A New Kind of Thank You | McGowan Images Blog


A New Kind of Thank You

At least once a month, and sometimes more, something happens that makes me question my place in the industry. Sometimes it’s a “mean girl” situation. Sometimes I catch myself being jaded, or even becoming that “mean girl” in my own mind. Sometimes it happens when I run across the blog of a photographer I’ve never heard of, and I’m blown away by their work. I know I should just be challenged (in a good way), and inspired, but instead, I sometimes find myself shrinking down like the Wicked Witch of the West in a puddle of dirty water.

Woe is me.

There are people out there who are so much better than us. Just miles and miles and miles better. I know that. I’ve never claimed to be the best in the world. But we DO want to continue to grow and get better, and we always want to remain proud of our product, and sometimes I feel like reaching that world-class level of consistently astounding imagery is just an unattainable wish.

And if I’m being completely honest here… I know there are some people who believe it IS an unattainable goal for us.

But it is when I sink down the very deep-darkest point and feel like just giving up altogether that I see a little glimpse of light. It’s small, but it’s there. That light is doubt itself.

Not my own, but the doubt of others.

When I was just starting out, I wasn’t brave enough to write down my goals or say them out loud or really reach for them. I became brave enough when a friend told me that it’d never happen… that it was irresponsible for me to invest money in a hobby when I clearly wasn’t talented enough to make a living out of it.

That person’s doubt was the driving force behind yelling my goal from a mountaintop… “I will be a full-time wedding photographer!!” And I met that goal two years earlier than I intended to, because the fire that her doubt lit underneath me was a powerful one.

We’ve been blessed every step of the way with really wonderful encouragers and supporters, like my parents, and some of my best friends, and the photographer who shot our wedding. Not one of those people told us anything would be easy, but they DID tell us we had what it takes to make it if we’d really try. Their support has been invaluable.

But, for better or worse, the negative forces have been just as valuable. And while I try to take time pretty often to thank those positive influences in our lives, I don’t think I’ve ever said, “Thank You” to the people who told me I couldn’t do it.

So here it is:

Thank you to the naysayers.

Thank you for telling me it would never work, because that gave me a reason to celebrate when it DID work.

Thank you for telling me it was impossible, because you helped me believe in miracles.

Thank you for telling me I wasn’t talented enough to make it, so that when I DID make it, I knew I was talented.

Thank for not believing in me, so that I had to believe in myself.

Thank you for the back-biting and down-talking and every other sly secret move you made against my success, whether you knew it or not. Your opposing force in my life has made me stronger, as I know I can never be complacent.

And now, as we take our first steps in a new year and prepare for a new era of this business you said we’d never have, I thank you sincerely for your doubt. I have learned over the last 4 years that, apparently, I work best under pressure.

So come on, doubters. Doubt as hard as you possibly can. Because together, we’re proving Impossible WRONG every single day.

TELL ME, dear blogstalkers… what’s a goal you have? It can be something that’s common knowledge, but I encourage you to dig way down deep and confess a goal you’ve been too scared to say out loud. It’s a new dawn, my friends. If you can’t even say it, how will you ever achieve it?

Let’s prove our doubters wrong and make 2012 the year of no excuses. TOGETHER.

  1. Natalie says:

    Chelsea, I am so proud of you and this post! You’re right it does take a lot of guts to put it out there on the blog and say what you needed to say.
    I am a HUGE believer of turning negatives into positives. The negatives like a failed relationship, a lost job or worse the loss of a friend or family memeber can be resons for people to want to hide and feel down about “what has happened to them” instead of going out in the world and living their life. Also, letting the disapproval of others stand in your way is only harming yourself and the potential people you could help!
    Fear that you are not good enough needs to be fought with every possible positive thought you have! I’ve started asking myself, what makes them better or more worthy of success than me? I always end up with the same answer -NOTHING!
    My goal is to own my own business and create fame for myself as an expert in my niche by providing a service to the dental community offering accurate and timely details on their patients’ dental insurance benefits and coaching dental practices how to use that information to improve their business and the health of their patients.
    You have led by example and shown me that with hard work and faith that IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU! We can have what we want, if we are willing to go out and get it! I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again, meeting you was such a blessing! Not only because you were able to beautifully photograph my wedding miraculously at the last minute, but because you have been a source of inspiration that I could never have predicted. Thank you for having the guts to follow your dreams and inspire mine!

  2. Renee says:

    Thanks for posting Chelsea. I never really thought about my goals at this stage in my life until now. I have one goal for many years that seems to never get done, and that’s to lose weight. Hopefully this year will be the year I can truly attain it!

  3. Angela says:

    I’m like that too. Tell me I can’t do it, and I WILL find a way. In your case – there are so many people who would have thrown their dream to the wind, so I applaud you that you dug deep and found the courage to pursue what you wanted most. And better yet is the fact that you’ve succeeded immensely! My lofty goal for the year is to turn my blog into a book. Big dream, but I’m determined to work hard to do it.

  4. Bre says:

    Love this post – I found it absolutely inspiring. Thank you! I’ve never thought about looking at personal success in such a light. Though voiced before I’ll still share; my goal is to be a novelist. Forget the haters – there are people who believe that your work is amazing and who see your obvious talent {I’m one of them!}

  5. Amanda J. says:

    Total disclosure: whenever you’ve irked me, I’ve succumbed to negative, petty thoughts about you and your work, regardless of their validity. So, you’re welcome! I am proud of you, though. You and Mack have worked insanely hard to get where you are. Just because you love what you do doesn’t mean it’s easy to do or easy to succeed at it. Putting your goals out there does seem to make them more tangible and it also helps you to hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to give up on a secret goal. So here are mine: I want to fit back into my favorite pair of jeans and I want to actually COMPLETE several of the short stories I have written down ideas for. You should post follow up blogs 6 months and a year from now to see if we’re all holding strong!

  6. Ambo says:

    I am so beyond proud of you friend! You are amazing and talented and beautiful inside and out and I’m always here to shoot those negative comments away and help you see the positive in their doubts(even though over the last few years you are learning to do it yourself) 😉 love you!

  7. I haven’t even read this whole post yet (don’t worry, I’m about to go back to the top and read every word) and I’m a) tearing up b) nodding my head and c) totally in awe of you and your honesty. I SOOOO feel you on this!!!

  8. Cindy Crabb says:

    Chelsea (and Mack!),

    Actually I was just talking to a Photog from Florida this morning. He’s been in the business for 2 decades, and he felt that he was losing his desire and freshness. He asked me if I had any inspiration for him. I told him, yes indeed I did, and sent him to your website.
    I’ve had the joy of watching you grow over the years until the point you guys have me smiling everytime I look at your photos.
    You guys have the most refreshing outlook. And it’s plain fun to see.
    I really love this blog post. You are special because you are different AND because you’re super talented. And like you guys, I love to prove people wrong.

    My goal this year is: to blog more. And guess who inspired me to do that, Miss Chatty Kathy? Your blog is fun, and enjoyable to see, and you have inspired me to let people get to know us a bit more. While I’m no wordsmith, I hope my readers will find me a bit more human. And that my dear, is due to your inspiration.

    Now get back to showing the nay sayers that they are wrong. Being the great cooks you are, I imagine you have a nice recipe for crow.

    Cindy and Mike

  9. Misty says:

    YOU guys are an inspiration, never forget that!!! I can’t tell you how insanely jealous — I MEAN incredibly happy for you 😉 — it makes me to see you living the dream of being a professional photographer, and not just that, but making an incredibly successful business out of it with your hubbie! To hell (can I say that on here???) with any detractors, you and Mack have worked extremely hard to get to where you are, learning as you went and honing your craft, with incredible progress to show for it! You’ve done this work for yourselves, by yourselves, so you can stand on your own merit, and that’s priceless. AND there’s nowhere to go from here but UP! All the best to the McGs in 2012!!! <3

  10. Sarah Burns says:

    First off, Chelsea… let me just say how much I LOVE you for posting this blog. I have no doubt you’ve given the push that a lot of people have been needing to hear. I’m so thankful that your work and business exists. It makes my day to simply go on your blog and see you living your dream. I’m like a little kid watching their idol succeed before their own eyes.
    I love the picture you used for this blog post! It’s has such a warm/winter feel. Great shot!
    A couple of dreams I have is to have my own photography business, but another one I don’t tell very many people is that I want to start a pet rescue center. I am a true animal lover, and if I can save homeless animals, or return a lost one to the right owners… I’d feel awesome simply doing that. I’ve also always wanted to get popular on YouTube. 😛

    Thank you again for posting this and keep up the awe inspiring work!

  11. Scotty O says:

    Haters be hatin’!

    I remember the first McG blog I saw was when you did the one of just BreAnn when you were getting your feet off the ground, since then been a follower. You guys started out a really great photog team, and today youre an even better one!

    My personal goal? To FINALLY finish school before I turn 50… hate that haters. thumb/nose

  12. Liesa says:

    Most of my goals are apparent and not super secretive, but posting them makes them official, right?
    1) Finish wedding planning without freaking out (so far…successful, but we will see)
    2) Obtain admission to TCU’s graduate program for becoming an SLP
    3) Travel with my Mom (and a few others) to Scotland to find connections to the geneology we’ve traced. And to attempt Scottish brogue. 😉
    4) Travel with Rob out of the country multiple times, hopefully before we have kiddos.
    5) To actually have my hair dyed professionally (I’m cheap, and scared).
    6) To become (in my own eyes, the hardest part) a really good cook. 🙂

    I know I have more but these are what came to mind. Thanks for the fun and inspirational blog. 🙂

  13. MaryAnn says:

    I’ve been blessed to outdo my doubters multiple times and they ARE motivators…from surviving two heart attacks that should have killed me, to singing backup in a rock band at age 40, to walking 60 miles in 3 days 10 years after those heart attacks, to finishing grad school in counseling psychology when I was losing brain cells at a rapidly increasing pace. Now to the next dreams: to write my best seller “List” book or ebook, to complete 3000 hours of counseling in the next 5 years, to pass my National Licensing exam and to eradicate breast cancer (or at least be a small part of that endeavor). Now, this “hater” would tell you that having a clean, neat home is the one dream I probably won’t achieve. 🙂

  14. Nicole says:

    It’s late to just now be posting a comment, but I’ve truly pondered about your post since I read it earlier today. After reading it, I felt inspired to come up with some goals that I felt were important to me. So here goes my honesty…1) Improve my photography skills to a point where I feel more confident in saying “I have a part time photography business.” 2)Become a better advocate for my patients and, one day, become an advocate on a broader level. 3) And…this is personal…finally and truly complete the grieving process and let go of a family member who seems to have no problem letting go of me. And to end my goals on a fun note…4) To travel extensively with my husband! I’ll also say “thank you” to your nay-sayers because, without them, you wouldn’t have this blog to inspire me in numerous ways.

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