the upspeak collective
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You Know Your Thing

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When I was a kid I used to talk about wanting to do something creative with my life and I LOVED to write poetry. It's kind of adorable to think about now. I was so young and I loved to journal and write little stories that I would hole punch and bind with ribbon. My dad was super encouraging and even connected me with a woman at our church who had been an english major to "edit" my work and give me feedback. She would take the time to read my writing and then sit with me and talk about what she liked and little changes I could make (thank you, Julia!).

One day my dad came home from work with a stack of printed paper that had those edges you rip off (this was the early 90's guys). He laid them all out in a row and it spelled, "Megan Lee Witt, The Photojournalist". That's what he thought I would be good at. He helped me hang it above my bed. It's interesting to me that my dad knew then what I know now - 25 years later. I am a creative force who is most powerful with my words, images, and taste. I'm an influencer. I'm a dreamer. I'm not a photojournalist, but I mean... let's get real. It's not that far off.

As I grew up, I thought about doing a lot of things, but writing and photography never left me. My journals turned into blogs and my photography interest manifested in working for various studios. Nothing quite hit the spot, but I was searching in the right places.

While I was searching, I was constantly invested in what I loved. I was writing. I was photographing. I was sharing my passions with others. I did A LOT of management over those years to pay the bills and became really good at stuff that now serves me in my current business such as financial organization, social media, visual displays, difficult communication, business goal-setting and more. I was honing various skill sets that I would later use AND I was doing things that filled me creatively even if it didn't pay a cent.

After my son was born I went back to school to finish my undergraduate degree and decided to do it in Organizational Management because 1) It seemed utterly reasonable and 2) I was a business junkie. I won't lie and say that degree changed everything. It actually changed very little for me, but it's still one of the things I'm most proud of in life because I did it with a 1 year old while working part-time.

I learned about my personal power in a way that you can only learn by doing something hard.

As a graduation gift, my in-laws bought me a camera. I didn't use it a lot at first, but slowly I picked it up more and more and over the past 3 years it's been an actual side job for me that's been super rewarding, creative, and financially helpful.

When Charlie and I started dating two and a half years ago, he would always say to me, "You should be a consultant." He himself is a consultant and thought I would be good at it. So when I started to obsess over starting my own company, I was constantly talking to Charlie about what I should do and when I think back to our talks it makes me laugh because I was just ignoring the obvious (and his advice) for some reason. I've always been someone who has to figure things out for themselves the hard way.

There was a mental block there that wouldn't allow me to see what was right in front of my face. Maybe I thought it was too basic or that no one would want my services. Maybe I wasn't sure I would like doing it. Maybe I was waiting for an "aha" moment that would blow me away like, "YOU SHOULD BE AN ASTRONAUT!" But if I had sat down with the people who know me and love me the most and said, "I'm starting a company. What am I good at? What should I sell?" I think my dad would have said, "You should be doing sales in some capacity. You should be managing people. You should be advocating for women. You should be writing. You should be taking photos." and Charlie would have said, "You should be working with other business owners to help them with their strategy & problem-solving." and my best friend, Kristen, would have said, "You should be teaching, training and managing people and doing it in a creative way." I would have saved myself a lot of angst!

You know how Steve Jobs had that speech about connecting the dots? He looked back over his life at all of the things he had done and saw the path to what he was currently doing.

Here are my dots:

+ My dad told me as a kid that I would be a great photojournalist

+ I've been interested in photographer for as long as I can remember

+ I've been a writer for as long as I can remember and used to want to be an English teacher

+ I've felt called to advocate for women since I was in my early twenties and so I took classes on Women's Studies in college and thought, for a while, that I wanted to be a midwife. As a result, I spent many years hosting natural birth groups, teaching childbirth education, being a doula, and apprenticing with home birth midwives. When my son was born, I had a home birth and it's one of my greatest personal values to this day.

+ I worked for two different photography studios briefly in my 20's and was offered a full-time job at one two years ago that I turned down.

+ I've always had a side business - whether it was baby-sitting, selling things on Craigslist, being a doula, or taking photos.

There are so many more "dots" that I don't have time to list, but the point is:

I wasn't paying close enough attention. My heart was doing the work for me but my brain was a little distracted.

When I finally decided to name my business, create a website, and list my services, I sat down with Charlie and thought through everything I could offer. The Upspeak Collective was born. "Just like that"... but really... The Upspeak Collective was born when I was born. It lived inside me from the beginning. It's my talents, my passions, my interested, my skills. It's ME. It looks like me. It sounds like me. It feels like me.

One of the most common things I hear from women who are just starting their businesses is, "I'm not sure what I'm best at. I'm not sure what I should be selling. I'm not 100%." They want to be working for themselves. They want to be supporting others. They want to do something creative. They want to quit their day jobs... but WHAT IS MY THING???

I understand that sentiment SO WELL and I also know now that YOU ACTUALLY DO KNOW! You are too busy looking in the wrong places, seeking the wrong things, comparing yourself to others, and buying into your doubts to see that it's right in front of you. It's actually right INSIDE of you. It's YOU!

So, who are you? What do you love? What are you great at? When do you light up the most? Make a list. Ask your family and friends. Pay attention. The answers are not "out there somewhere". They are right here, right now, and ready for you to notice.

(And thanks, Dad, for seeing me before I could fully see myself.) 

xo

Meg

PS - If you are interested in diving into what you are meant to do with your life or refining your current brand, reach out! meganleewitt@gmail.com

Meg Witt