I'm writing this post with shake-y fingers, butterflies in my stomach, and so much gratitude in my heart because..... CAIT KRAMER PHOTOGRAPHY IS FULL TIME, Y'ALL! I've been waiting to scream this from my rooftop for SO long, so the fact that I get to share this with you today feels pretty huge!
This past week was my very first week as a full time photographer & fitness instructor! (I can't even believe that I get to say that!) I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my head when it came to this big announcement. Do I post anything? What do I say? Will anyone really care? Haven't I told pretty much everyone I've crossed paths with in the last 3 months?! BUT, like I've mentioned before, I love using this little blog as a place to write my personal history, and I know that 1, 5, 10 years down the line, I am going to look back on this post and laugh a little to myself because that's just the way life works. So, I wanted to share a little bit with you about how I am really feeling and what this transition has actually been like. But before I do that, I wanted to send you a big virtual thank you hug. I am so, so grateful to be in this season of life. I am being realistic with myself, and I know the season I am in now may not last forever (Girl's gotta pay the rent and DC is crazy expensive...), but I am so, so hopeful and so, so grateful. To have the opportunity to chase my craziest wildest dreams at 24 is something that I never thought I would have the guts to do. So thank you. Thank you so much for your support.
To you, reading this post right now, thank you. To know that someone cares about what I have to say and the work that I produce means more than anything to me. To the people that have told me just to DO and not to worry so much, thank you. I know my never ending anxiety hasn't been the easiest for you to tolerate, and the fact that you have pushed me to believe in myself is something that will always mean so much to me. To the people that calmed my anxiety and told me to keep going on the days when I really wanted to throw in the towel, thank you. Working three jobs is really challenging, and your encouragement truly kept me moving when things felt like too much. To my parents, my family, my friends, my CKP family and my creative community, thank you. I wish I could find the words to let you know what you mean to me, but I'm not sure that they exist. To the clients that have trusted me to tell their stories, your support means more to me than I can ever say. I am sitting here behind my computer with tears in my eyes because all of you & your support truly mean so much to me.
A little bit of reality for you now? I'm not going to lie, the last couple of months/weeks/days have been pretty tough. I've spent a lot of time thinking and questioning and wondering if I was making the right decision. A lot of time questioning if my dream was worth chasing. A lot of time feeling really, really guilty when I realized that YES, my dreams ARE valid and that I really wanted and needed to give my clients more of my heart and soul. There were a lot of tears on my commute to and from the office, as I tried my best to pull myself together for my next job. There were late night emails and long to-do lists without a lot of momentum. There was a lot of crunching numbers and looking at calendars and a lot a lot, a lot of anxiety. I'm so incredibly thankful for the people that got me through these weeks, these months, that shared their love (and their patience) with me and that encouraged me, that told me I needed to make some big changes, even when I didn't want to hear it.
You see... I really did enjoy my full time job. I love the people that I got to work with each day. They quickly became part of my DC family. I loved that my job allowed me to be creative through video work and that the content I was producing was so incredibly rewarding. I loved that I was able to use my degree and that I had a rigid schedule each day. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I had, the patience my coworkers had for my crazy schedule, and the people that I got to meet. I was busy, and if I'm being honest, I truly feel that I thrive when I'm busy. I crave a full calendar. However, with three jobs that require a lot of brain power combined with working around the clock, you get pretty dang exhausted and overwhelmed. Fast. I was "on" from about 5:45 in the morning to about 11:30 at night most days. I was lucky if I had 15 minutes for a shower in the evening and felt like I was living the dream if I had time for dinner. I felt guilty when I wasn't working, and I felt myself pushing my friends away. It was too much. I soon realized that I didn't want to look back on my 20's and see work, calendars and computers-- I wanted to see family, friends and life.
People told me that burnout was real; that I should take time off every now and again. But, I chose not to believe them. I was silly and chose to think that I was immune to it. After all, I like being busy, right? I ended up feeling so trapped in my routine, so trapped in believing that I had to do all of the things all of the time, that I ended up losing so much of myself. I ended up feeling like a shell of a human most days and burnt out to the point where, even opening email at the start of my workday made my throat tighten up. I realized that I really needed to make some big life changes, which is what brought me to where I am now. It took a long time for me to get over the fact that I felt like I was giving up. I felt like I was taking the easy way out for a long time, but I have definitely realized that taking more time to focus on what matters most to me & those that I am serving, is in no way, is the easy way out.
People have asked about how this transition has been, and I have to be honest: It has been amazing and so eye opening and so, so incredibly scary. I spent most of my final day in my office job with tears in my eyes as I went through final handoffs, turned in badges, and gave see-you-soon hugs to my coworkers over chips and margaritas. I'm not going to lie, I felt so weird-- almost like I wasn't living in reality. I felt guilty. I slept close to 13 hours that night... you could say that life had me pretty exhausted.
I then spent my first two days on my own with a massive pit in my stomach. I felt guilty and like a fish out of water. I was off my routine, and my body was throwing a fit about it. I cried a lot. I sent panicked texts to my mom as I tried to find a familiar rhythm. You know imposter syndrome? It exists just as much as burnout, and I felt like such a fraud as I tried to settle in to this new chapter. Come Wednesday of last week, I finally started to find my rhythm and started to get my groove back. I was actually able to get some momentum going on some BIG things that I have been dying to do for a long time, and this gave me so much hope. The rest of the week was better. SO much better. The sun came out (literally and figuratively), and I started to feel that familiar passion creep back into my soul. I am so excited for what's to come. I am so excited to give more of myself to my clients. I am excited to return emails before 10PM and I am so excited to be able to say YES to more work that fuels me. I am so excited to build a business and brand that I am truly proud of while serving my clients and community in a a way that I know they deserve.
I'm not sure why I felt the need to share little story with you today... maybe it is to let you know that transitioning into full time creative life isn't all rainbows and unicorns and yoga pants. (Though I will say that working in leggings is MUCH better than working in pants with pockets) Maybe someone somewhere out there needed a little boost to realize that their dreams are truly worth chasing. Maybe I just needed to vent a little bit and wanted someone to understand that, while I am trying to make this transition as graceful as possible, I really do feel like a baby giraffe that's just getting its footing. Whatever it may be, thank you so much for listening.
Transitioning into full time work on your own is tough and it's scary and it feels really weird. It is also so exciting and such a freeing experience. Your schedule will be different than your friends who work in the corporate world; it'll feel a little lonely; it'll be different than everything you've been used to. Saying "I believe in myself enough to make this leap" isn't an easy realization to come to, but oh my goodness, I am finding that it is so worth it. I'm fighting like crazy, and I just can't wait to see what's next. Thank you so much for your support, friend. Cheers to so many exciting things to come!
(And for those of you wondering what my current next step is: I am committing to diving into portrait and wedding season full force right now, and I am so excited to see where this takes Cait Kramer Photography! I have the opportunity to work with so many sweet couples this year, and I just can’t wait to give even more of myself to their experience with my brand. I am also still teaching at FlyBarre (teaching is one of my favorite things ever, and I am so thankful for my studio community that has encouraged me so much through this process. If you ever want to come take class, send me a note!), and I am also walking sweet pups for Wag! My days look a lot different then they did just a few weeks ago, but my heart is so happy.)