Last week I got to check something big off of my life list: I co-hosted a photography workshop. Sitting in the living room of my house (aka The Pony Farm), I got to speak to a talented group of beginner photographers (and some not-so-beginners) alongside two incredible artists who I am floored to have the privilege of calling my friends (and I mean it when I say that. If you’d told me this time last year that I would be teaching with Emily and Jonas rather than attending one of their workshops, I would have laughed in your face and then had you committed). And then to top that off, we were joined by special guest Meg Keene, who gave an inspiring and uplifting talk about hard work and perseverance.
As Jonas mentions in his recap, the end of the two-day workshop felt like the end of summer camp. I wanted to hang out with our attendees all week and form a photography co-op on the farm where we’d just hang out and learn from each other. But sadly, the fun did come to an end (if only temporarily). So, as I dropped Jonas and Mary off at the airport on Wednesday, I was suddenly left with half a dozen bagels (score!) and my thoughts.
And what I realized was this: for me, this workshop was about so much more than checking something off of my list. It was about creating something from nothing. CoLab started out as an idea, something Emily mentioned to me in passing. That idea turned into a concept (It should be three of us! We should ask this guy Jonas, who is this awesome photographer I’ve never met, but one time I e-mailed him to compliment his work and therefore I feel totally misguidedly confident about asking to join us!) Once we had Jonas on board (who originally said no, by the way. But thanks to that misguided confidence, was, um, coerced into saying yes. Or as he’ll tell you, cyber-bullied) we had a plan. And as each component of the workshop came together, it slowly turned into something real. We had a team. Then we had a website. Then we had a schedule. Then we had attendees. And suddenly it was a workshop.
Leading up to the workshop, it was hard explaining to Jonas and Emily why I wasn’t nervous. Was it because I was used to speaking in public? Was it because I’d gotten a new haircut and two new dresses and was sufficiently distracted from the seriousness of what we were doing? Maybe. But I think it was that for me, by the time the workshop rolled around and the food was ordered and the attendees were confirmed, everything that could have gone wrong, hadn’t. We had already pulled it off, before it even started.
Which I think is exactly the lesson I needed to learn. Because sometimes when you’re working towards a big scary thing, it can be so easy to get caught up in the imaginary figure you’ve got in your head that spells success. Our goals are often represented by numbers, which can make us feel like our success is able to be quantified. But if I learned anything this weekend, it’s that doing something, anything that feels like a reach, that is outside of your comfort zone, that challenges you to go beyond what you consider your capabilities, then you’ve already succeeded.
So when it was all over, and I was driving back to the farm and my bagels(!), I quietly congratulated myself with one of my favorite “Mean Girls” quotes and told myself, “Maddie, you did the damn thing.”
And I’m hoping everyone else in attendance did the same.
So now that you’ve made it through my unintentionally sappy recap, you should also check out what Emily and Jonas had to say about the workshop, because theirs probably sound less like a self-help book than mine. And then you should click here and sign up for our newsletter to get updates on future workshops, including a rumored NYC CoLab experience coming soon!