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A Circular Path

Text by: Jessica Ceason

I guess I'm one of those lucky folk who can say they've always had a passion for one thing. Actually, I have passion for a lot of things, and that's what was so confusing about getting where I am at the moment. Only, I figured out how to wrap all of those passions into one, strong, meaningful, heartfelt, lifelong pursuit.
© Jessica Ceason Photography

I'm a photographer. I didn't just buy a camera and then decide to put the word, "photography" after my name. I tried and failed and quit and made mistakes, succeeded, then quit again and cried my way to being a photographer. I didn't become one just so I could say I am one, or to make money, or be self-employed, or run a business, because after I first uttered the words, "I am a photographer" I realized, I didn't care if I made money, went broke, never sold a print in my entire life. I was a photographer for me. I wanted to be one. If I wanted something after my name, I'd use "MA ED," because I have a master's degree in education. But that's not my passion.

It wasn't even a week after I graduated with my big, fancy degree that I declared my new career path not in teaching. I was pen to envelope, set to mail my teaching certification application, and my tears could have practically made Sharpie mud on the paper. Throughout the course of completing the degree, I was excited, because I do love children and all of the rewarding things that come with watching small humans have first-time revelations about life, but I realized I could watch that using my camera too.

It was a difficult and ridiculously expensive decision, but I made it. I declared my decision to call myself a full time photographer in the way every important announcement is made in modern times — a Facebook status update. It was official. I walked over to my office to "revamp" it from that of a teacher to a photographer and realized it needed no revamping. My office belonged to a photographer the entire time. It was just patiently waiting for me to make the right decision.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

If it was not painful to get here, it wouldn't be a passion. Throughout the course of running my business, gaining clients, and making friends, I'm often asked, "How did you find your passion?" I didn't. My passion found me. I didn't seek loving one thing or another. I have always loved this thing and can recall having loved it from a very early age. A passion doesn't have to be an art or a skill, but for me it is. It wasn't just photography I felt passionate about. It was wanting so desperately to show people things that are beautiful, the way I see them.

On this path, I went from photographer, to psychologist, to teacher, and back to photographer. The circular motion of my well-trotted journey only reinforced the very simplistic advice I've received on more than one, two, or three occasions: "go with your gut." Your gut will tell you exactly what your passion is.

"What is Your Passion?"

(…courtesy of Julia Cameron of The Artist's Way)

If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them? I would be a pilot, a cowhand, a physicist, a psychic, and a monk. You might be a scuba diver, a cop, a writer of children's books, a football player, a belly dancer, a painter, a performance artist, a history teacher, a healer, a coach, a scientist, a doctor, a Peace Corps worker, a psychologist, a fisherman, a minister, an auto mechanic, a carpenter, a sculptor, a lawyer, a painter, a computer hacker, a soap-opera star, a country singer, or a rock-and-roll drummer. Whatever occurs to you, jot it down. Do not overthink this exercise.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

The point of these lives is to have fun in them, more fun than you might be having in this one. Look over your list and select one. Then do it this week. For instance, if you put down country singer, can you pick a guitar? If you dream of being a cowhand, how about some horseback riding?

Polite Society Challenge: Dream your dream and find your passion. Come daydream with us and catch a vision of what your inner artist longs to be.