By the end of 2011 I will have been a college graduate for three years. When I was in elementary school I used to dream about attending the university and learning about other cultures, history and meeting new people. In my mind, the university was for intellectuals - individuals pondering world issues. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Hernandez, nicknamed me "The Speeding Bullet" and "Speedy Gonzalez." I'd finish my work so quickly she often didn't know what to do with me because I'd finish way ahead of the rest of the students. 

Every class has a similar student; you know, the obnoxious one who works so hard to be the best and makes everyone else seem slower than usual. That was me, for a long time. I can't recall my parents ever sitting me down and telling me I needed to be the best. It just simply was in my nature. Perhaps I gave my parents the easy road in terms of academia for their child because I would get sent to the principal's office for awards not apprehension. 

Back then, I never thought about what I would study in college. I just knew I had to attend; I desperately wanted to. People go through life with or without motivation but, ultimately, we all have an end goal. My goal in high school was to graduate from the university and embark on a successful career. Somewhere in between junior year and graduation I was sure I'd become a lawyer. The Law. I wanted to study it. I wanted to know it. I wanted to practice it. Even now I think about the excitement of playing within a set of certain rules to win a case. 

Most of my childhood and adolescence was spent in quiet. I hardly spoke. I'm not quite sure why but it may have something to do with that one bully who once proclaimed to the class that I sounded like Mickey Mouse on helium. Now don't get me wrong, I love Mickey Mouse and at some point between age three and four I wanted to marry him. But when you're in fifth grade and some mean kid makes fun of you, the last person you want to be compared to is Mickey Mouse. 

When I told my parents my dreams about practicing law, they were surprised. They later asked if I knew I had to be assertive, stern and sometimes not play so nice. {Always trust your parents to know you oh-so-well.} No fear. I dreamt of being in a courtroom and presenting my case. And winning, too. But right after graduation my life changed - forever.

I lost something I never quite really had. 

Never in my life had I felt so alone. Back then I thought it was just about the worst thing I could ever experience and feel. Loneliness was a complete understatement. Everyone around me claimed to love me  and be there for me. But at the end of every night, it was just me and my lonely thoughts.

Somewhere in the past year, that feeling finally went away. I felt re-newed but realized I was no longer the same person I used to be. In the process between early 2009 and now, the dream of law school became much more of a dream than a reality. My gears shifted and I craved for something more than the average normal job. Applying to law school was a really tough and expensive process. I never thought I would just give it up that easily. But I did. 

Now for the really tough part... 

It is often that I hear "You should go to law school." "You need to get a real job." "What you do is real nice but you can't possibly do this forever, can you?" It becomes easy to forget I have a job and have work to do. It has become way to easy to feel belittled and feel the need to defend what I most love. It's true... If it was socially acceptable, I'd be a hippie for free. I'd roam the earth pondering deep issues, being kind and praising God. But I'm not quite yet in heaven, am I?

In the real world, people grow up and get a job. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have a real job. I work hard at what I do and work hard for the little that I currently have I have. It's difficult to be a small business owner. You have to make others believe in you, even your loved ones. 

But if you don't believe in yourself, no one can. So I go back to what I mentioned earlier about being nicknamed "the speeding bullet". In third grade I loved school and finished all my work so fast because I enjoyed it. I felt satisfied. Photography satisfies me now. I recall taking forever to write my personal statement for law school applications. By that time, I was no longer really interested as in the past. My eye was on another prize. 

I now think about when I'm working. I can edit a session quickly, I can write a blog post fast, and I can re-design my website completely as many times as I want. Why? Because I am passionate about this. I love my job. Yes, job. 

Every day entails different responsibilities. A new to do list I must accomplish. The point is, I have managed to grow my business because I love what I do. I have had the help of many special people, many of whom I could not have grown so quickly without. But at the end of they day, it is I who has to believe in myself so others will too. 

I write this mostly for myself. To remember the ups and the downs of my photographic career. Life is not always easy. It gets hard, really hard. But we only have ourselves to be our number one cheerleader. No matter how much or how little others believe in us, the only thing that truly matters is self-belief. Believe that you can reach success. Believe that you can attain your goals. Believe that you do matter. Believe that you are worth it. Once you believe, others will follow. 

There are some big changes headed my way. Both personally and professionally. I am ready to to grab the reins to my life and direct in the path that I want it to. With the Lord's favor, I know that I will accomplish everything on my list of goals. It may be this year, or it may take me many more. Regardless, I know that I am finally on a path that feels right. I am ready for the changes. I hope you stick around to grow with me and see me change. Time and time again.

This photo has nothing to do with what I feel or what I wrote. But I thought it was cute ;)

Have faith in yourself!!!