14 Things on What Making the Leap Taught Me

All of this shit is probably going to sound cliché, but shit sounds cliché because every cliché has some truth to it.

1. How Little We Really Need.

I turned down a six-figure job offer to pursue my business, which sounds crazy as I read this. Yes, I’m making less money now than when I was salaried (for now), but if there’s anything I’ve realized, I really don’t need that many material things to be happy. 
 
 In fact, as I’ve been recently donating/getting rid of things, I often ask myself why the fuck did I waste money on this? I could’ve used this money instead towards travel, buying something that I actually really loved, or better yet, saved and invested this money towards something that will help me make more money.

Look around you right now. How many of these objects can you honestly say fill you with joy when you look or touch them? When was the last time that you even used some of these objects?

I’m working my way towards becoming a minimalist, but damn, sometimes it can be hard. I first discovered the following quote 5 years ago, and it really resonated with me. But it’s only now that I’ve started to finally apply it to my life. Reading the book by Marie Kondohas been super helpful in implementing this practice.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris

2. Health is Wealth.

One of the first things I did after “the leap” was to get a gym membership. Part of it was to be “lean” aka I was freaking out and trying to think of ways I could save money, so I figured I’d save on my water utilities by showering at the gym instead. I’m a weirdo, I know. 
 
More importantly though, this was the only way I had of managing my stress and fear. I’d be damned if I was going to turn to alcohol or other self-destructive activities (never understood why people felt the need to do this). Alternating between depression and verge of panic attacks, with no one to talk to about what I was going through, this was my way of controlling my emotions. I’d be so tired after working out, combined with the post-workout high, my mind had no choice but to be “zen”.
 
The obvious benefits of working out aside from improving my mental health. was that I became stronger physically, which is also a self esteem booster. I was shaping a body that I was proud of.

I first started working out again in 2014 after seeing this photo. But how I work out now versus back then doesn’t even compare. I’d work out maybe once a week after work — nothing enough to make significant progress.

My dad’s a wise man. He always said, “Take care of your health. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” I always agreed, but only now has this advice made more of an impact. Because seriously, if you’re not emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy, it’s going to be difficult to live a fulfilling life.

3. It’s a lonely path, but I’m (mostly) okay with being alone.

“I could never do it.”

That’s what people often tell me when I tell them my story. And for that simple reason, I have taken a path where I’ll most likely be traveling by myself for some time.

While people are doing their 9–5 job, complaining about their co-workers, and looking forward to the weekend where they can drink their sorrows away, I’m grinding. It’s hard to relate or stay friends with someone when you no longer value the same things. It’s hard to have conversations when you don’t care to gossip, talk shit, or complain about things you can control in your life. I love talking about ideas and making them happen — talking to people who are also passionate about self-improvement and finding their own ways to give back in this world, no matter how big or small. I need more people like that in my life.

The hardest part of having made this decision is not losing friends (I’m used to this as I have witnessed countless people enter and leave my life as we go through different life stages; this is simply a fact of life), but it’s the emotional burden that I’ve brought onto my parents, which with it, comes distance.

For the longest time, I tried to shelter my parents from this knowledge, knowing that they would not react positively to my decision. Unfortunately, my mother found out about 6 months later and has been emotionally blackmailing me since.

I get it. I get where she’s coming from. She sacrificed so much so that she could put me through a good school, and I could earn two engineering degrees. I know what I’m doing is not “safe”, and that I’m currently not making as much money as I could be. That potentially no one’s going to want to hire me after being out of the workforce for so long…

Yet at the same time, if you’re not going to support me, lift me up, I really don’t have the time and energy for people that are only going to bring me down. I’m sad to say, as a result, this has caused some distance between us, and I feel the burden that I’ve placed on my family. The only good thing about this burden is that it drives me to succeed.

Part of going down this path is making the decision to cut out things and people that aren’t adding value to your life. When you do that, sadly, there isn’t always a whole lot of people left.

4. Invest in Yourself.

Now that you have no one left to talk to and you’ve given up all non-value added activities (like drinking), you end up with a lot of free time. What do you do with all this free time? You invest in yourself.

At my old job, my boss gave me some advice, “Always look out for you; no one else will.” Which made me think okay, maybe this is true based on my experiences with some people, and maybe I should heed this, but this is also going to work against you, because now I’m not sure I trust you. Anyway.

The great thing about building your own business is you learn a lot, and you also learn about the areas you suck in. When you learn about the areas you suck in, you can either do two things: admit you suck and never do anything about it, or you admit that you suck and do something about it. Whether it’s reading books from people who’ve done it before you, putting the ideas into practice, and doing anything else that takes you outside of your comfort zone, know that you don’t always have to be in the same place that you are in now.

When you invest in yourself, you have a knowledge base, skillset, confidence that will carry with you wherever you go. I can’t say that about drinking; the things I carry from that are belly fat, embarrassing memories, and a whole lot of destroyed brain cells.

5. Look Good to Feel Good.

One of the things I’ve been trying to invest more in these days is how I look, in terms of what I wear and how I do my hair, which goes back to the whole investing in myself.

I’ve never really cared about appearance. I always thought it was superficial. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that my hair is always a mess, if not thrown in a simple pony tail, and I don’t wear make up. Rarely, anyways. Shit, if you’ve seen me in college, I’d be winning hands down, the scrubalicious contest.

Unfortunately, though, as much as I’d like to wander the world as a nondescript dirty hobo, it’s not really fitting when you’re trying to attract and work with a certain type of clientele. There are a lot of nuances when interacting with people, and obviously one of them is people will judge you on how you look. I know, huge surprise, right?

Finding clothes that flatter you and fit your style is important because it does affect your confidence. If you’re worried about how something is not fitting properly, or how scuffed up your shoes are, you’re not going to be present on listening to what your client needs are, and chances are your clientele is going to notice it, too.

6. I have an ego, and sometimes it’s hard to let go.

This isn’t so much a positive thing, as it is an observation. One of the hardest things for me so far about changing “identities” is adjusting to how people respond to you when you tell them you’re a pet photographer versus an engineer, simply for ego reasons. They don’t necessarily say anything, but I get this vibe where they automatically dismiss you in their head as someone they can’t take seriously. I then feel the need to compensate by sharing what I did previously.

I’m trying to give less fucks about this, but I think I care because I don’t want people to think that I’m less capable/intelligent than I really am. I haven’t figured out how to overcome this yet, aside from planning on becoming a successful millionaire, but yeah, just an observation.

7. How to Appreciate the Little Things.

This. Creating, building, and growing your business is like being fucking bi-polar.

When you’re low, you’re really fucking low. And when you’re high, you’re really fucking high. When so much of your success is built on certain outcomes, the simple and small things that bring you cheer become that much more meaningful, and the things that would normally piss you off, such as waiting behind a person with 100 coupons really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

8. How to Ask for Help/How to Be Grateful.

I hate, hate, HATE asking for help. And probably not for the reasons you might imagine. It’s not because I worry that people will think I’m stupid or incompetent, it’s simply because I hate the feeling of being indebted to people.

Obviously, this is a skewed perception because as multiple friends have told me, (most) people love to naturally help; they’re not helping you with the expectation of anything in return. And I know this is true. Because I completely agree with them — I love helping people, too.

Asking for help has been one of those things that I’ve been working on to grow outside of my comfort zone. It’s probably one of the best things that I can practice, because by asking people for help in different areas, it has helped me to grow my business faster than doing it alone. So thank you. 
 
Thank you to everyone that has helped me to grow my business by hiring me to photograph their pets. (After all, I gotta pay them billz somehow).

Thank you to everyone that has shared my work with other people, thus increasing the awareness about my services.

Thank you to everyone that has connected me with other people that has helped me to grow my business.

Thank you to everyone that has suggested new ways for looking at things.
 
But most importantly, thank you to the ones that have simply given me a listening ear when I needed it the most.

I’m still not super great at this, but I’m working on it. 
 
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with people.”

9. Don’t be a Dickhead.

It’s simple as that. I get it. Sometimes there are days where everything seems to be going wrong, and despite your normally positive attitude, you just want to kill everyone in sight. But you know what, if it’s not going to affect you five minutes from now, it’s really not that big of a deal. It’s much easier to be kinder to a person and reap the potential karma from your actions than being a dickhead and having everyone hate you.

10. Giving Back.

When you create a business, it’s not just you that’s solely responsible for it being a success. Success isn’t possible without other people, whether it’s your clients, friends, or other people who help you in other ways. I can’t help but feel grateful everyday for people who decided to take a chance on me, who have taken the time and energy to help me to grow my business. Every little thing adds up. Seeing how far I’ve come and how it wouldn’t have been possible without all these people, has made me value giving back to my community and helping other people become the best versions of themselves. When we help each other, we help everyone.

11. Learn to Embrace Rejection.

Rejection sucks. I hate rejection. You hate rejection. Everyone fucking hates rejection.

At the same time though, it provides a valuable learning tool. You can either get rejected, bitch about it to the world, and cry yourself to sleep, or you can ask yourself, “Hey Kat, why did I get rejected in this situation?” It’s most likely because you’re not what they’re looking for, which is fine, because you wouldn’t be a good fit for them anyway. And there’s always someone else around the corner who is looking for what you have. 
 
By asking yourself that question, depending on your goal, you can also use that experience to learn and figure out how or what you might do differently if you’re in a similar situation again.

12. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

My defining point. I can still remember it oh so clearly in my head. I was waiting in the hall of a loft building in Pontiac, while my brother was doing a photoshoot for a clothing label.

If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I love books. Old books, new books, whatever. I just really fucking love books. There happened to be a dusty old pile of books abandoned in a box sitting on a table. I reached in and pulled out an old version of Wizard of Oz, and opened it to the first page.

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves as well. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen accidents, meetings and material assistance that no one could have dreamed would come their way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
 
 — Goethe

That hit me like a ton of bricks, as this was right around the time I was working on building the website for my business. And I was probably questioning whether my business would be even a success. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but that seemed like a sign, and I took that quote to heart.

Looking back on these past 6 years, it seems like those ancient people knew what they were talking about. Opportunities are happening now, which I would have never dreamed of happening when I first started.

Every little step, action, and energy you put out there adds up over time. As an impatient person and a “sprinter”, I struggled the first few years with frustration at the lack of results, but I finally understand that everything in life is a marathon, not a sprint.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

13. How Resilient We Are.

I can’t believe today is my one year anniversary and the difference between my emotional and mental state today compared to last year. Leaping into the unknown is scary as fuck but know that we are all more resilient than we think. Things might not work out, but that’s okay, because see #11.

14. Being Mortal

I struggled hard when I was working in corporate. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to get ready. I didn’t want to drive to work, wasting an hour of my life commuting each day (That’s 5 hours/week for 6 years. You do the math on how much of your life is wasted commuting). And I sure as fuck didn’t want to be sitting at a bland cubicle 8 hours a day doing bullshit work that I could get done in a couple of hours, nor really cared about. 
 
 As much as I’m a logic-over-feelings type of person, my heart already knew what my mind was fighting. I couldn’t live a life that wasn’t true to me; and I couldn’t deal with that the fact that I felt like a small piece of my soul was dying each day.

Yes, I don’t know there I’m going to be in a year. Yes, I know a lot of things could go in a different direction. At the same time though, this experience has taught me that I’m more capable than I think. For the longest time, I was searching for someone to save me, but that someone was me. This is so fucking cliché, but it’s so fucking true.

I’m here. I’m now. I’ve got ideas. I’m trying. I’m growing. I’m learning. I’m building. I love everything that this journey has brought and taught me. And I’ve never felt more alive in my life.

If you’ve been thinking of doing something but have been too scared to pursue it, do it now. As the list of acquaintances that have passed away (at too young of an age) continues too too young, it’s an all too sharp reminder that our life is too short to not pursue a life that is authentic to our selves.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather die trying, than having never tried at all.

Anyway, I need to add pictures and shit, and probably proofread, blah, blah blah, but this is cutting into my workout time, so I’ll do it later. Thanks for reading!