The story of a creative college dropout.

Since I often emphasize the importance of sharing your story, it’s only fitting that I must share my own!

Here goes…

Born a Dreamer

My story starts in a fairly small town in Iowa.

A love for sports kicked off my days of being a dreamer. Hitting tennis balls with a baseball bat in my backyard, I would visualize myself playing in the big leagues as I smashed home runs over our backyard fence into busy traffic on the road above.

In high school, I decided to pursue the freedom that came with individual sports. This was the kick off to a huge love for skateboarding in the summers and snowboarding in the winter.

Because of these two activities, I decided I wanted to capture my friends doing these cool things. This is where my love for photo & video was born.

A Love for Creating

Freshman year of high school I purchased a Canon T3i with a fisheye lens and never looked back.

I created a series of videos while snowboarding that winter, and continued to document everything I could. Having the ability to put my vision into an actual creation felt like a dream come true (and it kinda is when you think about it 🤯).

This love for creating only grew stronger. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But I never knew if I could make a living doing something with a camera. (This was before I realized the massive potential behind it)

On a whim I decided to go to the University of Northern Iowa, because that was the only socially acceptable path to follow. And it was the furthest thing from where I needed to be.

The entire year was spent dreaming of my escape in a Volkswagen van and doing my “own thing” with photography.

As difficult as it was to explain to my parents, they were gracious in understanding my situation. I ended up sticking it out for both semesters, and then moving back home for the summer.

Then – I dropped out.

Well, I just never signed back up for classes. “Dropping out” sounds much cooler though, so we’ll stick with that.

That summer I launched my website, began selling prints, and offered a few photography services. I was also creating a vlog for a couple years, which was an amazing way to document my life during those ever-changing years.

The drive I had to make something of myself was unmatched. I had never felt that way before.

My motivation and drive fizzled a bit when my website launch and print sales didn’t quite go as planned. The idea was there, but I lacked experience and direction.

I wanted to continue pushing to do my own thing, but ended up giving into the comfort and opportunity of working at a local agency that summer.

Life with a 9-5

What started as a summer gig… turned into a five year job of growing from a photography intern to the team lead for photo & video.

I’m thankful for that opportunity, but I stuck with it for far too long.

Within the first few years I was dreaming of the “next thing.” Doing photo & video work as a full-time job was cool, but not in the way that I had imagined it would be.

Finally, one day my wife had enough of my frustration and pity. As I explained my frustration, she seriously asked me, “Eric, what are you going to do about it?”

And that marked the day where I sent the email that would kickstart my new life of searching and stoke.

One month later came my last day in the office! My mind filled with wonder, excitement, and of course… a bit of worry.

A couple forms of side-income would now become my full-time gig as I began to cherish the incredible amount of “time” I now found myself with.

Life After a Leap of Faith

I have learned more in these past nine months than I had in the past five years combined. Taking the time to learn how to invest in your future is one of the most important things you can do in your 20s.

I’m so grateful I’ve been able to dedicate time toward this.

What I have been learning lately is that putting yourself out there is difficult – but necessary.

I’ve been missing that piece of encouraging and inspiring others through things I create.

I’m learning that it’s okay to be myself and to put myself out there in a vulnerable way. People resonate with that, learn from that, and need more of that.

As they say, your highs are only as high as the lows you share.

It took a leap of faith for me to find that stoke again.

I don’t have it all figured out. I never will. But I’m doing my best to follow the call!

That’s my story – what’s yours?

–Eric P

This is issue #006 from my weekly newsletter, The Stoke Seminar. To receive these emails directly to your inbox, sign up for free.

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