
When I stopped trying to make things happen for myself, and I asked God to show me where He was moving in my life and open my eyes to see where He would have me go, to reveal how He would like to use me to serve others and use my gifts and talents to glorify Him, I saw things that were happening right in front of me that my distracted and selfish eyes couldn't see previously.
I saw the way He was paving for me after years and years of doing photography and dreaming to be able to do what I'm gifted to do straight out of college. He was giving me opportunities, allowing me to save money, placing friendships and partnerships with other photographers in my life, and building my confidence up in the talents He's given me to use to serve others and glorify Him. And it left me realizing that I couldn't take credit for any of those things that were happening, for any of the wedding inquiries, or job opportunities because all of this time I had been so fearful, insecure, and distracted by my own plan that I wasn't even using my time to intentionally further my photography business strategically. It wasn't me working things out this time, it was Him.
Even though I saw the ways the Lord was moving in my life and in my photography business, giving me wedding inquiries, senior sessions, allowing me to buy more advanced equipment way sooner than I anticipated, and so many more things, it was still scary to take the jump and fully trust that if I listened to the direction I felt like the Lord was calling me into having my own photography business that things would be okay. I still had (and sometimes still have) fears about not being able to provide for myself, not being good enough in this industry, disappointing clients, or not being able to meet or be around new people my age being self employed. But there came a day when I decided to stop letting fear control my decisions and to really truly trust that if the Lord is working this out, then He is going to honor and bless my obedience to Him both in my personal life and also in my professional life. At this time in April, I was in the process of interviewing for a corporate job in Greenville that I had applied for and heard nothing from back in January. I was in my third round of interviewing but I just didn't have a peace about taking this job and having enough time to grow and pursue my photography business the way I wanted to. So I decided to trust the conviction I felt and respectfully turned down the opportunity, and that same day I ended up booking four amazing weddings.
I say all this to share that I've experienced first hand the Lord's goodness, His mercy, His grace, His abundance, His provision, and so so so much more throughout this transition season into adulthood and out of college. And I'm SO excited to go boldly, yet humbly, intentionally, and trusting in His provision and goodness to know my heart so sweetly and to bless me with an opportunity I have done nothing to deserve right now to purse wedding photography and carry out my own business.
Last night, as I got to shoot a wedding with my favorite and most trusted photographer friend for two of the sweetest people I know from Clemson, I couldn't help but smile the entire time I was taking pictures of the bridal party getting ready, the bride and groom laughing with their friends, their friends and family praying over them, watching the sweet tears that flowed, and everyone tearing it up on the dance floor having the best time ever celebrating two of the best people they know becoming one as husband and wife. It's just such a privilege to get to carry bouquets, coordinate people, and take pictures of both the simple and extravagant moments on two people's special day. It isn't always easy, but I'm so glad this gets to be my job now.
So with that being said, I will run with eyes open to how the Lord is moving in this time, into this future of post college and adulthood and the unknown. God has been so faithful and kind to bless me even when I couldn't see how He was working and wasn't always thankful when all of the other doors were being shut in my face. All good things take time, patience, and most of all trust. I'm so very thankful to have learned hard lessons in this season so that I could be sharpened and prepared to go into adulthood and this new venture confident in who He has made me to be and what He has made me to do.