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Get Gutsy Essay Contest Winning Entry #1: My Journey to Entrepreneur by Caroline Winn

After reading nearly 30 entries to the Get Gutsy Essay Contest, over the next few days, I’m thrilled to share the three winning entries! Be sure to click over to this post to read the gutsy stories from 29 inspiring participants.

The first winning entry comes from Caroline Winn of the Sweet Caroline Blog and Caroline Winn Photography. I love this post because Caroline beautifully communicates the challenges and fears that come with making a gutsy move, like quitting a comfortable job to pursue a passion. Her courage, drive and gutsiness shine. I know you’ll love her story! Read on.

Get Gutsy Essay Contest
Caroline Winn quit her comfortable corporate job to become a wedding photographer. Photo by Anne Lee Photography.

I never thought of myself as someone who had a lot of guts.That is, until I found myself a year out of college in a job I hated.

It wasn’t that I particularly disliked the work or the people, but that I couldn’t shake this voice inside my head screaming, “this isn’t for you!” I didn’t feel passionate about what I was doing. I didn’t want to fight my way up the corporate ladder. I didn’t want to stay late just to appear to be working hard in hopes my boss might notice. I didn’t want to feel like a phony at networking events. I didn’t want to stay inside the lines. I wanted balance, to push boundaries, to challenge myself creatively, to get up from behind the computer screen and create the life I wanted.

Ultimately, I decided to quit my comfy, prestigious corporate job to pave my own way as a wedding photographer.

Two years later, I’m confident that it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

The past two years certainly haven’t been all rainbows and sunshine though, and those who have been around since the beginning know what I’m talking about. There was so. much. indecision. Tears. Negativity. Hours of weakness with only moments of bravery. Plenty of, “I can’t do this.” 

I got a lot of surprised looks and awkward silences when I told people I wanted to ditch my secure marketing job to make a living as a photographer. I got, “What do your parents think of that?” and“Aren’t you too smart to be just a wedding photographer?” I wish I was making this up and I would be lying if I said these comments didn’t affect me at all or make me doubt my decisions.

Thankfully, instead of giving in to other’s (unwarranted) opinions or my own doubts and fears, I did a lot of soul searching and kept pushing. I meditated, journaled, confided in close friends and family. Through this I discovered there isn’t only one path to “success”… that I can pave my own way. That happiness isn’t found in promotions, flying first class or six figure bonuses. And that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice balance, family time, travel, health, etc. for these things.

Since starting my business in early 2013, I’ve worked harder and longer hours than I ever have before. I went back to school for a degree in photography. I set big, scary goals. I took on a full-time job to financially support my business, leaving me the nights and weekends (and early mornings) to build my dream. I, quite literally, hustled to make it all work.

I’ve learned to be patient, to celebrate the small successes, to think outside the box and to not be afraid of your dreams.

I know 2014 is going to require just as much, if not more, guts as 2013. I know it’s going to require more sweat, tears and hard work to get my business to the place I want it to be. I know I’m going to have to push my comfort zone in ways I never imagined.

But I also know that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 This post was written by Caroline Winn as part of the Get Gutsy Essay Contest. Be sure to click over to Caroline’s blog to read the original post and stick around for more great content.

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Meet Jessica

I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

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