Why I am thankful for awkward stages + New Project Coming Soon

First off, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has reached out to me since the SMCJ Showcase last week. Wednesday night still doesn't completely feel real to me, and I am not quite sure I have ever felt so loved and appreciated it for my work.

Something that I have been pondering a lot since then is a question that I was asked immediately following the awards. 

"How did you start doing all this stuff?"

At first I didn't really know how to answer. I've blogged before on how I decided to try out photography, but as for digital media in general, I don't know if I have ever really sat down and tried to pinpoint where it all began.

Then it hit me - it began during my awkward stage. 

Almost every kid goes through an awkward stage. 

For some of us, that stage is a little more prolonged than it is for others. Even though at the time that stage seemed like literal torture, I could not be more thankful for mine today.

Awkward stages are pretty rewarding really. During an awkward stage, you have an opportunity to figure out what you actually like, and chances are - especially if you're an only child - you have plenty of time on your hands to explore those interests.

For most of elementary school, I only had one super solid consistent friend. Her name is Katie, and we are still best friends to this day. A friendship that begins with one kid who has no friends helping another kid who has no friends clean out a backpack that another kid had filled with rocks and dirt is a friendship that is bonded for life. 

Being an only child with only one super tight bff means one thing - lots of free time to figure out what you like to do.

I was a gamer growing up. I was super into computer stuff. I purchased my first design program at a warehouse surplus store in the fourth grade and found other software online that same year. I got made fun of a lot for being really interested in computer coding and graphic design in elementary school.

At the time, the words people said and the names I got called felt like knives, but today, they feel like my strongest allies. 

Those words helped me see that I truly care about what I am doing now. 

I always have and probably always will struggle with being a people pleaser. I hate disappointing people, and letting others down will probably always be one of my biggest fears.

Sometimes it's really hard for me to tell if I am doing stuff because I want to or because someone told me I should want to. 

You know what's one way a people pleaser can be 100% sure that he or she really cares about something?

Getting made fun of for it one day and still waking up the next day wanting to keep doing it.

I can honestly say that I would not want to be doing anything else with my life than what I am doing right now. School feels like play time a lot days for me because I absolutely love what I do so much that it feels almost unfair for me to get to call it "work."

It's still really hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I have the most supportive community that I could ask for when it comes to photography/design/video stuff. 

I don't think I will ever be able to fully put into words what the support of my friends and family means to me, but I would also like to take a step back and be thankful that I haven't always had a group of people constantly encouraging me. Figuring out that I like something enough to keep doing it no matter how many people tell me what I am doing is dumb and silly is an irreplaceable lesson. 

It makes finding a niche all the more rewarding when you realize that you've worked for something not because someone told you that you should, but because its what you wanted to do and for some reason were lucky and blessed enough to be able to do it. 

And hey, if you know of someone who is going through an awkward stage wondering if what they are passionate about is stupid or worth it - 

Be that one person who tells them it's worth it. 

You never know if one line of encouragement from you will be the tiny spark that helps them push through the negativity and doubts they may be facing. 

My mom and my best friend Katie never belittled me for wanting to be a media arts person. My mom used to sit down at dinner with me and let me tell her about what new coding trick I learned every single night because she knew that all I needed was to know that a few people believed in me. She never discouraged my goals and never said they were silly. My best friend sat in my computer room for hours and watched me design stuff for online gaming sites and never complained once because she knew that her support meant something to me. 

Be the friend that listens and encourages.

Be the person who entertains someone's dreams no matter how silly they may seem. 

And if you're wondering/doubting/contemplating/on-the-fence about whether or not your dreams are worth it - chances are they probably are.

Stop putting expectations for yourself in a box. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we all threw out the notion that our ideas and passions are silly.

If the main reason you don't want to try something is fear that other people are going to make fun of you or say it's stupid, then you're going to have to come up with a better reason to not put an idea out there.

I still have to preach that line to myself every day and some days it's a lot harder than others.

If there is one take away that I hope anyone reading this gets out of this blog it's this -

Life is too short to limit the creativity given to us out of fear that people with laugh at our ideas and belittle them.

I'm working on a new project that is based on the idea that each person has more to him or her than what meets the eye and is gifted in ways that most people may never see on a surface level.  

I am excited to share with you soon.

Thank you again for being supportive. Your encouragement means more to me than you will probably ever know. 

Love you guys,

- Kate