Choosing A New Path
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08/01/2017
By Jennifer Lebo
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Have you ever had an idea that felt so outrageous, you knew you had to pursue it?

 

Ever felt a stirring so deep in your heart to pursue that outrageous idea, that you believed the only really outrageous thing would be not pursuing it?

 

Ever heard that voice in your head whispering, “This doesn’t matter.  It won’t succeed.  Don’t do it.  It’s a failure waiting to happen.”

 

Well, I have too.  I’ve been hearing it every day for the past several months, Today is the day that I tell that voice to SHUT UP and move on, because I’ve got important work to do.

 

 

Maybe I should back up a little, and tell you a bit of my story.  

 

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t written a blog post in quite a while.  I haven’t shared but one or two portrait sessions in the last few months.  Haven’t posted that much on social media, nor shared too much about Jen Lebo Photography.  Because I had been preparing to walk away from it.  I had been planning to give up my portrait business and quit calling myself a photographer.

 

A lot contributed to this decision, but the gist of it was that I felt like a fraud.  Over the past few months, I took a look outside my own little bubble, and discovered that the portrait photography industry was so over-saturated, that I could find more than a dozen photographers in a 5 mile radius from my own home.  I began comparing my work (no, let’s be honest here- comparing myself) to them all, and I would constantly come up short.  It became a journey toward self-loathing.  It grew old fast, and I was ready to quit.

I shared this struggle with a good friend, who completely understood, being a portrait photographer herself, and having walked a similar road.  For weeks after, she would touch base with me and gently ask how I was doing with the decision, and whether I needed to talk.  We would meet and share our stories, and even though I wouldn’t leave her any closer to a decision, I always left feeling encouraged, and feeling better.  My discussions with her always resurfaced when I would toy with that decision to quit.

 

I realized that I was comparing myself to all the other amazing photographers around me.  Constantly comparing.  Never connecting.  Never enjoying.  Just comparing.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was doing this in almost every area of my life.  I compared myself to other women, and saw myself as less beautiful.  I compared myself to other moms, and saw myself as less gracious, loving, or nurturing.  I compared myself to other teachers, to other friends, to other wives, and I always came up short.

 

But then a beautiful thing happened.  I shared that pain with that friend.  And with a few other precious girlfriends.  And they all said the same thing.  They said “Me too”.  They said, “I understand.  I feel those things too.  I struggle with comparison.  I struggle with my aging body.  I struggle with being a better mom, with being a smarter professional, with being a closer friend, a more loving wife.  I know how you feel.”  Being vulnerable with each other connected us, and gave us a bit of courage.

 

It was so powerful to realize I wasn’t alone in this struggle.  Powerful, also, to discover that this struggle seemed to grow in us women a bit later in our lives, as we moved into our 40s and 50s.  A little less naive and confident, and a little more worn down but wise, walking through these mid-life years is not easy, but discovering I didn’t need to walk the road alone made the hard beautiful.  

 

And then I realized something more.  I discovered my purpose, my passion.  To create a place where all of these beautiful women might share their stories, through word and portrait, in order to connect, encourage, and empower each other.

 

 

 

That’s when the voice showed up.  The one that said “You are absolutely INSANE!”.

 

I know that if you are one of these women, you are probably thinking it too.  It is insane!  Very few women my age (myself included) have the confidence or the courage to step in front of a camera, especially on their own.  Very few of us feel courageous enough to share our stories, to be vulnerable.

 

It should be noted that this is also insane from the viewpoint of most photographers.  Older women are not a sought after target market.  High school seniors, weddings, newborns, families- that’s where it’s at.  Not older women!  

 

But it’s that exact mindset that has me wanting to pursue it.  As we women grow older, we become less sought after, almost invisible, if not to society, then at least to our very own selves.  And I want to change that.  

 

I want to show women my age that they are still beautiful today, maybe even more beautiful than they were yesterday.  I want to teach older women that vulnerability takes courage, and that it is never weak.  It is always beautiful.  I want to connect women like me to other women like them, so that as we share our stories, and hear those precious words, “Me too.”, we will stop comparing ourselves, and start connecting.  


I don’t just want to recreate a business.  I want to create a movement.

And so here I am, standing at the bottom of this beautiful, powerful, tremendous mountain.  I have so many ideas, so many plans, and I will create, and build, and share them, one step at a time.  This is just the first step up the mountain.  Telling that voice of doubt to go away, and sharing my story with you.

 

The changes are already starting.  Jen Lebo Photography will become something new, both in name and in purpose.  It will have passion and connection and a powerful vision.

 

 

Sure, it might fail.  It might be my greatest failure yet.  But I’ll be ok with that, because to me, the only failure would be in not pursuing it.

 

Please stay with me through this journey.

 

And connect with me if you want to be a part of this new endeavor (either locally or online), or if you know someone who might.  I can’t wait to walk this journey with friends.

 

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31 Comments
Jennifer Lebo - Deb, what a beautiful comment. I hope your Bible study is powerful. I'm sure it will be. Miss you always!
Debi Rutkowski - Hi Jen,
That was so good. I can resonate with a lot of that. Especially not feeling Beautiful or wanted anymore!! Weight gain, changing hair etc...Just sent my baby Sam off to the Army so my "job" as mama for all these 40 years (yes Erika just turned 40!),is changing. Also I am passing on women's ministry responsibilities to a younger woman. What's helping me is focusing on mentoring, coming along side other women, young and old. I just started reading this book "Adorned", by Nancy Lee Demoss Wolgemuth. That's what we will be reading this Fall in our women's group Thurs morning. It's really encouraging. I'll be anxious to see how this new endeavor of yours blossoms. You know Jen you are Jesus' flower and he always looks at you and says,"O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff,Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely" Song of Sol 2:14
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Marilyn. Miss you very much.
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Peg! Miss you.
Mimi - I miss you!! Thanks for coming back to share your thoughts, feelings and passion with us.
Carol Lebo - Dearest Jen, I'm with you all the way. ❤️
Peg - Beautiful post! Just like you!!! Looking forward to always being a part of the journey, my friend.
Jennifer Lebo - Sam, I love your honesty and vulnerability. Thank you for these words. You are truly beautiful. I'm SO GLAD social media, this blog, and LIFE reconnected us. I'm so glad you're taking this journey with me. I love your story, your truth, your beauty. I think it will show others what real beauty looks like.
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Mom. You exemplify beauty to the core. <3
Jennifer Lebo - Judy, you are one of the most beautiful women I know! Thank you for sharing such wise and beautiful words. I'm so touched and so glad you're taking this journey with me, with all of us.
Jennifer Lebo - Having you with me is tremendous encouragement. I really hope to tap into the amazing, beautiful women who read the blog, who live the journey. You and I will definitely be in touch. What if this was what reconnected us someday- like face to face?! :)
Jennifer Lebo - You're already here! All new ideas, creations, projects, groups, etc, will come from right here. I love that you're with me on this journey!
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Ramona. Love having you with me on any journey!
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Lori! Connecting rather than comparing- it's a beautiful thing.
Jennifer Lebo - Aw Mom! I love being able to walk this road- any road- with you. You're my shoulder to cry on, my laughing partner, and my advisor. Thanks for helping me sort all this out. I'm so lucky to always have you. YOU are the true beauty. <3
Jennifer Lebo - Yay! The next blog post will have some resources as well as "what's coming next". Love that you're taking this journey with me!
Jennifer Lebo - Oh my goodness, Emy, I could NOT agree more!!!
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Lori. We are always connected despite miles. Beautiful friends like you make this journey unforgettable.
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Chris! Hope you guys are all well! Miss you!
Samantha lancer - Jen...
This was so amazing to read and something I absolutely relate to daily. Some days I'm so insecure and others im ok.. now that the kids are grown and I'm a grandmother.. some days are worse than others. You are amazing and inspiring and I'm so blessed to be able to call you friend...
Carol Lebo - Dearest Jen, I'm with you all the way. ❤️
Judy Bedell - It is so easy to spend some of our best years devoting our time to our spouses and children. Before you know it you have time to fill but not the energy or confidence to pursue some of the things that were put on the back burner. Almost 80 is a little scarey watching so many friends passing away or having health issues. Being an "old dog" learning new tricks can be very frustrating. Social media is a real
challenge but a great way to stay in touch and learn new things. Looking forward to reading your posts. Judy Bedell
Cindy Sledge - Yes this is such a familiar feeling. On some days I feel my insecurities have grown tremendously...yet other days I feel more secure in newer areas. The self-discovery, the self-exploration is meant to be an exciting and rewarding journey--but not if we focus on how we measure up. I find myself comparing and coming up short a lot. I love this idea and would love to support, help, encourage in any way I can. ❤️
Shana - I gave up a long time ago! And I'm much happier. Diggin' this movement, where do I sign up?
Ramona - xxoo - watching you grow ♥️
Lori Reinschmidt - You hit the nail on the head! Never feel less, you are awesome!
Mary Jane Sparacio - You know my guilt that I must have passed my insecurities onto you and you are quick to say it's in ALL of us. I wish you could see what I and everyone else sees in you . But that's exactly what you are trying to do now with others. I love your ideas! Never, ever forget how proud I am of you. I love you hen, Mom
Kelly syernick - I'd love to learn more!
Emy - I feel like my rockstar mom needs to be in front of a camera! Go Jen!
Lori - this! May God bless your new endeavor and journey! I'm with you..."me too!" Hugs!
Christina Gerasimowicz - Good luck, Jen! I'm always so inspired by you! Hope all is well with the family!