I should have been happy. We had a very successful photography business. I made more money photographing a single wedding than most photographers made in a year. We brought in a very healthy six-figure income with only thirty clients a year.
But if you own your own business, you have to be prepared for anything.
And one phone call changed everything.
“But you have to do it. It’s in the contract that way.”
It wasn’t the first time she’d said those words. So something made me grab her file and start reading. And there in black and white, with our initials on every page, our signatures on the back, was everything she’d said.
Back then we were naive. We emailed her a word file with our contract to print, sign, and return. She did. But what she failed to mention was her and her groom-to-be changed a few things in the contract. Things we would never have agreed to because, at that point in time, they were impossible with the current technology. Clearly, we weren’t thinking, never considered reading what she returned, and so we signed.
And our world went to hell for six months while we bent over backward, giving her everything she wanted to avoid a lawsuit.
When I put the last of her boxes into the mail, I vowed never again to let one client consume my life as much as she did. I wanted a change. I wanted a reinvention.
It wasn’t the first time I wanted a reinvention.
And it won’t be my last.
By the time that happened, I’d already changed career directions three times. Drastic career choices. From banking, to government auditing, to owning my own business kind of changes.
Still, I was human. And because I was still listening to all of the rhetoric in the world, I adhered to what the world told us we should do. The American Dream was still in my heart. A big home, stability for my daughter, a good school – that meant something to me back then.
But I was always the person that trail-blazed her way through life, learning and growing as fast as humanly possible. And as a human, I often didn’t accept change fast enough.
I regret three things that happened during my 40s.
1. We talked about moving to Florida in my mid-40s. It would have meant a new career for my husband, while I could continue to work from home. It would have required uprooting our daughter and pulling her out of middle school, something I opposed because I wanted to give her stability and security.
We should have moved.
2. We had a close-knit group of friends, the kind you feel you’ll be with forever. We bought a house and settled down to become stable within the community. Today, we’ve all gone our separate ways – two couples divorced, two moved away. While we’re still in touch online, it wasn’t quite the dream of being together as we grew old.
Friends and family change. You should always do what’s right for you, no matter how big the change.
3. I was doing a lot of research on unschooling and pulling kids out of school for a year and traveling the world. We offered our daughter the opportunity to skip sophomore year and travel. She was nervous and said no. We listened.
We should have pulled her.
Looking back, the path seems clear. But the situation always muddies in current conditions. You evaluate. You consider your options. You factor fear into it all. And you make your decision.
Even today, I’ll admit to having struggles today. Painful choices on what’s best for the ones I care about and me. It’s a part of living. And no matter how much you’ve been through in your life, no matter how prepared you are, living in the now is a complicated process.
We’re living, breathing creatures. Every day brings on new thoughts and ideas molding us into who we are to become. Me at 20 isn’t the same as me at 50. Me yesterday won’t be the same me as the one next year.
In everything I do, every regret I have, one common thread appears: just do it.
When I hold back out of fear, when I stop moving forward because I’m comfortable with today, those are the chances for change I’ll most likely regret.
Reinvention means stopping the fear-based questions before they begin? What if it’s bad? What if I don’t like it? What if it messes everything up?
To write your own reinvention story and turn it into something positive, you have to rewrite the way you ask. What will push me to be better? What will add to my life? What will help me become who I want to become?
Only then will you move into the best YOU yet.