Be Unbreakable

Today was an interesting day for me. Kind of got me thinking deep about my dreams, goals and current emotions. It has been a wonderful and strenuous last couple of months. I feel like if I needed to describe it in one word it would be: VULNERABILITY. I keep typing and erasing and typing and erasing. What I am feeling is hard to write down but I want to so badly so I can look back on it one day and say, “YES! I DID IT!”

I have recently started my photography business. I have been doing it on my own this last year and am finally getting the ball rolling. I have GONE PUBLIC. SCAAAARY!!!  It is my dream to be a photographer and it has been since I was a little girl. It has not been an easy road to get here but I am happy to say that I have arrived. I am ready for the future and ready to finally start living my dream.

You may think that my experience today has nothing to do with photography. But it did for me. It inspired me and motivated me. Just stay with me okay?……

So today I was sitting in my drawing and composition class. It is a required course for my major, and so far I have enjoyed it. Goodness, I am NOT a fantastic drawer.. if that is even a word. Don’t get me wrong, I love to doodle, but I am no Picasso. The only reasons I registered for the class was because it was required and I thought it would be fun for me and good for my photographers eye.  The class has been pretty intimidating. I am surrounded by LEGIT ARTISTS that mean serious business. No one talks to anyone in that class, there is no lecture and absolutely no interaction whatsoever. I was surprised by this at the first of the semester. I kind of thought the professor was going to teach me how to draw, but nope. haha. He introduces a new project, whether its pencil or charcoal or pastel and etc, and then sets us loose. I watch videos to teach me techniques and then I practice. I am not going to lie I have been pretty proud of myself. As long as I don’t compare myself to my classmates, I leave the class feeling pretty good. In all honesty, I am probably the least experienced/skilled student in the class but I have managed to keep up with everyone else. This is not meant to be arrogant, I am just proud of my hard work. That is the key- hard work.

Well, in my art class we turned in our big drawing pads last week to be graded for midterm. I didn’t think much of it because I had done all of the required projects, showed up for class and had worked hard.  Wasn’t too worried. He then started handing back our grades. I got mine and froze. B. I got a B? But why? I looked down the paper and saw his markings on the required projects, NOT ONE DRAWING got full credit. At this point my face was flushed, my eyes burned and my chest was tight. So basically my professor didn’t think I was good enough for an A? I could hear him in the background praising students for their work and hanging some of them up. But mine? Only B worthy, clearly. I was embarrassed and upset and also maybe a tad bitter.


This same day in a previous class we had learned about creativity and how it was impossible to fail at. Our creation’s success can not be determined by others, only ourself. But here in my drawing class I felt like I was in fact being graded on that, or maybe my skills, but that was almost worse! This was a beginning class and I was being self taught.  I know I know, a B? Not that big of a deal. Shouldn’t make a fuss about it. But I was fussing. It meant so much more to me then just a silly grade. I was working hard, and I thought I did a good job. How could my teacher determine that my drawings weren’t good enough for an A. They were MY drawings, not his. The whole thing sort of boiled down to the fact that I was being vulnerable, and I wanted my work to be accepted. Whether it was drawing or photography or anything else. I had made something, with hard work, and it was being judged harshly. It was my worst nightmare.

So basically I was upset, and stuck. There I sat with a blank page in front of me, expected to start my next project. I couldn’t though, not until I confronted my problem. I called my professor over and put my artwork in front of him. I said, “I want to know why I didn’t receive full points and what needs to be improved for my upcoming project. What was wrong?” I wanted to see if my score was legit. Did I forget an important concept? Were they not complete or something? Clearly he wasn’t marking me down because he didn’t think they were good enough, right? My pride was hurt. Well his response was less than satisfactory. He took me through each piece and said things such as, “you needed to blend here more” and “you lacked a contrast in darks and lights” and “I thought more could have been done here to make it exciting”, etc etc etc. BLAH BLAH BLAH..

What I wanted to say to him was, “you suck, now leave.” Instead I just nodded and said, “okay, thank you,” and tried to pull my thoughts together. He marked me down because he didn’t think they were good enough, despite my hours and hours of work. Maybe I could have blended there better, but I remember specifically choosing not to blend because thats how I liked it. Maybe one of those things he pointed out I could learn from and improve on for my next piece but I thought the way he went about the whole thing was just wrong. It was more than an art grade. I took it personal because everything I am doing right now in my life is up for critiques and likes and dislikes and so on. Despite my minor internal meltdown I am glad with what happened next. I felt a fire inside of me be lit. Did I like my professor’s answer? NO. Did I agree with the way he conducted and graded his class? NO. Was I going to stop trying? NO NO NO!

MAN OH MAN did he start something. He just fueled my fire, my motivation to succeed. Little does he know how much I have put into my photography and art and passions lately. Little does he know how much work and how many hours I have spent learning and learning and practicing to be better. Did I care if I was good at drawing? nah. Did I want to be successful at photography? More than anything. I have strived so much to find myself, my style, my passions, my everything these last couple of months. I take pictures, evaluate, critique, learn and take more. And more. And more. AND MORE. I post them for the world to see and cross my fingers they are accepted. I watch videos. I read. I practice. I have poured my soul into my photography these last couple of months because I want to be good. I want to be successful. I want to capture beauty, and moments and memories and let people have them and cherish them forever. I want to share my love with others through my photography and I want to do it my way. My work is different than others, and I am thankful for that. I have SO MUCH TO LEARN. But I am SO SICK of comparing myself to others and allowing the fear of failure HOLD ME BACK. This B on my midterm was sensitive to me because I have felt lately like my work and photography is constantly out their in the world to either be accepted or rejected. I could end up thinking like that my entire life, but I am so over that. I realize I have a lot to learn and I will continue to get better and improve the rest of my life. But whether I am successful or not is up to me. I determine my grade. I determine whether I am working hard enough, or being sincere enough or taking the time necessary to succeed. MY SUCCESS IS NOT DETERMINED BY OTHERS. Everyone has room in this world to succeed.

I am a new photographer. And with that comes a lot of anxiety and pressure. But with that also comes freedom and excitement. I am so thrilled to be starting this journey because I love it. And I think that I could be really great at it. My confidence in myself is key. I am tired of not believing in myself. Wow. I feel like screaming and sobbing and laughing and jumping around. CRAM SAND DRAWING PROFESSOR. You know what? THANK YOU FOR THE B. He has no idea the fire he has lit. Who cares if my drawings don’t get hung up on the wall. They are amazing.

Bradon sent me a simple but powerful text after I got my grade and thought I was going to throw pastels at my professor. He said, “Be unbreakable.”  You know what? I am.

I am unbreakable.

So for all of you out there second guessing yourself. Thinking maybe that you aren’t good enough, or it’s too hard or too scary to try. Tell those doubts to get out and


After I raged and felt empowered and all that during this typing fest I had a photo shoot. And you know what? I. Nailed. It. I feel so motivated right now to TAKE ON THE WORLD. All is well. All is well. Best B I have ever been given.

(some pics of this blue eyed babe from my session tonight)

Smith Halloween Mini  (16 of 26).jpgSmith Halloween Mini  (12 of 26).jpgSmith Halloween Mini  (7 of 26).jpg





2 thoughts on “Be Unbreakable

  1. Haley,
    This post was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you so much! You are such a sweet and loving person. Honestly if it was me, I don’t know if I could have kept my cool like you did with your professor. I am very impressed, especially that you made this negative and horrible experience into one that will make you a stronger and even better photographer. You make me feel like I can achieve my dreams because of how hard you work at yours. Keep going, you are seriously so talented. I LOVE YOU!!!


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