For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a photographer, but the message I continually received growing up was that I couldn’t. And after hearing I couldn’t for so long I feel like I started to believe it. But that never kept me from dreaming about it. I would spend countless hours looking at other photographer’s sites wondering, what they have that I don’t. And why was it that all these people could follow their dreams, but I couldn't?
Growing up, my parents have always been supportive of me, but have also had a large influence in my career path. Although they would encourage my photography as a hobby (they even allowed me to paint my bedroom walls black to create my own “studio”) I continually received the message that it was not a viable career choice. Concerned that I would not be able to support myself with an art career, my parents guided me in the direction of a “safer” field. After completing my undergraduate degree I still felt lost and unsatisfied with my prospective career path, so I decided to start looking at graduate schools. My first thought was to go back to school for photography, but that idea was quickly shot down by my dad, who was at the time financially supporting my academic endeavors. So I started thinking about some of my other passions, aside from photography, and decided a career in mental health counseling would be a good fit. It would allow me to work with individuals that were in need and help motivate them towards change. After three years of graduate school I received my Masters in Mental Health Counseling and am now currently working full time in the field.
I spend my days working with individuals who are struggling with such issues as bipolar disorder, grief and loss, eating disorders, identity development, and depression. My goal is to create a safe environment where we are able to work together to increase awareness about the presenting concern, recognize potential and work towards positive change. Ironically enough, this often includes encouraging them to follow their dreams.
Although I sometimes wonder what my life would be like now if I had gone directly to school for photography, I don’t regret the path that I have taken because I am still fighting for my dream and have gained so much from my journey. My degree in counseling has taught me how to better relate with my clients as well as how to build stronger more genuine relationships. And despite being told that I couldn’t, I never quite gave up. I have continued to study photography on my own time taking classes, reading every book I can get my hands on, and visiting various blogs and websites of other professionals in the field.
To be chosen for this contest would be such an honor and provide me an amazing opportunity that I would otherwise not be able to have at this time to learn from a talented and inspiring professional whose work I greatly admire. I feel that it could be the catapult I need to launch me into the next level of my career.
Although it sometimes feels like an uphill battle I continue to work because I know in the end it will all be worth it. I hope that not only my work as a counselor, but also my actions in following my own dreams will help further inspire those around me to follow theirs too no matter how difficult it may seem.
Special thanks to iheartfaces.com and Amy Wenzel!