It was the fall of 2007. I had recently quit my job working for another wedding photography studio in Carlsbad, CA. I had scrapped my plans to move back east even though I had paid to break my lease early, had no job, a meager savings, had sold all of my furniture, and shipped a good portion of my clothes and personal belongings to Maryland.

I was sitting at the kitchen table in a small condominium that Kosta and I decided to rent together. We had met only two months earlier. He was working. I was crying. I was trying to start a business with a single camera, a laptop and a big heart.

I was so focused on what I didn’t have. I didn’t have a desk, or Microsoft Word for Mac to write contracts with, or a credit card processing company, or a website, or business cards, or clients, or a fancy studio or office, or a great dress to wear to a networking event, or the confidence to even talk to anyone at a networking event because I was afraid. I was afraid because I thought to start a business I had to be someone I wasn’t.

And the worst part is, I let my fear slow me down.

I look back on those days when I was frustrated, insecure, scared to death and there’s so much I would go back to that girl and say. I would tell her that the heart would be enough. That working really hard, researching everything, and caring would suffice. That it would just take time. I’d remind her to stay true to herself. To scrap what you think a traditional business person “ought to be”. That being you was good enough. That it was okay to go to networking meetings and be kind and genuinely interested in other people’s lives and just get to know people on a personal level. To share your story. That you could have a business and not have to be pushy with sales. That it was BETTER that way.

I’d tell her to enjoy life because in 2012 when you’re no longer working at the kitchen table but have a home office and an office in Little Italy, oodles of camera gear, way more knowledge and experience, friends at networking meetings, and 42 fabulous weddings on the books for the year that it’s still scary. And there will always be a way of measuring that still makes you feel like you haven’t accomplished enough.

What I am focusing on as my true accomplishment in the past 5 years in my life and in my business is the absolutely wonderful people whom I’ve met and who have been a part of this portion of the journey I’m on. To the amazing clients who book me, my friends, my family – every single day I am grateful for you. I’ve learned so much from you and you are a reflection of me following my heart. I’m undoubtedly most proud to have you by my side. Thank you for cheering me on.

For those of you thinking of starting a business, going through a big life change, or feeling stuck or insecure – know that being true to yourself and having a big heart will be enough. Go out into the world being you, being generous, and hardworking. And don’t let the fear hold you back.