"Be careful what you wish for..."
That is one of the refrains that has been drilled into my head since the beginning of time. A caution, a warning. Don’t ask for something you don’t really want. Watch your words, they hold more power than you realize.
I think instead of a warning this refrain should be rephrased “Be ready for what you wish for…”
Let me tell you why.
When I think back to everything I’ve ever really wanted, wished for, prayed for, I got it, one way or another. Even the craziest one of all which I will tell you about some day and you might think it a simple coincidence but I know I willed it into being. But even after all of this I still doubt the ability to self-manifest.
A little over a year ago I bought a semi-professional camera. I wanted to take pictures, good pictures. I wanted to capture emotions, action, to compliment my words with images to tell moving stories. Capture things that might not be noticed in the moment. I spent hours at my favorite bookstore in Berkeley and read guides, manuals, and then came home and watched YouTube tutorials for hours. For several months I was obsessed. Then I stopped.
I felt like a phony. Who did I think I was to be a photographer? Maybe I didn’t really have a knack, a creative eye. Self doubt, always trying to ruin my plans. I fought it off a little bit then gave in and my camera sat on my bookshelf with a row of books i’ve read and re read and now only look at and admire.
Recently I got the courage to take it up again and revisited the idea of being someone who could take good pictures. I decided to believe it could be true.
Around this time I started a new job in a communications role, mostly writing and copy editing. Then one day there was an event and I offered to take pictures. They were well received. In fact they were so well received that it seemed as if overnight everybody in the department learned my name and I learned that people love to be photographed.
A month later my sister came to visit and for three days I had a personal muse. I played around with settings, angles, and we walked for miles day after day, exploring Northern California with our eyes, and through my camera lens.
My confidence was back. She asked me to take her graduation photos. I agreed. It was humbling, and I felt all the energy I had lost to my self doubt come back to me.
Then boss asked me to photograph another event, a bigger one this time. The photographs again were well received, so much so that even the persecutor within me was silenced. There was no turning back. I essentially became the official department photographer. My images were used officially and I was credited. When this happened I walked around in a daze for two days. How did it all come together so quickly? How did my dream come true, just like that?
But of course it wasn’t really just like that. Even though I doubted it, I took the preparatory steps so that if one day somehow the stars aligned, I would be ready. Once you decide what you want, the best course of action is to prepare to get it.
Today I went to work wearing stone washed jeans and a navy blue button down shirt. My shoes were clean but not spotless, before I walked out the door I had a thought that perhaps I should change into a darker wash jeans because though my workplace is casual I felt the light wash was a bit too casual. I ignored the voice even right after I heard it say ‘grab your camera just in case’.
I got to work and was asked to photograph a shot but official event. I had enough time to run home and get my camera, change and polish my boots, though I didn’t have to, I just felt more comfortable doing so.
And it made me realize that preparation and some level of boldness is key. If I never offered to take photographs in the first place nobody would have known I had the interest and the skills. The same way they say dress for the job you want, not the job you have, it applies to every aspect of life. Believe yourself to be who you hope to become. Learn what you want to know. Train yourself to be who you wish to become. Decide what to be and be it.
Are you ready for what you’re wishing for?