If there is an image that perfectly describes Nashville, I'm pretty sure this would be it. Here we have seven trendy young adults adorned with stylish outfits, perfect makeup, camera gear, and the slightest bit of angst. Nashville is an interesting city and I absolutely love learning more about the culture here every day.
Nashville thrives off of community. The fact that so many local small businesses can thrive in a city says a lot about the people that live there. I have discovered that it is more common to find a local business than a corporate franchise. People get their groceries at farmers markets, drink craft beer, specialty coffee, and will be more inclined to purchase something that is more expensive if it is "locally handmade". I am not saying this to bash Nashville, in fact, it is one of the things I love most about this city. It's hard when friends and family come to visit and they don't understand why a cup of coffee is $5 (they promptly pour in the creamer before even tasting their pour over and I try not to cringe), or why a pair of jeans costs $250, and why people look so "hip and trendy" to go grab lunch. Well, because we like to support local businesses and we would rather have fewer nice things than a bunch of average things. Because we care about quality and the craftsmanship that goes into these products. It keeps us connected and inspires creativity. We're not just buying nice things, we are creating a community and allowing our friends and family to make a living doing what they love to do, and I personally think that is great.
That being said, Nashville also lacks community. While yes, we are community driven in the way I mentioned above, we also are really bad about forming meaningful, lasting relationships. I so often feel that relationships are only surface level and people are only concerned with what they can gain from the other person. People know what their friends do and what they are good at, but intimate relationships are lacking. People do not ask how you are really doing or why you do what you do or what your favorite part of what you do is, and if they do, they don't show a genuine interest in what you're saying unless it benefits them. Because of this networking frame of mind, Nashville lacks vulnerability. I know that I, for one, feel like I have to do something impressive and make sure my resume sounds awesome, and let me tell you, that is exhausting. And from what I'm hearing, lots of people feel the same way. I feel like this is a city that is doing and creating so much and sharing their successes, but not letting anyone know about their failures. We only talk about how many gigs we booked and not the two that cancelled or the potential clients you never heard back from, because then we wouldn't look as good. We might seem like we don't have everything together or that we aren't doing as well as our peers which would mean we have failed.
This mindset is so tiring and I often find myself falling into it. After I ran into the people in the photo above and started talking to them I immediately felt incompetent and like a failure. I remember going home and checking out their blogs, websites, and instagrams and feeling worthless. They have thousands of followers. They have shot more weddings than me. They have the gear I want. Their photos have been published.
I started comparing myself and that is a bad place to be. Those people all have different experiences to pull from and are in different places in life. They are wired differently than me and their creative minds work differently than mine. We each have our own style and our own goals. We have different dreams and ambitions. It is meaningless to compare my work and my success to them. I also have to keep in mind that I am significantly younger than everyone in that photo and most of people I am surrounded by. I have time to grow and learn, and in the meantime, I'm doing just fine. I love the photos I take and I am proud of my work and where I am no matter what that looks like compared to someone else. Instead of wasting my time and energy being jealous of my peers, I will be happy for them and their success and befriend them instead of distancing myself. We have things we can learn from each other and I will choose to be inspired, not defeated.