The following blog is very specifically about what has happened prior to realising a major dream of mine I never thought that would happen; because I think it's important to share that my story is not any different then yours. I didn't wake up one day and got here. And I want to be real about that and I hope it might inspire you or someone out there to not give up; no matter what life might throw at you.
You know these moments in life where you got to pinch yourself every three seconds to know if this is reality or not? The past two weeks have been like that for me. And probably you know why if you saw the title: I'm one of the five Broncolor Gen NEXT ambassadors for the year 2018.
The other reason why I need to write this down is not just to share this amazing milestone; but one I want to talk about a lot more. The thing is when people "see" these kind of achievements and success stories; you will feel like you would never get there because so much went wrong, can go wrong and you simply aren't there yet. It feels like they're just doing all of that when waking up in the morning like it's nobodies business with a big smile and a portfolio to say "damn son" too when you open it for the first time.
The short version: I was going to quit my business end of 2017. We're june 2018 now and I am here, being an ambassador for Broncolor and working towards the biggest future ever.
The long version (what really happened and why you should néver give up despite all that went wrong and what made you discouraged or worse): Not even six months back, I was on a road to wrapping up everything I had fought for in the past years and simply decide to live a more simple life away from the ambitions and freelancing career in the art and photography industry. For someone who used to be obsessed with creating, shooting almost every single day and just never giving up in the face of anything: deciding to wrap it all up was a decision I made because I was severely burned up and started to realise that I really wasn't getting anywhere. The year itself, 2017, was very unkind for me as well on many levels and I was in heavy financial terror with bills (and not just 100 or 200 bills, we're talking surprise bills of 1000 and 2000 and things like that because of business, a broken heating system in my old place, medical bills and a minor surgery and above that: just me losing my passion completely). A lot of people where deeply shocked and surprised to hear in the last months of 2017 that things where that bad as I just kept shooting and sharing (which was my way of escaping reality in the worst way possible.
My mantra is: if it doesn't work out, maybe it's time to change things up. For me it started to mean I had to quit photography. I had succeeded my dream (which was being a professional) and I had nothing else to fight for so the idea of going for a mediocre and simple lift felt very tempting and welcoming in my burned up heart.
So I decided to give the second half of november and december (2017) to see and make a decision, as it was a big one that would affect me heavily either way. And for every single day, I realised it was more and more and more to just moving on with things. It only changed in the last week of december, even the last three days maybe. Suddenly a deep realisation hit me and I made enough cash to cover my bills (with my business!) and it was like I "woke up" and fully and deeply realised what the consequentes would be.
As you're reading this, you probably saw this coming. It's hard to explain in words - also due to my own privacy and that of my surroundings - what really happened behind the social media. But it was severely bad and for me, losing my passion for art, was impossible to comprehend.
I guess I also should have seen it coming that even a full year of absolute fuckery that only got worse and worse couldn't stop my inner ambitious personality to kick back. It's something I just admitted to myself as well that my goals are god damn sky high and I shouldn't be embarassed about it or the fact I love earning money and running a business; even though I got so much to learn. And as much I often wish I would be happy with "less" in life; I guess I'm just that kinda person that wants to conquer the world in my own happy, little way.
So I decided to continue, still pretty much broke and depressed but kinda ... stubborn. Very stubborn about things. I think the weeks and months after where pure discipline and willpower; similar to when I somehow passed 6 major summer exams (and tripling my grades) and managing myself through my final exams with the worst heartbreak after as my first real love broke up with me 2 days prior. I was determined beyond words to just fix this shit up and get myself together and I did.
I decided to focus on what made me happy and to find out what sold. I started working hard and removing things that bothered me or take action against things that didn't feel right. It was hard. Very hard. I lost friends very dear to me and I had to take a lot of hits from outside forces. I also beated myself up a lot. And I signed up for the Broncolor Gen NEXT (again, this was my 3rd attempt I think ... so it's not that I never tried before). I also went on a break for 2 months from shooting personal work and barely took on any clients so I could take care of myself. It was rough and weird but also liberating and inspiring. I started shooting again, I'm working towards an entire new portfolio and I'm expanding my visions and what my business stands for. Opportunities are coming up and this time, I'm going to grab them with two hands and nightless sleeps because no matter what happens next; I cannot give up after coming this far; after all these years. I wish I could go back to old me(s) and tell them all everything will be allright after all. That all these bullies and weird looks are going to turn into a business that invites clients from all over the world to learn from you, that people as far as Slovakia and Finland will come to Belgium to work with you and portray them in photographs. The freelance life is hard but every single second is so worth it because I'm able to actually pursue this and I realised I cannot take all of this for granted, ever again. Because it became such a part of my "regular daily life" - one I can live now kinda healthy and as the one and only boss I will ever need to work for again ; which is myself.
And now I'm here. I'm going to Switserland this summer to meet the Broncolor team (!!!) and I've gotten some really awesome emails for opportunities. And also: I'm feeling alive again. We only have one life and I decided to make it the best possible, even if that means failing all over again. Guess that just happens when you chase those crazy dreams ...