When I first began to test the waters in photography I had the seemingly endless support of my friends and family. What I was doing was “cool” and “interesting” and “fun.”
Flash forward a few months and I was beginning to get some work here and there. Now I had to leave the party early. The “hobby” became a little harder to accept for my many around me. It was not long before slightly passive aggressive comments made their appearance. What was once cool, interesting and fun was now feeling more of a hindrance.
Moving ahead again in time the occasional commentaries have now become direct critiques and questions.
“It is not like you are photographing anything big.”
“Do you really think it matters?”
“Come on, it is not that important.”
At this point I was no longer in a position to leave the party early. I was never making it to the party. There was a job I had to do the next day, or I was heading out of town for another project that weekend.
The invites stopped coming.
Through the grapevine I started to hear the negative fall out from my friends.
“It’ll never work.”
“He is fooling himself.”
“He just does it to feel important.”
When I did make it out to see people it was a barrage of “well look who decided to show up” and “felt like slumming it this weekend?” Obviously I was not as welcome as I had once been.
It is now more than a decade later and this scenario has played itself out more than a few times. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you’ve faced a similar situation where you engulfed and invested yourself into something you were passionate about and you lost the support and understanding of those close to you.
It is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in the path of those who are driven to achieve something, anything. It tests your devotion and dedication to what you are doing as you begin to see the non-financial costs to your pursuit.
The hindsight, from someone who has gone down this road constantly, is that the solitude is not forever. The more you immerse yourself into what you truly care about, the more you open yourself up to others who share your insights, interests and passions.
Looking back I cannot be mad at my old friends, as I was the one who had changed. Their reactions, regardless of how they were received, were not intended to mar. They simply were responding to a situation without the full understanding of the reason why I was doing what I was.
So although I don’t have a massive phone book of college buddies that I can still get together with; what I do have is the strongest of connections to fellow professionals who are closer than any previous friendships I’ve had.