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I used to think my biggest dream was to be a writer. In fact, nearly a year ago now, I accidentally called myself a writer for the first time. I was interviewing for a nanny position and the dad asked me what I wanted to do in life.
The word writer spilled out before I could catch it and think of something more responsible to say. Writer always invited questions.
“Like books? Fiction? Journalism?”
This was an interview, so I couldn’t just shrug and say whoever will hire me. I admitted, softly, fearfully, that I want to write non-fiction books. I mumbled something about desiring to write a memoir, which I’m sure made me sound really pretentious.
I blushed the entire time, as if waiting for scorn and ridicule over my pike dream.
But instead, the parents who would soon offer me the job, commented on how that was cool and how helpful I could be in helping their daughter with her homework.
Admitting my writing to others became easier after that interaction. And calling myself a writer, made me write more. I didn’t feel like I was just faking it anymore. I am a writer.
Then on June 1st of this year, I became a videographer. Heath worked his first job that day for Hourly America. Last week, I filmed for the fortieth day in North Carolina (pictured above), perhaps one of the most beautiful jobs we’ve worked.
During 40 full days of filming over the past six months (I film something from our trip almost every day, but these are my 40 work days), I became a videographer. I suppose I became a videographer on my first day of work, or maybe it was the moment I agreed to film a documentary.
During these forty days of work, I’ve climbed from novice to pretty comfortable as a videographer. For the entire first month, I felt nervous all of the time. I knew what I was shooting wasn’t good enough. I knew I needed to get better and fast.
Suddenly, my biggest dream and priority was making an award winning documentary. Videographer quickly overturned my writing dream. For a while, I felt guilty. I need to be writing, I told myself. Writing is my real dream. Anything else isn’t right.
I say all of this to tell you that last week, someone referred to me as a photographer.
Photographer. I nearly fainted.
In middle school, when MySpace was all the rage, I decided I wanted to be a photographer. All of my friends would post these beautiful pictures they presumably found as stock photos on the hard drive of every Windows computer. They were so beautiful! I decided then and there that I wanted to be a photographer.
There was one huge problem. I was terrible. Digital cameras had just become the norm and every picture I took looked nothing like the gorgeous photos every one else was posting.
So my photography dream was short-lived and I moved onto my more lucrative dream of becoming a singer.
But there in the caption, below a picture I indeed captured, I saw a new title in front of my name: Photographer, Alyssa Padgett.
To be completely honest, I felt really cool for a second. Then I felt this guilt again. This isn’t my real dream. I shouldn’t pursue this.
Then I read the blog beneath this photo I took. The writer, a police chief in California, wrote about how we are made for more than one thing. After working in law enforcement for 25 years, John is becoming a full-time writer and cartoonist. (You can read his blog at johnpatrickweiss.com.)
Writing, videography, photography–these are three passions of mine. I thought I could only focus on one. Sometimes I think writing should be the most important, because it came first. The other two are brand new. But that’s foolish thinking.
We can chase more than one dream. We have more than one singular purpose for our lives. I can’t imagine we’d live very long if we were meant to only do one thing.
Right now, I’m pursuing these three dreams a little each day. And there’s only one secret to chasing all of these dreams at once: Don’t expect to be great anytime soon.
It took three months of consistent video work before I felt comfortable holding a camera. There were moments where I forgot to hit record, forgot to charge the battery, forgot to bring the tripod. Just last week, I recorded for an hour before realizing my mic was turned off. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and it was often discouraging to feel that I wasn’t improving.
But I still keep practicing. Every day I write something. I film something. I take a picture. I don’t try to take one day to master all of these skills, but I practice a little every day. Am I a good writer? Maybe not, but I’m better than I was on January first. Am I a great documentary filmmaker? Heck no! But I’m still working toward that goal knowing that I might not be great by this afternoon when we film Heath’s next job, but I will be great in a few more months or a few more years, with practice.