New Year, Same Me, But Braver
“I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”― Georgia O'Keefe
I couldn’t begin to ring in the adventures of a new year without first thinking of the journey that 2021 gave to me. What a year, especially for Manda Jean Photography. After 13 years of shooting, side-hustling, and sacrificing, I decided it was finally time to invest in myself, FULLY. I took the proverbial leap, dove off the edge and left behind my nine to five back in August.
“I will not stay, not ever again - in a room or conversation or relationship or institution that requires me to abandon myself.” -Glennon Doyle
I’ve always worked multiple jobs, relied on different streams of income, and kept it safe. If I’m being completely honest, I was always too scared to commit, to channel all my focus and energy into one thing, especially myself. But "nothing good ever comes from your comfort zone." It was time to stop caring what others would think, and silence the "I'm not good enough" bullshit that we are conditioned to believe.
So it's a new year, same me, but braver. Twenty twenty two will be the very first year that I have only one job and that’s being a photographer for my own company. A business that I started over a decade ago (while still at school developing film and shooting chrome color slide) has finally been taken off the back burner. I kept it there for all these years because I was terrified of trying to make it work, of forcing myself to pick just one title and of boxing myself in. Many people who know me know that I’ve never been a content kind of creature...always bouncing and circling and dipping my toes into every next thing, wanting to try it out.
I’m still that person, I always will be. But I’m working on myself, my mindset, and my mental health. I’ve decided to accept the chaos that I am and contort it in the most creative ways possible. The thing about being an artist is that you need to create in order to feel. So I decided to make that my job and create art with my clients, with my kids, and with myself. Because that is who I am. I am an artist who sees things and feels things and needs things that many others don't. And that is okay.
I know there are still going to be days where I wish to be someone else, maybe someone who jogs five miles every morning or who puts labels on clear bins in their pantry or maybe someone who can just find their god damn keys. But that’s not me. All I can do is try to be the best version of myself. Show my kids that it's okay to be hungry, to want everything there is to want, as long as you're willing to work for it. Not being content isn’t a curse, it’s a driving force behind everything I’ve ever done and will do.
So here’s to 2022. Let us be ourselves, be kind, and be absolutely and unapologetically unstoppable.