I’ve always had an interest and passion in many different areas but as I went through school and college, I was encouraged to pick just one area of expertise and to stick to it. That way, I would pave the way to having a successful career path. 10 years later, I’ve now discovered quite the opposite and I have finally learned to accept and embrace my very varied skills and passions.
As a child, I loved eating healthily (I know right), I enjoyed spending time with animals, and I developed a strong relationship with photography. It was around this time that I also began to volunteer and fundraise for various causes I felt passionate about. However, following the status quo, I focused my attention on what would forge a steady career path and therefore I chose to study photography in college. Once I had graduated, I began an internship at a studio.
Even within photography, I enjoyed so many different aspects, from wildlife to food. When I started working as a photographer, I began to pull together a portfolio. It was frowned on by others that I didn’t have a key area of focus. I soon began to believe that in order to ‘make it,’ I needed to specialize in one area and become a master in it.
After working in the studio for a few years and focusing my energy on product and lifestyle imagery, I began to lose my passion for photography altogether and started to see it as a chore. Working full time plus overtime, I wasn’t maintaining an active healthy lifestyle, nor did I have much spare time to volunteer or be around animals.
A few years later, I went traveling with my partner. This year and a half spent living out of a backpack changed my relationship with photography, food, animals, and fundraising—I found my passions again. I enjoyed photographing wild animals, being introduced to the world of veganism and I even found time to raise money for a few charities. This time spent traveling also encouraged me to take up new skills like writing and videography. I set up a travel blog and although it wasn’t the best blog and I certainly wasn’t producing award-winning videos, I wasn’t bothered because I was really enjoying the process.
It soon came time to head back home and start thinking about the future. As my partner is also creative, we decided to join forces and set up a joint business, offering our skills and services. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were doing it all wrong. We focused our efforts on what others needed and required and what we could do for them, rather than what we wanted to produce and were passionate about. We can see now why this business venture never quite worked out.
We had set up some other side hustles at this point too. I set up a food blog to capture my journey with nutrition and sustainability and we also started a design shop selling custom travel prints.
A year or so later, I headed overseas to volunteer. On my placement, I was successful in becoming a Youth Reporter. This role had creative freedom and so I explored many avenues such as videos, writing and photography. I was really excited to be able to combine my creative skills with my passion for volunteering and fundraising.
Once I returned from my placement, I wanted to make sure I continued to keep up my activism work so I started to blog about my experiences. At this point, I felt like I needed to label myself and fit myself into set boxes. I had all these different side hustles and all these different blogs that I was juggling to maintain. I’d also been freelancing for a few years and was calling myself a content creator, focusing on photography and video. I soon started to feel frustrated that I wasn’t excelling in one particular area. I felt scattered and I also felt kind of average at all of my skills and that I wasn’t really succeeding in anything.
Last year, I moved to Canada just before the worldwide pandemic was declared. Lockdown gave me time and space to self-assess and re-evaluate. It was here that I realized I have spent the last 10 or so years spreading myself so thin that I couldn’t even keep up with myself. It’s taken me almost a decade to accept that I’m not a master or expert of one particular skill, in fact, my uniqueness comes from my multitude of passions and expertise.
Right now, I am in the process of streamlining all of my work and accounts. Rather than have all these different blogs and side hustles, I am creating one profile that’s just me. It will be a ‘here is who I am and what I do’, even if that goes against the grain and the norm.
Learning about yourself, finding what you’re truly passionate about and then pursuing what you most enjoy is hard work and can take time. But in the long run, it’ll be worth it and it will all work out in the end.
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Photos: Anna Ashbarry