carly | on taking risks and chasing dreams
She's about to take off on the adventure of her lifetime.
Meet my friend, Carly Dame. She's an incredibly passionate woman who is dedicated to creating a life of her own design.
Carly and I share a deeply rooted desire to be free. We used to talk about taking "the leap" to escape reality in pursuit of our deepest callings. Carly saw herself touring the southern United States in a school-bus-turned-house-on-wheels, passing the days with the man she loves and her greatest creative passion: film photography. Back in August, Carly took that leap. She quit her job and stepped into the unknown. Now, seven months later, her and David are about to hit the open road.
I met up with Carly last week for a photoshoot, stopping partway through for coffee and treats at one of my favourite spots (Bâtard Bakery). We chatted about what inspires her and the many hurdles she's overcome to get to this place. Here are the highlights:
J: What inspired you to take the leap?
C: I was feeling trapped in my life … looking around at my job, my apartment … nothing felt true to me anymore. I had a now or never moment … I could continue on down that path or follow my dreams, which in a lot of ways was scarier. It came down to a tipping point.
J: Since then, what has been the biggest challenge?
C: Feeling like I deserve it and that I am good / creative / driven enough. I’ve always been conditioned to think “wow … that would be great if I could do that … but I don’t actually think I can.”
Being confident in myself and trusting that I can do it has been the biggest challenge ... not letting self doubt derail the whole project.
J: Has this been easier than you thought it would be?
C: Yes. There were so many things that I was worried about happening that never did happen. There were many things I didn’t know when I left my job. I’ve realized that everyone that’s done anything that’s interesting or bold or inspiring has had to make a shift like that …
where you’re not in complete control of your life and you step back and just see what happens.
J: I agree. I feel like it has nothing to do with luck, or things coming together for you by chance … It’s about a willingness to withstand discomfort. It will come together for you if you are willing to withstand it but the truth is, most people aren’t willing to do that.
C: Yes! People look at my situation and think, wow .. that’s so romantic and interesting, I wish I could leave my job and go on a trip like that, but I never could. Yes, circumstances are different … but realistically, I’ve been living in a vehicle in the coldest winter that Vancouver's had in years … we have to chop firewood every night to get heat and we don’t have running water … there have been some very hard days. Dealing with that, dealing with working for myself, pursuing a completely new creative endeavour ... not having a safety net. But I think that to get to a point where you’ll do anything to succeed you have to get rid of your safety net.
J: What inspires you?
C: Anything that authentic … people, places. That is the most inspiring thing to me. Unless it’s real and true, I lose interest in it. I think that’s why I’m drawn to film photography … it just feels like a much more organic, authentic process to me. You’re capturing a moment in a tangible way. That is a big thing … I think about that a lot.
J: That was my next question … why film?
C: With film photography, the whole environment that you’re in affects the image. The temperature of the room, the dust on your fingers … everything adds to the image. You’re truly capturing a moment. If it’s really hot out, your film with have a slightly orange or red tint. And you can feel it when you look at it, you can feel the heat. When I went down to California last time, you can see little bits of sand on the photos and that’s actually the desert earth on the photo. It’s tangible, it’s real.
J: Incredible. In this digital age, we’re losing touch with that.
C: Yes. With a digital camera, you can take 10,000 moments and it’s almost like the shots you choose are manufactured .. they’re not real anymore because you’ve taken so many.
J: Agreed. I love that you have to be intentional about the photo you’re taking. Instead of taking as many pictures as you possibly can, take ten incredible photos that actually mean something to you.
C: Exactly! Every single shot, I intend for it to be great. With digital, you can take as many as you need to, and you lose the intention behind it.
J: What are you most afraid of?
C: I’m still afraid to fail.
J: What’s failure?
C: Good question …
not wanting to let myself down, setting big goals and then to not reach them is really scary.
I don’t know where it stems from … Before I really crafted my life so that I couldn’t fail. I wouldn’t take risks that I didn’t quite know that I would be able to do, I would say no to opportunities that I wasn’t quite sure would work out. Since leaving my job and being free, I’ve had to work through that.
J: You saw your fear and stepped towards it ... has it softened?
C: Absolutely. And honestly, when I think of it … since then, I have failed (certain photo shoots, etc.) and it’s not that bad, it’s really not that bad!
J: If you were to go back to your hardest day what would you tell yourself?
C: Feeling like you’re at the end of one path just means you’re at the start of a new one. If things aren’t flowing and you’re not feeling passionate, move on to a new path. Just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. I feel like a lot of people go through life without giving themselves a chance to see what their made of, to rely on themselves. They’ll do anything possible to make sure they keep their job and maintain comfort in their life.
But when you throw it all away, you’ll see what you’re really made of. You’ll find out that you can get out there and follow your dreams.
Carly's story is an important one as it proves to anyone who has a dream they fear is impossible or foolish that with resilience, dedication and surrender, anything is possible. Not only that, it demonstrates that we are not alone in the challenges we face and that those things need not hold us back.
For more on Carly, discover her stunning photography and follow along on their incredible journey.