Following your dream
I’ve been thinking a lot about passion and living your dream life. It’s what I feel has been missing for most of my life. For yours, maybe, as well.
I have a unique opportunity in my life at the moment to pursue my dream and make it a reality. I’m also drawn to people who are living their dream.
One of those people is Raya Al-Hashmi, a freelance photographer who runs Raya On Assignment in Portsmouth, NH. She helps businesses with their branding through authentic journalistic photography, but she’s really about so much more. She has a similar passion as I do: to help people who are trying to live their best possible lives by doing what they love.
A few weeks ago I was fortunate to attend an event called “Shape Your Luck,” where Raya told us her story. She shared how she had always been drawn to journalism and sharing stories, but ended up working for a hotel after she graduated from college. She thought that she needed to be responsible and keep her job, even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to be there. She struggled to stick it out so that she could “work up the ladder,” because it’s what everyone had always told her.
But it came at a high cost. She was turning down gigs to do photoshoots because she was tied to her desk and day job. She had already built a following on Instagram and was becoming known as a photographer. She felt horrible about turning down the gigs, because what she really wanted to be doing was that, and not her job.
Having a job actually prevented Raya from doing what she most loved to do. It was painful, but she was afraid of losing the stability that the job provided. She decided to take a leap of faith and quit her job. She sacrificed a lot while she launched her freelance photography business by shifting her entire lifestyle and living very simply.
About eight months later, she was making enough from her business to live on her own and call herself successful. Now, three years later, she makes over six-figures and is happier than she’s ever been. From this experience Raya learned that what you need to be happy in your career is to believe in yourself and to follow your dream. She admits is was hard work and not the easiest of paths but she kept at it and kept a positive attitude and it has paid off.
Raya is one of those people who you meet and you instantly want to become her friend. She is joyful and more alive than most people I’ve personally met. She is also full of enormous wisdom and insight for someone her age (28).
Raya is a wonderful example of someone who has talent and a dream and decides that living a challenging life doing what she loves is better than living an easy life but not doing what she loves. Sometimes taking a leap of faith -- faith that what lights you up is what you’re meant to do -- is what needs to happen, to propel you forward towards your dreams.