The Power of the Pivot
Growing up, I always thought my career had to be stagnant. You major in an area in undergraduate school, graduate from undergrad, you go to graduate school, you obtain your position, have the security of a paycheck, benefits, and retirement, and you stay in that field until you retire. And that's what I was prepared to do. To give you some context, my background and master's degree is in Higher Education Administration and Leadership. So what the heck is that? Essentially I am trained to work in college administration. I studied college student development, counseling, diversity education, and took several administrative courses. In graduate school, I used to scoff at the idea of leaving the field. I thought for sure that working on a college campus was going to be my forever future. And it was my life for five years.
But here's what happened... you know that voice in the back of your head that's telling you something feels off? You know it. It's the voice that keeps you in alignment with your values. It's the voice that makes you feel authentic to your true self. It's the voice that's sitting inside your gut and intuitively telling you what feels right and what feels wrong. Well that voice was screaming at me to make a pivot. And I started to question everything. What if I was destined to do something different? What if I wasn't in the right place anymore. I could feel it in every ounce of my body that my career wasn't fulfilling me anymore. I couldn't sleep. I felt sick. And the longer I suppressed that voice, the sadder I felt. The more disconnected I felt. I was going to work every day, but it felt like I was just going through the movements. I was unhappy. Unfulfilled. And knew that something else was calling me.
To fill my creativity tank, I bought a camera. And started watching YouTube videos to learn photography. In undergrad I had studied journalism and taken a few photo and design courses, but was essentially a beginner. Suddenly that little camera became a beacon of freedom. It would sit at my desk at home and remind me of what could be. What if I started something new? What if I curated a life and a career that actually aligned with my values? Six months later I quit my full time, 40 hours a week job. And I was met with an astounding amount of questions. Everyone around me was incredibly perplexed. I remember being asked, "So you think you're going to just quit your job to start a photography business?" Despite the anxiety, despite the fears... it just felt right.
That pivot... that's how Lauren Winterbotham Photography was created. And there's not an ounce of regret that I have leading up to this point. And I still get to tap into my passion for education through teaching at a local community college and offering new services.
I think sometimes we get so locked into our ego. Your ego is what drives you to make decisions based on being liked or having to follow a specific plan because you think that's what you "should do." "I should major in this program because I'll make a lot of money." "I should stay in this relationship because I've invested too much time in it already." "I should stay in this job because I'm too afraid to pursue something else." You can't live your life doing what you think you "should do." Sometimes you have to do things that scare you- but that pushes you to be who you are truly destined to be. Sometimes losing control is the greatest thing you can do.
After two years of running Lauren Winterbotham Photography, I am making a pivot again by opening the doors to LW Studio. The studio will not only be a place for me to photograph branding sessions and families- but it will also be a space for creativity and collaboration. A space that I can utilize my education background to empower others to live their most authentic lives too through workshops, mastermind classes, and mentorship programs.
I believe that all of us are destined to do incredible things in this world. Whether you're a photographer, a florist, a stay at home mom, a teacher, lawyer- whatever you may be. And if you feel like you're not where you're supposed to be- it's okay to pivot. Pursue that passion. Start that side hustle. Leave that relationship. Build those new friendships. It's never too late to start something new. Because that pivot is where the growth comes. It's where we feel most vulnerable and where we find out who we truly are. That pivot won't always be filled with rainbows and butterflies. There will be moments where you're afraid. Moments where you're not sure what the hell you're doing and where you're going. But you'll be living your truth and that's what matters.