Everything about this day was perfect! I’m sure you’re looking at that first rain-drenched photo thinking, “yea sure Jessica. Perfect…” along with an eye roll. But I swear! The rain just made it even better! Of course, could you imagine leaving your hotel before your intimate wedding ceremony to go take photos in pouring rain? I’m sure Kat & Dan didn’t exactly plan for this, but would you just look at that photo? How can you be mad about it?
This last year was nothing short of a huge learning experience for me both personally and professionally. It was one of those years where anything and everything that could go wrong did. From car accidents, to slow seasons with financial hardship, to lost relationships and situational depression, it was a year that put me in an amazing crossroads. I was able to decide how I was going to let it affect me, define me and push me. The decision on which path to take was completely up to me, and I was finally in a place to come into my own. My dad used to always tell me when I was a teenager that everything is a choice. It wasn’t until my mid to late twenties that I really started to grasp that idea, and it wasn’t until last year that I really started to act on it. Sure, I could let the end of a four year relationship ruin my life by sinking into depression and not pursuing what I was passionate about. Absolutely, I could let booking 65% of what I normally do throw my business, all my hard work and passion, in the gutter. Definitely, I could let those that were trying to take advantage of me pull me under and ruin my spirits. However, this rollercoaster of a year pushed me to take some huge risks, trips, and decisions to get myself back on my feet. Because of this, I also embraced a lot of amazing opportunities making a hard year one I will also never forget!
When Mary contacted me over a year ago, she had her heart set on a Colorado elopement. Something small, simple, with just their immediate family in attendance. And more than anything, she wanted fall colors and spectacular views. Living in Arizona, they weren’t sure exactly when to time the elopement for the fall colors, but that was the beauty of eloping with just a handful of loved ones. They could wait and see when the colors were starting to turn in September of 2016 before picking their date for 2017. I spend most of my time in the mountains during the summer and fall since that is peak wedding season. This allowed me the ability to able to give Mary and James an idea of what the leaves were starting to look like as I made my way into the Rockies each weekend to shoot a wedding. Finally, we settled on a date for 2017 and plans were underway.
Today I turn thirty and leaving my twenties has me super reflective. I feel like your twenties really is the first decade of your life that you can truly look back and determine how you grew, what changed, what goals you accomplished, etc. Let’s face it. When you’re a teenager, you don’t really care or have that kind of awareness. But this is the first birthday where I’m truly self-reflective:
- Where did I come from?
- What did I do?
- What did I learn?
- Who do I want to be?
- What do I want to change?
- What do I do now?
Sure when I started my twenties, I thought I would be in a much different place ten years down the road than I am now. Never did I think I would be living in Denver, Colorado. Never did I think I would be single or childless. And never did I think I would be a self-employed photographer. These were not goals or dreams. In fact, I really set no goals for myself. This is just what came to be with little thought other than making choices based on chasing what felt right. It makes me wonder what I could accomplish if I actually set intention behind those feelings during this next decade of my life. Because never did I think when I was twenty that I would…
- Move across the country alone
- Support myself and live alone for eight years
- Camp & rock climb (yea…I know…shocking right?)
- Getting to know myself
- Start a business at age 24 (I was actually very opposed to self-employment)
- Live in Europe for three months, let alone travel for my job to seven different countries
- Get a dog, who has quickly become the best thing I’ve ever done
- Redefine family
- Touch both the Atlantic & Pacific oceans
- Meet and lose the love of my life (which taught me more than I can go into on a bullet point)
- Hike over 75 trails
- Pierce my nose & get a tattoo (let alone three)
- Drive across the country (about seven times)
- Learn the meaning of true love
- Photograph over 100 weddings
- Visit nearly half of the fifty US states
- Climb a 14,000 ft mountain
- Buy a car
- Find what I actually believe in
My twenty-year-old ideas were so much smaller. So simple. However, life had bigger plans. Plans that didn’t involve getting married, buying a house, settling down, or having children. Plans I could have never done if I settled into those simpler ideas. I feel like I spent a lot of my twenties fighting and fearing this. Yearning so badly for that simpler dream because it was comfortable and felt like home. I actually held myself back from so much trying to stay in a place I didn’t belong. I latched on to people not meant for me and ideas that I had outgrown in hopes of feeling at home. My twenties were literally a battle against my own heart and soul. Because of this, I don’t think I have ever actually accepted any of what I have accomplished or become. Surely I cannot be that woman. I was supposed to be something entirely different and my own skin doesn’t even feel like home.
But as I’ve entered into this new decade, I want to acknowledge myself. I want to realize I am no longer that visionless, simple twenty year old. I want to embrace that my twenties and all it held pushed me outside of those small dreams. I want to celebrate that I do know what I want and what is good for me. And I want to step into this new chapter with self-awareness and place intention behind that knowledge. I want to let go of what never happened and be proud of what actually did.
So here’s to thirty! Self-love, intention and finally embracing what life has given me (even if it wasn’t what I thought I wanted)! Here’s to finally embracing the woman I am and coming home!