Hayden and I spent our four year anniversary together the way we know best; roadtrippin. We went to Marfa, Texas for a night, did a photoshoot and then went to Big Bend the next day, did another photoshoot, then traveled to Midland, Texas to spend some time with Haydens sister, Hannah. It was a wonderful trip, and as always the best part is the conversations we had in the car. One conversation in particular that stuck with me was when I started talking about people having “natural gifts” and those people excelling over those who don’t have those “natural gifts”. Hayden’s initial reaction was annoyance and frustration and maybe even a little anger. I was surprised by his reaction (isn’t it wonderful to know that even after spending 4 years together you can always find new things about the person you love) and I was also confused by his response because many people, including myself, have always said that Hayden has a “natural gift” as a drummer. He explained to me that it discredits all the hard work he has done to get where he is, and the same with other people we note as “naturally gifted”. He also explained it does a disservice to ourselves, and everyone who says they will never be successful in one thing or never be as good as so & so because they weren’t born with a “natural gift”. It sparked something in me, and I found it incredibly motivating and uplifting. He explained his perspective to me, about how he practiced every day, day in day out, and that is why he got as good as he is on the drums. He gave other examples of other artists as well. He talked about how in his high school, High school for the performing & visual arts, him and his friend would go to the visual art kids section and be amazed at their work and say comments like “man i wish i could paint like that.” And sure an aspect of this statement can be taken as a compliment, but the art kids were offended and said to them, “We work hard every single day, practicing our craft for hours just like you musicians do, to create and to be as skillful as we are.” And its true…I mean think about it logically. If you practice something long enough (and efficiently) you will succeed in it. This conversation really made me think about my own life.
I used to have a real problem with jealousy, and actually as I’m writing this right now, I realize that I used to have a problem with not knowing how to “succeed” in life. I was always overwhelmed with ideas and dreams in my head but I was never taught how to vocalize them and how to actually attain them. I would start a lot of things in my younger years and then quickly lose interest and quit, and because of that I would say to myself and others would say to me too, that I was a “quitter”. And because of that, I thought I could never really succeed or do well in something. I used to get jealous of the kids who did have something they were really good at and succeeding in… and I see this now but back then I was confused and would always say it wasn’t fair that they were “gifted” and I wasn’t. What I realize now, at 24, that I didn’t then was that it’s not that they were gifted in it and all of the sudden wala! magic! It’s not that “God forgot about me” as I would often tell myself, it was because whatever it was that they were good at, they were interested in, and practiced at it everyday and over time became better in it.
When I met Hayden, I was direction-less. I would get jealous of him because all his family and friends would praise him for how well he was at playing the drums, or school, or really anything Hayden dove himself into. I would act out and be mean to him because I was embarrassed and self conscious that I wasn’t good at anything or exceeding in anything. Sweet Hayden, bless his heart, was ever so patient with me. (And this is how I know he is a good man and a testament to God of how perfectly he was placed in my life at the right time) but sweet Hayden was patient with me and tried to tell me from the start that it’s just a lot of practice… he would try to engage me and always ask me what my goals and dreams were and he always wanted to take it a step further and actually write it out and list the steps to attain them. I was stubborn and reluctant to say the least, but he never gave up on me. Every single day, he never gave up on me. And with Hayden’s support, that is how I started photography. As annoying as it may be for all you “anti-romantics”, about a week after I met Hayden he gave me my very first DSLR Camera, his old canon 30D. Shortly after, I moved to Boston with him and that’s when i really started to dabble and explore in photography. But, being new to it, I would get overwhelmed and frustrated, I wanted over night success and i wanted to not have to put work into it. Hayden would remind me that ‘that’s not the way it works’ and that there’s really no reward in that anyway. I would always say “you don’t get it, you were naturally gifted and it’s hard for us who aren’t”. I’m sure now that that drove him crazy but he stayed true to himself and still never gave up on me. It finally clicked a few years ago, or maybe 1 year ago (time tends to mesh with me.) I think it was from him never giving up on me and smashing the idea of ‘just keep doing’ into my brain until I got it. But I got it.
Now, I work hard in my photography. I literally eat, sleep, breathe, and shit photography. Every second of every day I am studying photography, photographers, photographs. In books, on the internet, in practice itself, and even if I am on my phone I’m still studying. I am constantly researching and writing emails and trying to learn the business and do whatever I can to do this thing. Its hard work every single day and I don’t always feel like doing it everyday. But I love photography and I know what I want to do with it so I continue on and do it anyway. I learn something new everyday and I grow everyday with it. I can now see my progression and I think I might even be getting a little recognition… but the greatest lesson (and how funny that it all came together on our 4 yr anni trip) is that it all comes with hard, hard work every single day. With practice every single day. With discovery and exploration every single day. That’s how the greats become the greats. not because they were born with it. but because they stuck with it every single day. they wanted it every single day and they sought after it every single day. that is the secret to success. that is the secret to getting what you want. so please for me, for yourself, DREAM BIG because you can literally do it if you just do it every single day. Isn’t that freeing and uplifting??? that it isn’t a small percentage of the world than can go after their dreams, its everyone!!! As long as you want it bad enough, its yours. It seems like such an abstract idea but its actually really sane and completely logical. Days will be difficult, some days will be better than others, but these are the small continual steps it takes to get to the big result in the end (and even then, that’s only the beginning.) Don’t measure your success in a short day, measure it on a grand scale. I have come SO far from where I was 4 years ago. Gosh, ask anyone who really knew me! I am the happiest I have ever been in my life, I am the most confident and comfortable that I have ever been in my life. i am crying with joy, I am over joyed, there isn’t anything you cant do.
And that’s with everything, I used to always tell Hayden I wish I was as smart as you, or i wish i was as good at this as you and so on and so forth. He would just smile and tell me sweetly as he always does, “but baby you are smart.. you Can do this and that just as good, if not better” I would smile and think he’s sweet but I never believed him, until now. i mean lets face it, i never tried to be as smart or as good at english or as good at grammar…i never read the books Hayden read where he knows all these strange facts and i never cared too anyway, so how could I be jealous? But now i see that i can be everything that i thought i couldn’t, i just have to actually try and put the work into it. And not just any work, but good work. You have to put good work in. You have to explore, you have to constantly push your limits and get out of your comfort zone to really progress. It’s seriously crazy to me that i used to not want to ever put in any work but i always wanted the end result. i thought thats how it worked. and that blows my mind now. because sometimes honestly, the best part for me now is all the hard work i put in. and because of that, i have a deeper sense of understanding and knowledge and appreciation for what i do and what others do. I have a greater scope of things that i want to share. i have a deeper perspective and i have a greater drive.
Here are some self portraits we took in West Texas to celebrate 4 years together.