I have a new address for my blog, since I wanted a blog that could show bigger photos:
Today I tried to work more effectively than I´m used to. I´m not very good at doing much work in a short time, because I tend to do other stuff in between (checking facebook, mail, flickr and so on!). Usually I feel that I´ve been working for a longer time than I actually have, because I don´t really notice when I´m suddenly not working anymore, and instead checking my instagram. I have a goal to be more strict with the work that I´m doing. I want to set up a schedule and decide when I can work during the day, and when I have time off. The thing with working with your passion is that you always want to work, because you love what you do and you want everything to be as good and perfect as it can be. But sometimes less is more, and that´s a fact even in the creative business! Taking a break is very important. You should take breaks often, at least if you´re working in front of the computer. Breaks can mean that you get more done. Not working too much one day will make you work just as good the other day. It´s all about balance!
My mother is the most amazing person who always have such good advice for me. She has told me to listen to myself. She has made me realize that no success in the whole world is worth it if you´re not feeling well. That´s something that I always carry with me. The importance of feeling happy. To feel content with yourself. I do this for me. I do what I believe will make me happy, and for that I am willing to fight. But if my goal to be good at what I do would turn into a goal of becoming a success and getting other peoples recognition, then I would have to look out for myself so I don´t loose myself in the struggle. Remember that it´s not worth the stress if the stress makes you sick.
This is why I need to make a schedule for myself. I need balance. I need to work more effectively when I´m working, and I also need to plan for my time off, so that I can feel absolutely relaxed some time during the day.
I just realized that I´m not very good at having several things going on at the same time. In fact, I´m terribly bad at having many things to do! My last month has been very busy. As you may know, I was suddenly accepted at the university to study photography for three years. This hit me by surprise, and it made me slow down everything else that I had going on at the moment. I had to fix the urging things such as student loans, registration, cancelling my other plans (no time for the astronomy course that I had already begun, unfortunately!), working on my job, going to lessons and complete my assignments for school. Today I realized that I´ve actually forgotten about some emails that I´ve received during this period. I´ve had people send me an email asking if it´s okay that they do an interview with me. This is one of the things that I´m extremely flattered by. To think that a person found my work online, finds it interesting and then takes the time to sit down and write me some questions, that just feels amazing! And that´s why it feels terrible to realize that you actually forgot to answer some of these questions. I don´t know when it happened, but somewhere along the never ending list of things to do, some of these mails just fell off that list.
Me with morning coffee, a moment that I always enjoy very much and a moment that makes me happy!
I want to be someone who answers and says thank you when someone gives me a compliment for my work. I want to be someone who shows her gratitude towards the person who takes her time to sit down and write to me. I want people to feel like they are welcome with their questions and views, and I want to be the one who answers them. I think it´s important that the people who follow your work feels a connection with you. I know myself how disappointed I´ve been when I´ve contacted a person whose work I really like, and he or she doesn´t answer me. Nowadays, I´m more experienced and I know that it´s probably just lack of time, but I don´t want that to be an excuse. I never want to seem ignorant or too busy with my own to answer. The problem is that I actually am too busy to answer sometimes. So I try to keep everything on a list, from meeting a friend to answering a short comment in my mail. I know that if I don´t write things down, I will forget them. And that´s not because I don´t think they´re important to keep in mind, it´s just because I can´t keep too much in my mind. It´s the same with answering a text message on the phone, either I have to do it immediately, or I will have to write it down so that I won´t forget it. Sometimes it´s just too much going on!
Writing a blog post in the wonderful house that belongs to my boyfriends parents.
The people who follow my work and are interested in what I do are the most important to me. I can´t even begin to tell you how incredible grateful I am for all of your support, always! And it´s important to me to give something back, to make my gratitude show. There are many things in life that takes time from you that you´d rather spend on something more valuable. To me I would love to spend more time connecting with all the people out there and keeping a never ending dialogue about photography and art.
For now, it´s impossible to be available as much as I would like, but I do think that I can change my strategy now that I´m aware of my unability to tackle too much at the same time. I think that I will try to split things up more, and to make sure I eliminate everything that isn´t important to me, so that I can take more time for what´s really important. I still haven´t got the best strategy when it comes to answering my emails, but I´m working on it. For everything that you learn about yourself, you can improve and make things easier. When you run your own business it´s so valuable to know yourself well, because then you can structure things in a way that fits you the best!
I´m spending this weekend at the place where my boyfriend grew up. His parents still live here, and everytime I visit I can´t believe what a wonderful place this is. I´ts a house outside of a small town, surrounded by a few houses and a lot of nature. The ocean is close and there´s no noise, just peace and quiet. Today I´ve been wandering around by myself, drinking tea and coffee and taking self portraits. The autumn colors are amazing, and I´m trying to capture this beautiful season as much as I can because I know it will soon turn into a grey winter.
One month ago I, on a monday morning, I lay in my bed, sleeping away the morning hours after a hard weekend of work. My phone rang twice, but since I didn´t recognize the number, I didn´t answer. I simply put my phone on mute and continued to sleep. When I woke up I put my computer on. I had some thoughts about what I would do with my day. Since I had decided to finally start up my own business, I had some stuff to do with that. When I checked my private email, I got a chock. It was an email from the School of Photography in Gothenburg that I had applied to, without any luck, earlier this year. Well... I was called in to do an interview, but then I didn´t make it. This was the third time that I applied, and since I didn´t make it on the third time, I had decided to forget that school and go my own way, mainly focusing on starting up my own business. Now, 6 months later, I stood in my pajamas, stared at my inbox, shaking. They wanted to offer me a spot on the program. Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography. Three years. My dream school. The number one priority on my list for many years. A dream that I thought would never be real. And suddenly I got an email that told me that the school began the same day, and that I should get in contact as soon as possible if I wanted to accept my spot. I spoke with a man on the phone who told me that my class would meet in less than an hour. I jumped into the shower, trying to figure out what to wear, and then hurried off to my new school.
The first week I was afraid all the time that there had been a mistake. I waited for someone to come up to me and tell me that I no longer had a spot at the school, that I wasn´t accepted after all, that there had been a mistake. I went to the people who works with registration of new students, and asked them several times if everything was clear and if I was registrated at the program. I was! While worrying if I was accepted, I tried my best to talk to the people in my class and get to know my new school and how to find my way through all the stairs and corridors. I did my best to focus on class and to take in as much as possible. By experience I know that all things are hard in the beginning. Whether you start a new job, a new school, or move to a new town, you are bound to feel tired at least the first month. All the new things takes some time to adjust to. My first month at the school has been full of new things to learn, but for me the hardest part this time has been to mentally adjust myself to the fact that I´m actually studying at this school. I had already gotten used to the fact that I wouldn´t study at this school. I was quite angry with this school and I had figured out that it wasn´t a school for me. I was going to work on my own.
Today I´ve been at the school for a little more than a month. I still can´t believe that I´m really here. It feels a bit surreal. I can´t really identify with the one who got "lucky" and the one who "got in". This is what I have strived for. This is what I have dreamed of. This is what I have been crying for and talking about for many years. And suddenly it happens. Suddenly I´m in. And I´m thinking about what happens when you get what you want, when your dream comes true. Then you have to set up new goals, draw new roads to follow. I´m excited to see where this will lead me!
It´s nothing wrong with the goal of fulfilling your dream, which is something that I think is very important. I never want to be a person who looks back and feels sad for all the things that I didnt´t do. But I´m starting to wonder if my goal (to be able to work on my own with my photographic art and support myself from my business) is really worth that much. To reach my goal of supporting myself off my art, I will have to work so hard. I will have to sacrifice many things, and I will have to ignore the fact that I´m constantly stressed about the future. So I´m starting to wonder: is it worth it?
I have absolutely no plan to quit photographing and creating. My art is so important to me, it´s something that I´m always thinking about and something that makes me feel whole and fulfilled as a person. But I´m starting to realize that I need balance, and that I can´t just do what I love, because that will in the end lead me to a point where I no longer love doing it, I´m afraid.
I want to write something about the road that you´re walking to fulfill your dream, and about the No´s that may force you to change direction. If you wish for something, if you have a dream, you don´t want the answer to be No. If you want to take a special road, you don´t want that road to be shut down. If you see a door that you want to walk through, you don´t want that door to be locked. But sometimes that road isn´t available for you, sometimes that door is closed. Sometimes you just have to give up on the idea of something, in order to gain something else.
I´ve had ideas of what I want to do with my life and how I want to do it. Even more, I´ve thought about how I really don´t want it to be. I am someone who loves to take part of other peoples lives, to hear their stories, inner desires and thoughts. Through this, I have formed a view on the world and decided how I want my life to be, and even more how I don´t want my life to be. The problem with this way of thinking is that I´m sometimes making my decisions based upon other peoples experiences. It´s nothing wrong with learning from other people, but you always have to remember that everyone is different, and the only road that is right is the one that is for you.
I have sometimes tried to walk on the wrong road, on someone elses road. If you believe someone to be succesful, it´s easy to think that in order for you to be successful, you will need to do the same things as that person. But if you follow someone elses path, the risk is that you will end up living that persons dream, and not your own. If you want to reach your goal, you need to reach it by walking your own path, and not by taking the same road as someone else.
So how do we know when we walk on our own path and not on someone else´s path? Well, maybe it´s hard to be certain. Things aren´t easy to categorize or label. The best thing you can do is to look beyond the expectations that you may feel from others, and focus on where your energy lies. Maybe you´re striving to get a certain job or career, and a good thing could be to ask yourself why you´re doing what you´re doing. Maybe the answer is that you want money. Maybe the answer is that it´s your passion. Maybe the answer is that you´ve got nothing better to do. Well... I guess that´s fine! But if your answer is that you need to prove yourself to other people, to your family or friends, maybe you should think again. I personally feel that the best way to loose your energy is to make personal choices based upon other peoples desires, or based upon what you think you have to do in order to be accepted. I tend to think this way myself, and I have an example:
For many years now, I´ve had a wish to study at a special school of photography in Sweden. I don´t remember when I got this idea, but it was a long time ago. I never thought that I would have the chance to get accepted at that school, so I didn´t bother to apply. Three years ago, I gained enough confidence to apply. I made it to the interview, but not further. I applied with even more confidence the year after that, but that year I didn´t even make it to the interview. This year I applied again. Right now I´m studying a one-year course of photography, and I thought to myself that I should really get accepted this time. What happened? I made it to the interview. But not further.
I was disappointed, of course. Honestly I was also a bit surprised, because I thought that I would make it this time (I don´t exactly lack self confidence nowadays!). But I soon realized that it was time for me to reconsider. Maybe this wasn´t the only way. I´ve been so certain about this school that I haven´t even applied for other schools. In the end, I realized that I wanted to get accepted to prove to myself that I could make it. And to prove to others that I was "good enough". I´ve had this goal written on my list for so long, that it became one of those things that I just wanted to do so I could get it off my list of things that I needed done.
What I want to say with this blog post is that sometimes we get stuck in our own ideas. Sometimes we wish for something so much, that it will stop us from developing in the right direction. A No can feel devastating, but it can turn out to be the very medicine that we need. A closed door will always mean that another door opens. I got a No, and I decided to change my direction instead of waiting in front of a closed door, not daring to move. I already am a photographer. I am an artist. And so are you. You are anything you want to be. If you allow yourself to prosper, to walk on secret paths, you will reach a place that can make you happy and free.
Virginia Woolf wrote in her novel "A room of one´s own":
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
I think this can translate into any other passion or creative work you are doing. In order to create, you need time. In order to create, you need space. You need a space where you can feel safe. You need a space where time can flow, without too much hurry. You need a room.
Before I started to work with photography the way I am today (spending almost every hour of the day thinking about new concepts, photographing, editing and trying to market myself by reaching out to people, showing them my work) I didn´t have the calm around me to spend as much time on my artistry as I wanted. I had too much around me to be able to focus on my own work. When I created pictures back then, I did it when I had some spare time left, often in the middle of the night, but I wouldn´t choose to work with my images instead of meeting friends or doing something else. If I felt that I´d rather stay home and be creative than meet a friend, I had a hard time telling her that, because it felt wrong to choose my own company before the company of a friend, especially when that friend expressed an interest in meeting me.
As a child, I had no problem with this. I loved to run home after school, close the door to my room and sit for hours alone. If someone wanted to play with me after school, I simply said that I wanted to go home. So, what did I do at home, alone? I wrote novels, poems and songs for the piano. I made drawings, little movies, photographs. I read about space and stars and dinosaurs. I dreamt of adventure, freedom, of being a bird that could fly away into the sky and be forever free.
In 2011, when I started to feel an urge to create more, I realized that I needed to give myself permission to do what I really wanted to do, and that I was the only one who could make that decision. What I wanted to do was to create conceptual photographs. I decided that I needed to give myself time and space in order to do this. This also meant that I needed to make priorities by saying no to social activities and too much work. I started to work less, and naturally I didn´t need to spend as much money on activities or other stuff, because most of my time was spent in front of my computer, alone at home.
I wanted to write about the importance of having your own space, because this is something that constantly is on my mind. For example, my series Finding Peace is based upon this concept. I believe that you have to choose to be creative. If you don´t make a choice that you are going to spend the whole day alone (or just an hour) to create your art, it´s not going to happen. You have to give yourself permission to do what you love. You are the only one who knows what is truly important in your life. Your inner self will tell you where your passion lies if you dare to listen.
Many are afraid of doing what they love. Sometimes we can feel that a passion or an interest in being creative is so important that we don´t dare to do what we want to do because of fear of doing it badly, or fear of what other people might say. We all want to protect ourselves. We don´t want to loose what is important to us. But I believe that one way to protect yourself is to make room for your true self. If you make room for yourself, you will find the peace to be creative. If you sit down in calmness, the universe will open itself up to you. This can mean that you have to sacrifice other stuff. Maybe you can´t see your friends as much as your used to, or you have to cut down on something else. In order to make room for yourself, you have to give other things less space.
To me, being able to close the door, knowing that I am all by myself, is when I feel the most creative and alive.
"There is a room where no one can hurt us. There is a room where no one can get us... Let´s go there now."
Miss Li, "The Room"