“STOP thinking of your dreams as opportunities,” she said.”But as obligations.”
I think my stomach found a pair of scissors, cut a hole in the bottom of my chair and just dropped out onto the floor of the Fillmore in DC right then and there last Thursday afternoon. I was so excited to for the chance to hear Mary and Justin Marantz speak again after I attended their Lighting Intensive last fall. Mary is an absolutely inspiring speaker, and Justin is a photographic genius. I was ready to have Mary spit some motivation at me and build me up for the new year and get ready to tackle all of my goals, YEA! But now that I was here, listening to these words, I wasn’t so sure. It seemed like every syllable she spoke was pointed right in my direction, shining a spotlight on my hopes and dreams—and right on my fears.
That’s not for me. I thought. Who am I to label my dreams as obligations? Who am I to want all of that? But that Mary Marantz, the amazing speaker, woman, and photographer that she is, she was two steps ahead of me. “We go about our lives speaking things to ourselves that we would never fathom speaking to others. Things like, ‘OK, but who am I to want this?'” I looked up to the stage, terrified that someone had hooked my brain up to one of those scrolling billboards and now all of my fear was being advertised to this room full of DC photographers. But she was right, I would never listen to someone gush their biggest and deepest dreams to me and reply with the soul-crushing response that they would never be enough. And yet, here I am, doing this to myself every day.
There is an entire small tribe of people in my life who have sacrificed for me. Who have gone with less in the name of my dreams. They go by the name of Mom, Dad, Sisters, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts. My parents did not choose to go with less for themselves while working demanding full-time jobs and making it a point to never miss one of my soccer games so that I could chase my dreams. They did all of this so that I could live my dreams. And Mary is right, if I don’t accept my dream as an obligation, as an acknowledgement and as an unending “thank you” to those times that these people in my life have done more for me, or gone with less for me, then I am dishonoring those sacrifices.
And this is how the afternoon turned into the evening: with Mary sharing truths like nobody’s business and me frantically trying to get it all down in my notebook, which is now about 15 pages fuller. I don’t know if you’re a photographer or even a member of the wedding industry, but if you ever have the opportunity to hear Mary and Justin speak, TAKE IT! My What’s Next, along with few more measurable goals, is to start living my dreams as though I’m contractually obligated to live them. And I’ll love every minute of it.
What’s your What’s Next?