Earlier this week, I arrived at a shoot in a location where I had never shot before. I had checked out the location before this session, so I knew it was a beautiful place with almost too many cool spaces to take a photo. I arrived about 30 minutes before my client, as is my habit, so I can have a little time to walk the area, calm my mind, and step out of Mom-mode into photographer mode. For about 20 minutes I had the area all to myself. I walked around, took in the scenery, and breathed in the quiet.
After about 20 minutes I noticed car after car arriving to the location where I was going to be shooting. After a few more moments, as I walked to meet my client, I was literally dodging photographers in order to get to my client. As I walked from spot to spot, it felt much like the game Frogger, hopping from spot to spot in order to steer clear of another photographers shot. At one point during the evening, I actually paused to count the number of other photographers with who I shared this tiny spot in this tiny town. It took a while, but I eventually got the final count: there were 864 of us.
(And no, I never, ever, exaggerate.) (Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but you get my point, right?)
After taking a final photo of my client, I slung my camera bag over my shoulder and used all my ninja skills to dodge the other 843 photographers as I weaved my way back to my car. As I walked back toward my car, I watched the other photographers positioning their clients, clicking their shutter buttons, following their hearts, passions, and creating beautiful images and one thought repeated in my mind. . . one of a million.
One of a million.
One of a million.
One of a million.
I’m one of a million.
I got back into my car and began the nearly hour drive home from the location. The evening was warm and beautiful golden light surrounded me. I drove through winding country roads and, as I drove, I noticed the way the light danced between the swaying leaves high up in the trees. As I drove, my mind returned to the crowd of photographers, in the teeny-tiny town, in the teeny-tiny space where I had just been and the phrase repeated in my mind. . . one of a million, one of a million, one of a million.
I’m just one of a million.
I’m not going to lie. By the time I pulled into the garage, I had worked myself into quite a hole. Doubt began creeping into my heart–why did I leave the job for which I was trained? What was I thinking to throw away my degree? Did I make a mistake? How can I possibly impact the world by clicking a button alongside of 843 other photographers (multiplied by a zillion?).
I’ve thought about this for a few days. I’ve rolled it around in my mind and tossed and turned it and have tried to dig myself out of the hole that I created with my own mind. Yesterday, I was discussing all of this with Chad (I know, he’s a lucky man isn’t he?) and he listened as he always does and laughed a little at my neuroticism and told me, you know, there are some of us out here that are just happy in the skin we have.
I think I did a fairly good job at hiding my annoyance that he didn’t see this as a dire situation like I did, I understand that, I told him, but I’m not one of those people. (He’s thrilled about this fact, I know.) I continued, I don’t think any of us is supposed to be one of a million. We are all different, we all have different stories, different DNA, different histories, different thoughts, different perspectives. None of us are supposed to blend, I told him.
You see, this is what I know. There are so many of us out here doing similar things with our lives. We are photographers, teachers, students, mothers, fathers, athletes, wives, husbands, entrepreneurs, coaches, friends, writers, dreamers, creatives, on and on and on. The only thing that separates us from everyone else is us. The only thing that separates me from the other 843 photographers in that teeny-tiny town is me.
No one else has my story. No one else has my perspective. No one else has my history. No one else has my DNA. No one else has my mind. No one else has my voice.
No one else has your story. No one else has your perspective. No one else has your history. No one else has your DNA. No one else has your mind. No one else has your voice.
The thought that there never has been and never will be another person on the planet with the exact story as mine feels freeing and exciting and beautiful. And what I am trying (ever so slowly) to learn is that as I embrace the unique story and perspective with which I was created, the one OF a million becomes one IN a million.
I have not won this fight yet. This battle of becoming, accepting, and resting in the person I am is one that I am constantly on the front lines fighting. My voice, experience, history, and story is the only truly authentic thing that I have and I believe if I’m going to impact (even a small part) of the world, it is important that I use it.
And deep inside me, I believe we are all supposed to be one in a million.
Peace & Love, Friends.