How this whole thing started...
At age 21, I began supporting myself by juggling 4 jobs - working as an intern, designing instruction manuals for a manufacturing company, ringing in groceries as a cashier, and odd photography jobs on the side. A Fine Arts University graduate, I was your classic struggling artist.
I was in love with photography, but I still had my eyes on a 9-5 job. I wanted it so badly - and more than anything I wanted people to respect my job and quit asking me why I was using my degree to bag groceries (& I actually loved this job, by the way! I believe in being respectful to everyone's choice in work because you're a worthy human being no matter your profession).
Still - back then, I wanted to feel like I had "made it".
Fast forward a couple of years and i finally nabbed that 9-5 great-pay-great-benefits-wear-a-blazer-to-work type job. Does it surprise you that I was insanely miserable? I didn't recognize myself. I cried in my car on the way to work. I would go for my lunch and imagine what would happen if I drove off and didn't come back after my hour was up. I thought "this can't be what I'm here on this earth to do" - but I wrestled so hard with it because it was what I had told myself for so long that I wanted.
Do what makes you happy. You don't get to do this again.
While I was weighing my decision to quit my job and become a full time photographer, I had a man come into my office at work. He was a self-employed musician, and this immediately intrigued me. Gathering my courage, I said to him "you've been self-employed for over 20 years... that must of been difficult" to which he replied "yes, it was".
My curiosity got the best of me and I asked him if he regretted it because of how hard it was. Without hesitation, he said to me that he could never have imagined doing anything differently because he was doing something he loved.
A few weeks later I quit my job and I kid you not, within my first week of newfound freedom I saw that man's obituary in the paper. You never know how short life can be.
Ever since I began this journey, I have kept this thought in my mind: life is too short to give a damn about what people think about your job, your life, and your choices. Be smart, but do what makes you happy. Don't be scared. You don't get to do this again.