What Do I Want To Do For A Living?

Iris Award for Best Photography OWTK Jeff Bogle

Me accepting the Iris Award for Best Photography at the 2016 Mom 2.0 Summit in California.

We were supposed to be watching the series finale of our favorite show, 90 minutes of British crime investigation that we’ve been leaving to get virtually dusty on the digital shelf of our Roku account because once it’s over, it’s over and neither of us are ready for that yet. In our minds, in the way we twist this Masterpiece Mystery reality, as long as that last episode remains unwatched, the curtain has theoretically not been closed. Inspector Lewis and D.S. Hathaway, I cannot and will not quit you.

Instead, we ended up chilling together in the family room after the kids had fallen asleep in their respective rooms down the hall, her in her favorite chair beneath the new cherry red sweater blanket I gave her at Christmas with two of our cats sprawled out at her feet, wisps of steam rising up from a mug of Irish Breakfast tea sitting on the table beside her, me a bit chilly without a blanket, chilly and with not enough lumbar support on the loveseat. Dammit I hate that loveseat. Battery operated candles fake-flickered on the shelves in front of us and the Dawes Pandora station played softly from Google Home a few feet away, serving as a music bed for our late night conversation. At one point, I apologized for being too tired to watch the show (too tired and too NOT READY FOR INSPECTOR LEWIS TO BE OVER), but she said, “that’s okay, this is really nice”.

Not that we were drawing those ‘conversation starter’ cards that are sold for family members who must struggle to communicate with each other organically but this question is probably included in the base set, “what do you want to do for a living?” An odd question to ask me, in a way, because I’m already doing what I love to do for a living but it made me think about not just the rest of 2017 or ’18 but, like, in a decade from now. What is it that I want to do then? She smartly added that I needed to answer realistically which quickly took ‘3rd line center for the Detroit Red Wings’ off the table. Dammit. Curse never learning to skate backward because I look AMAZING in red.

I’m at a bit of a crossroads with this whole ‘how I make a living’ thing. Also, with the ‘why do I put so many things in single quotation marks’ thing. Regarding the former, in my mind I’m a nimble, poetic storyteller weaving brief tales of our travels that capture, in miniature and with a modicum of regular everyday language, the full-sense experience of the many small moments I have witnessed, experienced or, in some cases, failed to produce for myself and my family. I’d accompany those stories with a fine photo or three, be paid a fair but reasonable wage for that work, and then see my travel exploits published, read, adored, and shared by like-minded wanderers. That’s how the path out in front of me looks when I close my eyes.

Problem is, I haven’t actually flexed those storytelling muscles enough IRL, pretty much no one is beating down my door to pay me to travel and to tell those stories/take those photos, and I don’t know if I have it in my personality make-up to try to make any of that happen because that would involve selling myself, talking in glowing terms about myself, about what I’ve done, what I can do for a PR firm, tourism board, city, hotel, etc. and yeah I feel suuuuper awkward simply typing about doing all of that stuff.

All of the impressive travel related work, at least the initial introduction to a brand, PR person, city, that has happened for me and my family over the past few years has come about because someone else said nice things about me, which is the most flattering way for anything to happen, but that remarkable well of kindness and good fortune has run dry and now I’m staring at the very real possibility of never becoming the guy I want to be, the guy I think I can be, all because of a flawed personality type that has prevented me from selling myself. I’ve never enjoyed shining a light down in my general direction, I mean, I reluctantly added “Iris Award Winning Photographer” to my social media profiles and it still feels strange to be showy in that way.

Unless I find the keys to unlock some self-marketing skills, Lewis and Hathaway won’t need to dig very deep to figure out how my travel writing and photography dream died.

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