Being self-employed for a third of my life has always had me thinking about cost vs. value. I often hear, “it’s just too expensive.” I know I’ve certainly been guilty of saying it.
What’s valued is different for everyone.
For the past few days I’ve been thinking more about what things I find most important. With these devastating fires and families who are being forced to leave their homes, including my mother in law, I keep wondering how they feel. Deep down. What is it like to have everything you own threatened? I find myself playing it out in my head. What would I grab? What would I leave?
After my kids were safely in the car :), this is what I would grab next…
My beautiful box that’s filled with books and prints. It’s priceless. Not my $500 vacuum cleaner or double Bob stroller. Those can be replaced. These can’t.
I’ve talked to so many people about it and it’s always the same answer. Pictures.
Memories are written all over each image. Powerful memories.
We value our pictures. Tangible images that are printed for generations to enjoy. To thumb through and learn what our great-great-grandmother looked like.
Sure we have many that are never printed. The shutter is clicked and that image is never thought about again. Only given a short glance. Never displayed.
But some become family heirlooms. We don’t want to lose them. We print them, hang them on our walls and store them in our phones to proudly show friends and family.
We value them. And we cling to the memories they represent.
But for me there was a time when I didn’t value photography enough. I complained and felt sorry for myself because I couldn’t afford it. I really wanted it but it was too expensive. All the while spending thousands of dollars on things that I thought were more important. Never investing in imagery that represented my family at different stages in our life. I know I’m not alone on that one.
But here’s truth. I could afford it. But I didn’t value it enough. And what that translated into was that I didn’t value the time, money or creative talent that went into creating beautiful imagery.
You never realize what goes into something until you try it. That’s why professionals exist. We can’t master everything on our own. And if we want something done well, we hire a professional. Like my mom just said after painting and filling holes in her walls, “now I know painters are underpaid.” When we attempt it on our own, we’re usually left with a less than desired outcome and a new respect for a master in that field.
Think about what goes on behind the scenes to sustain any business. The amount of time and money that’s invested is insane. Really.
I’m thankful for my experiences and for the clients who value my services just as much as those who undervalue what I do. Because I learn from all of it. I’m also thankful for the variety of self employment I’ve experienced. Because now I know the scenario never changes.
Whether working in the beauty industry, as a doula or a photographer, I’ve never realized what is poured into perfecting a skill until I’m in it.
And now that I know, I have a hard time complaining about the cost of goods or services. The decision falls on me. Do I value it or not?
Who am I to say what it took to produce, learn and master unless I’ve tried it? The countless hours of training and perfecting a craft or an art. The money that is spent behind the scenes that no one knows about. The costs of necessities which aren’t provided by an employer such as health insurance and retirement.
This is how any price tag is created. And before we even see the cost, we’ve already determined if we value it or not.
I’m so grateful that I’m learning to see the value in others. It’s not about price. We all have the resources to obtain and enjoy what we value. There’s a sense of freedom that’s created from that understanding.
There’s so much talent out there. So many amazing products and services right at our finger tips. So many opportunities to invest in what we value. Thank you to everyone who pours their heart into what they do and allows others to enjoy!