too big for your britches. (or that time I showed you something really embarrassing.)

brooke-cagle-70766.jpg

Most days I fight myself, who I used to be, a girl who fell into photography, unprepared. I was a little fawn, stumbling around on wobbly legs, learning to walk and survive in a brand new world. I got a degree in English, for goodness sake. What do I know about managing a business? What do I know about taking a photo?

Since I’m constantly reminded of that version of myself, it’s hard to ask for better things, to let go of what used to be and embrace the next wave. Deep down, I’m just a free-spirit that comes alive when I watch life through a camera. When it’s that simple, it’s hard to put labels on yourself. To call yourself a photographer, a business owner. To consider your business legitimate.

But change is bound to happen. Whether you work for it or not. Whether you ask for it or not. When it shows up, eager to whisk you out the door on another wild journey, you can’t let the person you once were hold you back from diving in fully and deeply. In fact, you can’t even let the person you are now keep your butt glued to the couch, ignoring who you should be.

We’re never truly ready for the greatness calling to us. That’s how the best stories go.

While I’m a little embarrassed by my early images now, I don’t despise those beginnings. I worked with what I had, even if it was a limited ability. If I didn’t have it, I chased it down, and if I didn't know it, I learned it. Oh, and I totally messed up a million times.

Now that years have passed, I’m operating with greater knowledge of my craft, greater purpose as an artist, greater understanding of who I am and how I want to serve others. It's far from perfect, but THAT is the truth, even when my head wants to believe I’m still stuck in the past, as that timid 20-year-old.

I don’t fit that girl anymore. I’ve outgrown that mindset, that skill-set, that outlook.

Did you catch that?

When we’ve come far from where we started, when miles and miles separate us from the ground zero, we are not allowed to buy into the idea that we can’t do it or that we don’t deserve the life we’ve imagined and prepared for ourselves.

Trying to believe that is like trying to fit into your childhood jeans. It doesn’t make sense. Too much time has passed for you to even think you could fit back into something that is much too small for you.

Too much time has passed for you to even think that you haven’t changed, that you haven't grown enough, that you aren’t ready for wild and crazy adventures, that you don’t deserve your own little slice of awesome.

It's okay to be a little too big for your britches. 

If an earlier version of yourself won’t stop occupying a space in your head, just put on your stinking big-kid pants already.

And move. the heck. on.

Remind yourself of where you began. Remember all of the sweating and moving and shaking you did while everyone else was sleeping. Remember when coffee was the only thing keeping you going. Remember the time spent devouring manuals and road maps, the investments you made in a better you.

Remember the way you winged it and took chances, the way you fell flat on your face and grew stronger on the way back up.

Remember that you didn’t get here by accident, that every time you chose to rise and just do something, you inched a little closer to where you are today.

And you alone have the power to give yourself worth because you have fought battles that no one else can see, because there are casualties that only you will ever mourn, because you’ve been braver than you ever thought you could be.

You alone determine your value and you are allowed to proclaim it. Because if you don’t, you may let someone else’s appraisal too easily define you. Because if everyone else says it but you don’t believe it, then it means absolutely nothing.

Know that you have worth, that you always have. But the fact that you are better than you were yesterday, that you care more about where you're going than where you've been, that you say "yes" to funerals for clothes that don't fit and thoughts that are too small for you, that you continue to show up, mess up, and get up, again and again and again… well that’s just dynamite, darling.

And because I'm a visual person, this is how I measured my improvement. (It just got REAL.)

then now 1
then now 1
THEN NOW 9
THEN NOW 9
THEN NOW 4
THEN NOW 4
THEN NOW 3
THEN NOW 3
then now 2
then now 2
THEN NOW 8
THEN NOW 8
THEN NOW 7
THEN NOW 7
THEN NOW 6
THEN NOW 6
THEN NOW 5
THEN NOW 5