Photographer Joie Takaki is pursuing her dream of building her own business. In this guest blog series, she shares her journey from beginner to expert with us.
Sometimes life throws you ‘challenges within a challenge' just to test how far you are willing to go. Unless that happens, you don't realise how much you want something until you discover yourself taking every risk to make it happen.
This summer, on my way to an outdoor photo shoot, I was extremely excited and equally nervous. I was shooting on my own! For the first time! This day was a huge stepping stone for me. I was definitely feeling challenged!
On this day off all days, I wasn't expecting to also face my biggest wildest fears. The fear I am referring to is the kind that terrorises you to the core. Pure. Paralysing. Fear. For me, that is BEES. I don't understand why that is, I have never been stung by one before, but sometimes there are no explanations for our fears, it just is. Bees were so utterly terrifying that if I so much as see or hear one, I can't think or act logically. If you think of whatever your greatest fear is, that would be bees for me.
On the day of my shoot, something very unexpected happened. I arrived at the Lavender Fields in London for the outdoor only to discover acres of fields covered with a million gazillion BEES! I looked down at what I was wearing: lace top, short skirt, open sandals.
GULP! Is this for REAL?!?!?!
For a split second, I just stood there, stunned. Initially, I was thinking about the immediate situation; the thousands of bees swarming everywhere, how terrified I was feeling, the jarring buzzing in my ears, the imaginary painful stings. I couldn't believe this was happening! Why was it happening today?
Then, I surprised myself. I stood up to my fear, as if it were an actual person. ‘No!‘ I shouted in my head. ‘I am NOT letting you stop me!' Then I took a deep breath, mentally switched off my emotions, re-focused on completing this assignment, and walked straight through the ‘invisible force' standing in my way.
I was able to do this by talking myself into it. I still recall vividly the conversation I had with myself. With each step, these were the thoughts going through my mind …
‘What are you really afraid of? The stings? You can endure a few hours of pain!'
‘What is pain? Just an emotion! The pain will subside, the bumps and welts will go down. Don't be a wuss!'
‘You are here to shoot photos! You can do this! Now GO!'
And I slowly proceeded to wade through the fields of swarming bees… with bare legs… for the next four hours!
Let me just say that this very act was mind-boggling to me! I could not believe I was actually doing this! The first few minutes were almost too unbearable. Yet, I kept walking forward, pushing myself to keep moving. I remember mentally and physically forcing each foot forward with all my willpower.
The interesting thing is, the further along I waded through the fields, surrounded by all the bees, the less scary and less emotional and less painful it became. Four hours somehow vanished and suddenly the photo shoot was over!
I remember thinking: ‘What just happened there? When did I stop noticing there were bees around me? Did I just do THAT?!?!?!'
Surprising myself and doing what was unthinkable – this turned out to be one of the proudest moments of my life and a pivotal moment I won't forget. To face your fears like that, and completely control it, rather than letting it control you. I realised, once you change how you think about fear, you change its power over you.
Since conquering this tremendous fear, I have found myself in numerous situations that were overwhelmingly nerve-wracking. Now, each time I feel the fear settling in, I remember this moment. It gives me the confidence and the courage to carry on and accomplish what I set out to do. It is a powerful reminder that if I put my mind to it, I am capable of anything!
When you consistently face your fears, you gain the emotional and mental know-how to do it again. Because you know you've done it before. You know you can do it. And you know you are a survivor!
Whatever obstacles might be holding you back, you need to change your perception of it. Perhaps your fear is taking the first step into starting a business, or shooting a wedding completely on your own, or trying something no one else has done, or traveling somewhere foreign solo, or moving abroad, or telling someone you love them, or meeting someone really famous or important. Whatever your fear, prove to yourself that what you want is far greater than the fear itself. Believe that you can conquer it and are in control whatever happens next!
In hindsight, once you face your fears and look back, you'll realise that you created something in your mind that was far larger and far scarier than it actually is in reality.
Fear is a false perception. Period.
Your fears are simply obstacles that are put in your way to determine if what you want is really worth fighting for. Knowing this will help you commit to doing whatever it takes to continue pursuing your dreams. Because your dreams aren't worth giving up, for anything!
‘You want to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that,” rather than to look back and say, “I wish I did that”.' ~ Unknown
All images by Joie Takaki.