I've Been To Paradise, but I've Never Been To Me.
Updated: Apr 6
A month after I left Mr. & Mrs. Smith Dentistry behind, I woke up one morning in a bit of a panic. Back story: The a.m.'s are pretty dismal for me. The worst, emotionally-apocalyptic thoughts come to mind. Everything is awful, and my life is meaningless. This happens within just moments of me opening my eyes, and when I finally do manage to extricate myself from the bed, I feel as if someone should thank me for doing so. "Oh, Robert! You are triumphant once again! Here's a bag of money." More on that bag later.
Back to the panic: I woke up sweating, feeling as if I had done nothing in making my photography business a reality, and that all my money was going to evaporate, and I would be hooking on the corner of Desperate and Not-Bad-Looking-For-50 within a few weeks. Then imposter syndrome chimed in: "Who am I to think I can do this? Everyone is a photographer these days. What makes me so special, and why does Madonna's face look like that?" My brain loves to throw in a non-sequitur. In typical fashion, I wasn't giving myself credit where credit was due, and I certainly wasn't allowing myself the grace to recover from a nightmare, but clearly there was some underlying anxiety to contend with. Contrary to my troubled mind, I had been doing the work. Everyday, I was in full research mode with everything from the technical, to the art, to the business of photography. "But what about money, Robert? How are you going to live?" That was an odd thought as well. It wasn't a worry. I had farmed myself out as a dental consultant. It was perfect timing, my schedule was my own, and the money was good. I had what I needed. I had the time to begin laying the groundwork for my business, and I was still able to pay my bills. So, where was this anxiety coming from? After a hot cup of bitter that morning, and some really bad stream of consciousness poetry, I realized it was a combination of fear, and childish impatience.
In the past, I never enjoyed a process. I always wanted to get right to the product, so if I ever found myself not immediately excelling at something, I would self-sabotage. Like the time in the early 2000's when I thought I could make a million dollars by hosting Sassy Parties. Sassy Parties were Tupperware parties for sex toys. I thought, "If can sell dentistry, I know I can sell sex!" Trouble is, when selling anything, you have to be willing to do the work. I didn't want to do the work. I just wanted to party, talk dirty, and get paid for it. Worked for Paris Hilton at the time, so why not for a cute 30 something gay man with low-rise Levis, and no self-confidence? DAMN! There it was: I was worried I would tumble (again) into that black hole that is Robert's Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Failure. For a moment, I was grateful for the realization, but then it occurred to me that not only was I going to need to enjoy the process of building a business, but I was going to have to take care of mental health as well. I've always said that self-care is sexy. Self-sabotage is boring. It leads to whining, and late nights with a can of Easy Cheese, Triscuits, and binge watching The Golden Girls. That's not sexy...it's flatulence.
**More later. Now, I need a Triscuit.**