If you’ve taken a workshop with me, or received a photography-related email from me, or read my blog in the past, you’ve definitely seen me sign off with the phrase, “Enjoy the process.” I’m honestly not sure when I started doing that, or how it became habitual, but I can tell you why I do it.
In my usual roundabout way.
I am not a patient person. Never have been, probably never will be. I want things now. When I plan a trip, I want to leave immediately. Waiting for UPS to deliver packages to my door is downright painful. (I’m waiting for one right now — GAH!) Road trips are damn near impossible for me. I just get so excited about the things that interest me that it’s very difficult to appreciate the time it takes for those things to happen. Some people savor the trip-planning process, and the mental vacation and excitement that the planning process brings. (You listening, Janelle?) I am most certainly not one of them.
We all know in our heads that some things are worth waiting for, and that some things are impossible without patience, without dedication, without the process. But it doesn’t stop us from getting discouraged or irritated when we don’t get instant gratification.
We want to get thin without changing our eating habits long-term.
We want to be toned and strong without the pain of regular, disciplined gym time.
We want our dream jobs, but without the years of education and paying our dues.
When we’re kids, we want to skip straight to being adults so we can do whatever we want. (Hahaha.)
When we’re single, we want to be in a great relationship, but who wants to date??
The simple truth is that there are very few things in life worth having that are easy to get. But we do live in a society that wants instant rewards.
And the greater truth is that when we do find it in ourselves to push through the impatience, the inconvenience, the challenges required to get to that reward, we realize that the real reward is the personal growth we earned along the way. That’s how we get to know ourselves on a deeper level, to understand how strong we are, how resilient, what exactly it is that we’re made of, what makes us unique. And so often, those are times that we remember as the best days/weeks/years of our lives. I love and appreciate what I’ve accomplished with my work, but the excitement of those early breakthroughs! I think of them wistfully and miss the whirlwind years.
Photography is many things to many people. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably passionate about it either as a hobby, an outlet, or a profession. You probably have goals and dreams attached to your camera that you cannot wait to achieve. Maybe it’s finding your voice and creating work that people instantly recognize as yours. Maybe it’s getting past a specific technical mental block that seems to have you stumped right now. Maybe it’s figuring out how to set yourself apart to make your business more successful. Whatever it is, I am here to tell you that the blood, sweat, and tears you put into the process of getting to the end result you want is worth enjoying. Commit to it. Savor it. Understand that the process is its own reward. Struggle and know that you are accomplishing something great, even if it feels like it’s at a snail’s pace.
And remember that you can’t grow the art without growing the artist. Everything worth having is worth working for.
So…. get out there and enjoy the process.
If you haven’t already checked it out, I’ve got a new website dedicated to photographer mentoring, workshops, and artistic development. New classes and programs have been posted, including the next run of the Art of Self-Critique workshop series. Please do drop by and visit at www.cjmentoring.com.