Today’s guest post is from my friend Tahni, who is an amazing photographer and artist. Tahni and I became friends in college, and I’m so glad we have kept in touch. I hope you are just as inspired by her creative spirit, consistently beautiful work, and words of wisdom as I am!
It was a brisk fall afternoon. (Because every good story starts with the weather.)
I had been sitting in a booth at East Garden Chinese Buffet for hours, my sweet friend Jenny looking at me over her second or third bowl of soup. Somewhere in between taking a bite of her cream puff and hugging me tightly to send me on my way into the grown-up, adult world, she told me to “just do it.” Just let go of my fears. Just trust God. Just use the eyes and the hands I had been given to bring beauty to this world.
And if you and I were sitting over two cups of steaming hot coffee, and you were telling me that there was something that brought you life, and if I saw the way that something blessed other people, then I would tell you the exact same thing.
You see, starting a creative business is scary. Terrifying, really. And you have a lot to learn (a lot!). But you will get there. Some dark, cold, terrible evenings will come upon you, and you will question every decision you have made up to that point. Some nights you will be so giddy that you stay up dreaming; your stomach whirling with butterflies. Some mornings the sun will shine so bright, and Pandora will pick out the most perfect music, and you will realize it’s 9 pm and you haven’t moved all day because you love. what. you. do. Some days you will stomp around, whining like a baby, because you hate all your stupid responsibilities, and your stupid ideas, and the stupid expectations your clients pose on you.
And Tuesdays, oh man, Tuesdays you will be productive. So productive, in fact, that you get to go to the gym, make a good dinner, and see your best friend- because you accomplished everything on your to-do list! But many other days will leave you breathless, occasionally in tears.
The truth is, starting a creative business is never what you think it will be. It is the highest highs and the lowest lows. It is failure, it is success. It is day after day, moving forward, falling behind, and balancing the rest of your life in the in between. And it’s okay when you fall behind and when you fail. Because it won’t be forever.
Starting a creative business is also a lot of non-creative work. And the real trick is not in how you can get people to pay you for what you love, but in balancing all the duties you didn’t know you signed up for. There is no such thing as instant success in all these areas. You do have to learn, and you are obligated to put in the time. And you should know that it’s okay.
If you need permission to take awhile to get yourself and your business together, this is your permission. And if you need encouragement to dream, or to rule out all things that don’t shape your business into what you want it to be, this is that encouragement.
And lastly, if you need a friendly face or a creative, business-minded veteran, please don’t hesitate to ask. Perhaps there are far more experienced people to tell you how to do your taxes, but rest-assured I have been where you are and where you will be. And I would love nothing more than to be part of your brisk fall afternoon.
Tahni lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her worship-leading husband, Joseph, and tail-less Siamese kitty, Soleil. She takes photographs and does graphic design for a living. She loves to tell stories, speak French, and dance to hip hop music. She also marvels at the world, surf’s peoples’ couches, and pushes the boundaries.