Thoughts on Loneliness and Being Self-employed
I am feeling particularly and oddly alone tonight. Odd, because I have spent a wonderfully pleasant sunny day on the road with the kids on the mainland, visiting the Field Trial/Cocker Spaniel puppy, Molly, who will be joining our family here at Sigridsminde in a month's time.
In more general terms, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I have everything I need. I KNOW this. But bare with me for a minute (or... if you don't want to... feel free to stop reading and hop on along the interweb roads :-)
For those of you who are already knee deep in running your own business solo you might know the kind of loneliness I am talking about. For those of you dreaming of or planning to start your own business and going it alone, these thoughts might make you think more intentionally about how you want to set yourself up and work on a daily basis moving forward.
I started my photography business almost 9 years ago. Over the course of those years I have developed close friendships with a few handfuls of extremely creative, talented, compassionate and passionate women who are entrepreneurs/business owners/self-employed and with whom I have sought advice and inspiration again and again, meanwhile hopefully giving as much as I was getting. And although I know that they all genuinely wish me nothing but success, at the end of the day there is a limit to how much time and interest I can expect them to put into MY business. They have their own life and business to run, their own dreams to seek out, and their own clients to care for.
I am by no means a hermit, but I have always consciously enjoyed being in my own company, spent hours drawing, painting and reading in my room, preferred working on school projects and papers by myself so I could do things exactly the way I wanted them to be done. I formed very very few close relationships, usually preferring the platonic company of boys instead of that of other girls whose group dynamics I never really understood or liked. When I was 16, my parents split up, my mother fell apart in every way a person possibly can and I became more of a parent than a child in the following decade. That whole time, I went out of my way to make sure I depended on no one. In some ways, however mad it sounds, I still keep even my husband, who I have been with for 14 years, at arms length. Even though he has proved himself time and time again as I struggled to find my way back to myself after "losing" my mother, years of stress and the subsequent depression 2 years ago.
Supported by the wonderful collaborations I sought out, I had absolutely no issues with working alone on my photography business for the first seven years. Many have approached me over the years to work with me as my assistant, intern or second shooter, and although I gave it serious thought each time, I was never realy tempted to say yes. But about 1½ years ago all this started to change slowly, until now, like tonight the loneliness of dealing with both the ups and downs, the successes and the failures, brings me to tears. I am fully aware that these emotions relating to my business are emphasised by the fact that my husband's job means that I am alone in both my relationship and my parenting our two kids for 6 months out of the year with him on the opposite side of the globe.
When I was named among the top 3 wedding photographers in Scandinavia two years in a row, I barely stopped to think about it, although looking back at my first year as a photographer, it is a wonderful accolade I should be enormously proud of. I have let many achievements and successes go by relatively celebration-free because there was no one else who truly knew and felt along with me exactly how much they meant. And many complications or questions have gone unsolved or unanswered because there was no one to debate them with at the moment or on the day it was needed.
Now, the need for a real partner is heartfelt. Someone to move forward with as I slowly transform my wedding photography business into a broader lifestyle brand here at Sigridsminde. I am not naive. I know a business partnership comes with its enturely own set of challenges and concerns to be dealt with. I don't know yet what I will do about all of this, but if you have any experience or input on this issue, I will be happy to hear it. And those of you who have gone the distance alone, have you experienced that a close collaboration with a business coach was able to substitute the need for an actual business partner?
The photos below are from yesterday morning's daily 5 am walk around my garden, to let out the chickens and enjoy the sunrise.