As most of you know, I recently went full time with Kelsie Lynn Photography. I’ve been asked by so many people about what that process looked like and I figured I’d write a blog post that gives you a glimpse into my heart behind the decision. For the past 2 years, I’ve been working a demanding full time corporate day job, on top of a full time schedule for Kelsie Lynn Photography (20+ weddings & numerous portrait sessions, mentoring sessions, and workshops). That means that I was working 70-100 hours per week almost every week since the summer of 2016 after I graduated from Miami University.
The more I worked, the more I worked myself into the ground. After a year of burning the candle from both ends, I quickly became burnt out in the summer of 2017 and wondered if I would ever find the joy I once had for this venture of mine. I would go to work and dream about all my business could be, and then I’d come home too exhausted to work on anything.
You know that point of burn out that everyone talks about? The one where people say they are so mentally and physically exhausted that they can’t bring themselves to answer emails or even edit some of their favorite images? The place you think, “There’s no way that I’ll ever be there because I love photography ‘too much,’” or because you know that you’re being called to pursue your passion. Well friends, that place is VERY real, and it’s a place that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Just because you feel like it’s your calling doesn’t mean your exempt from over-working yourself.
Last year, I was to the point that I was crying myself asleep because I couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I wasn’t taking care of my body physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually and it drastically took it’s toll on me. I would be lying if I said that I still wasn’t experiencing some of the ramifications of that, but I’m happy to report that you can bounce back if you take care of yourself. After that season, I knew that something had to change.
I went into this venture with the mindset of, “I’m single, I don’t have a family, I don’t have anyone counting on me or fighting for my time, so I can hustle as much as possible to rapidly grow my business.” That, friends, was the worst mindset I could have had. I quickly found myself staying up till 1, 2 or even 3 in the morning to get my work done. I always said no to social activities because I had to work, and had 3 weekends completely free between the end of April and the new year in 2017.
Last fall, I had a realization that just because I didn’t have people directly in my life that were fighting for my time (i.e. a husband, kids, dog, etc.), that didn’t give me an excuse to hustle 24/7. If I was constantly working then I would never have the time to go on dates or look for a dog to adopt. I realized that my decisions in the present impacted my future far more than I thought they did. I was working from a place of burnout and it was EXHAUSTING.
Most people who knew me personally, knew that I was hustling my business on the side of my full time job. Often they would ask, “so, when are you going full time?” I would always give the answer of, “hopefully sometime soon but I want it to be a financially smart decision. I don’t want to trade in the stress of my day job for the stress of not being able to make ends meet – that wouldn’t be worth it.”
Those were both really valid & logical points to make, and points that I continue to stand by. But honestly, deep down inside I really wanted to say, “I don’t have a husband as a second source of income, I just bought a house, what if I fail?” As much as I wanted to go full time, I am not a risk taker and I don’t like change. My full-time job presented a lot of change and ambiguity so I became comfortable with that when I was forced to walk through it. But friends, it’s a whole new ball game when I’m the one introducing change into my life. If I’m being really honest, I didn’t think that I would ever have the guts to quit my day job while still relying on my single income. Let me tell you, friends, the Lord certainly had different plans!
Back in July, I went to The Gathering with Hope Taylor and Caroline Logan. We planned a girls trip and honestly, I wasn’t expecting to get a whole lot out of the event since it was for young entrepreneurs and I was on the very end of the old spectrum (LOL). But I have never been more wrong in my entire life. One of the things that was shared was “whatever you do, be all there.” The truth of the matter is that I was doing the exact opposite. Like I mentioned above, when I was at work I was thinking about my business, and when I was working on my business, I couldn’t be productive due to exhaustion. It was basically a lose-lose situation. Honestly, the whole weekend was a MAJOR heart check (and an attitude check, too! Haha which is still a consequence that I’m dealing with from last year’s burnout).
Hope also talked about the story of Peter & how he boldly stepped out onto the stormy waters because he had faith in Jesus. It didn’t matter that he was in the midst of the storm (or that he was walking on water!). Peter trusted that Jesus was who he said he is and walked out in faith. What we often leave out of this story are the boat dwellers; the rest of the disciples were too scared to faithfully walk on the water toward Jesus. Hope challenged us to not be a boat dweller, to not be afraid to take risks, to not be afraid to take a leap & trust that God’s got us. I don’t know about you, but I wanted to be like Peter. I know that this business is the Lord’s, so it’s selfish of me to be a boat dweller. In fact, I’d be crushing any potential of growth and glorification for the Lord if I held onto my business so tightly until I reached a place secure enough to go full time. I knew that it was time for me to take a leap of faith, for me to pursue this business of mine full time. Was I scared? You bet. But I was also so at peace with the decision that I knew there was no other option.
I was marching forward so quickly in my business that I was genuinely scared that I would lose all of the joy that I once had for photography. And friends, it just wasn’t worth it for me anymore. The security of a paycheck was far less important to me than my physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. I’m not Wonder Woman, and there’s no way that I could have kept pursuing both jobs full steam ahead at the same pace, without it ending in a catastrophic disaster. And to be honest, I REALLY didn’t want to stick around long enough to find out what that would look like.
I felt like, for so long, I’d lost control of my life. My calendar was being dictated by my clients, and I was developing really bad habits in the process of trying to keep up. I stayed up late & didn’t get enough sleep, I didn’t eat healthy because I didn’t have time to cook, I couldn’t tell you the last time I cracked open my bible for some quiet time & I was still trying to recover from burnout. I felt like I had no control.
You’ll often hear people say, “I don’t have enough time.” I think this is a lie because you always have time for the things you prioritize. I used to catch myself saying this and began to correct myself. It’s not that I didn’t have enough time, it’s that I didn’t have enough energy. I was drained. My lifestyle was taking everything out of me. Unlike what you’d think, I didn’t quit my day job to gain back control over my life. As much as I wanted control, that wasn’t the answer. I quit my day job to give GOD control.
At the time I decided it was time to take the leap, I had 2 wedding booked for next year. Yep, you read that right! Haha! But you know what? That didn’t stop me. Once I’d verbalized my intentions to quit to my family & some close friends, and completely surrender my business to the Lord, He SHOWED UP in a big way. As in, I booked 6 weddings in 3 weeks so that I was half way booked for next year, and he opened the door for so many other incredible opportunities with my business. Isn’t that crazy?! The inquiries just came flying in.
Throughout this process I realized that the right decision isn’t always the most logical decision. The funny thing about this is that my personality type is an ESFJ, meaning that I supposedly make decisions based on feelings rather than logic. I always struggled with that because I over analyze situations and always want to ensure that I have all of the necessary information before I make a decision. However, before my last day in the corporate world, I was given an incredible opportunity to continue working part time for the company to ease transition. It made complete sense as I would still have stable income going into off season, I would have 2 more days to work on my business and just overall had more flexibility. It was a win-win for both of us, but the more that I thought about accepting the offer, the more twisted I felt inside. I was anxious, filled with stress & worry (hello zits). I didn’t understand why something that appeared to be the right decision didn’t feel right. But that’s just it – it didn’t feel right. As soon as I acknowledged that I wasn’t at peace with that decision, I knew that it was time to say goodbye to this chapter and start a brand new one. I want you to know that sometimes it’s best to make a decision based on your gut feeling. In fact, I would say that it’s always best to do that!
Friends, my journey to full time looks a lot different than other people’s, but that’s what I love about it – it’s MINE. It’s my story of redemption, of grace, and a beautiful picture of how the Lord rescues us, cares for us, loves, and wants the best for us. When we draw near to him, His desires for our life become ours. He provides an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort. He provides the resources that we need to effectively continue our work for the Kingdom. He radically loves us in more ways than we could possibly imagine and wants us to live a bold life. And usually, that means a life that looks different from what society calls normal.
There’s so much more that I could share but this post is long enough! Hopefully it was encouraging to you. Social media makes it so easy to hide behind pretty squares making it look like life is perfect, when most times it’s not. If you’re struggling with any of the things mentioned in this post, please know that you are not alone. I’ve been through it, am still working through it and would love to chat with you – just send me an email 🙂