I found it really, really hard to write this. I've avoided it for the past couple of weeks.
I'm going to start by offering some context. 2005... I was 16 and I was
pregnant and on this particular day I was sat in the careers office at
my secondary school. I was in the first year of my A Levels. The school
reluctantly agreed to me seeing out the year on a number of conditions.
That I sit my exams in isolation. That I didn't attend the school trips
we'd scrimped to pay for which were essential for my exams. And that I
sit in this room on this particular occasion, with the father of my
unborn child and a twentysomething who worked for a careers advice
service. We had to have a joint meeting about our futures. It was an
intervention in disguise. We talked about the things I'd wanted to do
and I was told they weren't going to happen. When the twentysomething
gave up on trying to tempt me into having an abortion, he began advising
my ex boyfriend. When he told him he was really not keen to be involved
with the baby, the twentysomething was visibly relieved. I sat there
while the two of them nattered about his future "if you choose to
withold your name from the birth certificate" the advisor said with a
smile "you won't even have to pay maintenance". There are various points
in life, that darker moments take you right back to.... that inform the
decisions you make and the way you live your life. For me, that meeting
was one of those. After my son was born I studied from home, I went to
university, I built my business... but there has always been that fear
that that twentysomething was right and amounting to something was only
something other people could hope for. I've worried about letting people
down. I've worried that I made family ashamed of my choices. I've been
on a mission to prove that I can be a success.
reason I'm sharing this as context, and why I nearly didn't write this
is... I'm really, really shit at being able to stop and appreciate how
far I have come. Because when someone tells you you're going nowhere and
you desperately want that not to be true... stopping doesn't really
feel like an option. Usually, when something good happens I'm busy
thinking about the things that need work, or looking forward. So the
thought of writing a post about this incredible honour has filled me
with a sort of dread.
But... I think I really owe it to that 16 year old me to write this. Because it is an incredible honour.
I was nominated to submit images for Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars of
Wedding Photography... that would have been enough for me to be honest.
Just to be invited was huge for me. I thought about previous winners...
the likes of Emma Case, Assassynation, Sam Hurd, Nirav Patel, Andria Lindquist, Ed
Peers, Sean Flanigan, Marianne Taylor... and I felt sure that I wouldn't
be selected. And I was totally fine with that.
then, a few weeks ago the email came. Telling me I'd been selected. My
brain instantly whirred through all the reasons it might not be true...
it's a joke... it's a mistake.... But it was true.
And it would be very easy for me to go with that feeling in my gut like I should just keep looking ahead to the next thing... and I will very soon... But just for a little bit I am going to enjoy it.
I am going to be grateful for my awesome clients and the trust they put in me, for my family, for my mates and my peers who have encouraged me over the last four and a half years. And I'm grateful to you for making it through what is, let's face it, a rather self-indulgent post.