How I Overcame My Greatest Weakness

A quick note before we get started: I wrote this post by accident. I sat down to write a post about something entirely different, and ended up with this. I'm not sure how it happened, to be honest. A fair warning that this post will probably come off as cliche or lame or what have you. I don't care. It's about something that's very important to me, and I am sure other people struggle with the same thing. So take out of this what you will, but at least approach it with an open mind. This is more like a diary entry than a blog post, but I think it's worth sharing, and I'm damn proud of what I've accomplished thus far. That being said, I hope you enjoy this and that you can get something from it.

Hello. My name is Ryan and I'm boring.

I'm shy. I'm a creature of habit. I rarely get out of my comfort zone - in photography and in life.

A couple of months ago, I vowed to do something about it. I had just started taking photos regularly again, and I found myself doing the same stuff I was before I went on "hiatus" and I knew I needed to do something different if I was going to stick to photography for good.

I started putting myself out there, and breaking out of my comfort zone and try some new things. I reached out to a few different people offering up my services as a budding photographer in exchange for photo credit and experience - nothing else. And I'm incredibly glad I did. It allowed me to get invaluable experience, reveal my weaknesses as a photographer, and get my name out there.

It also forced me to work with people, which I had never done, when it comes to photography. Being in that unfamiliar territory caused me worry.

I worry about everything. But I know that it often gets in the way of my success. If I was going to provide these nice people with my best work possible, I knew that I would have to push past that uncomfortable feeling and not worry about what could go wrong. If not, I'd be second-guessing myself and I'd never get the shots I needed. I wasn't taking photos just for me, anymore. I had people who were counting on me. I had to figure this out.

So I tried this tactic:

Anytime I felt nervous about taking photos in an unfamiliar environment or talking to people I didn't know, I had to tell myself to [earmuffs] "Just fucking do it." 

My deepest apologies to my grandparents for using foul language, but that's what I had to tell myself in order overcome the shyness and worry that was keeping from reaching my potential. And it worked. Better than I could have ever imagined.

It not only affected how I approached photo "jobs", but also how I approached situations at work and in life. I had to force myself to stop worrying so much, and just DO the thing I needed to do. Worrying gets you nowhere. It wastes time and energy, and it kills your confidence. Overcoming that worry has allowed me to gain experience, put myself in situations to be successful, and it has made my life better.

It was extremely fulfilling being scared shitless about doing something, smothering that fear and just doing it anyway, and coming out victorious. Even small accomplishments made me feel like a million bucks, because I know that I made myself do it, and I did a great job, just like I knew I would.

I used to worry a lot, and let me tell you, worrying less and "doing" more makes life so much easier. I've learned to just "go with the flow" (cliche, I know) by just dealing with whatever happens, rather than worrying about what could happen.

So if you're like me, and you worry about everything, and it's holding you back, just tell yourself to "Just fucking do it". It's really hard. I'm not going to lie. It's uncomfortable and scary and it seems impossible at first. But once you get that first small victory, it gets so much easier. 

My Story

For me, the tipping point was the first meeting with my first ever "clients" - I call them clients, but I wasn't getting paid for my work, which is fine. I still treated the job with the same level of professionalism as I would if I was getting paid. I knew their time was extremely valuable, and I didn't want to waste it by doing anything less than my absolute best.

Anyway, a few days before that meeting, I was terrified. I made it clear to them that I didn't have a ton of experience with this kind of thing, but still, I didn't want to disappoint them. I had a million questions flying around in my head: What if they don't like my work? What if I can't get the shot that they want? What if I struggle during the shoot? Will they think I don't know what I'm doing?

...Okay, that's not a million, but there were a lot. It was very nerve-wracking, and I felt like I couldn't go through with it.

About an hour before that meeting I realized how ridiculous I was being. Worrying about all of that stuff isn't helping me. If anything, it's going to make me second-guess everything. Stop being a baby, and just show up and be yourself.

Be 100% honest, smile, be polite, and be confident. 

Just fucking do it

Leaving that meeting, I felt invincible. It was only a simple 15-minute meet-and-greet to talk about general ideas, but to me, it meant so much more. I proved to myself that I could do the one thing I had been dreading for days - and do a damn good job.

After that, everything got easier. Everything. I had finally figured out how to relieve all the worry I had surrounding anything that was unfamiliar to me. It made me realize that things are going to happen how they're going to happen regardless of if I spend hours thinking about the possible scenarios beforehand. So that is all wasted time. The best I can do is attack the situation with confidence, and deal with anything that may come, in stride.

Sure, some things didn't go super well during that shoot a few weeks later. The lighting was terrible, and my camera didn't handle it well. I couldn't get some shots, because I would be in the way of what was going on. But I made adjustments, worked with what I had, used my skills and knowledge, and I came out with some photos that we were both very happy with.

I know that if I had not made a conscious decision to worry less and do more that I would not have been able to follow through with that shoot. I probably would have come up with some excuse not to show up to that first meeting and apologize for not being able to make it.

Instead, I just fucking did it

I worked really hard, I had a great time, I got some excellent experience, and I got exposure which will hopefully lead to more opportunities to make myself uncomfortable.

But that's a good thing! Because that is when the most growth occurs, I have found - when we challenge ourselves the most.

If you've made it this far, thank you for bearing with me. I know I've been repeating the same thing over and over, but I really can't stress enough how important it was for me to figure out how to stop worrying and start doing. If you are held back by your own worry, I hope I've shown that you can overcome that, just as I have. It has truly changed me as a person, and I'm looking forward to my next opportunity. 

Whatever that next challenge may be, I'm going to just fucking do it.