Map Your Own Path

I use to get lost in articles that taught me how to be a freelance traveling photojournalist. With titles like, “How to Become a National Geographic Photographer” and “14 Ways You Can Become a Photojournalist” or “11 Things Photographers Wish They Know Before Becoming Freelancers,” I would swoon over the words on the page, imagining myself as one of them. During my senior year in high school, I hid behind my computer screen during class, reading these articles and storing every bit of advice. Then, I’d spend my lunches flipping through Nat Geo magazines and my evenings emailing people who lived in that mysterious, magical, far-away world that I wanted so badly to be apart of, desperately asking for advice.

However, it seemed that with each wave of passion, excitement and certainty that I could do anything I wanted, I would inevitably become frustrated and disheartened as I realized that these articles and pieces of advice were only to tease people into believing they could be part of this VIP world of adventure and excitement. I convinced myself that far too many people desired to be a photojournalist, and that I was only another body in the crowd, looking naively up at those who had someway, some mysterious way, been accepted into this prestigious group of people. The cycle would continue: excitement, passion, certainty, eagerness and courage that would quickly morph into confusion, frustration, exhaustion, and ultimately leave me in low spirits.

A little over a year ago I read Lynsey Addario’s book, “It’s What I Do,” which chronicles her life as an aspiring and accomplished war-zone photographer. I read the last page feeling hungry for more. I had spent the previous pages getting lost in her story, feeling a real connection between her life and mine as I paralleled my future with her reality. When it was over, I only wanted to know more, read more, hopef