“You can be anything you want to be.” I heard that countless time growing up, and my mom truly believed it each time she told it to me. If there were something I wanted to be, we would figure out a way to make it happen. This is probably why when someone asks, “what do you do?” I’m never quite sure of how to respond.

So, I tell the truth. Like many Americans, I have two jobs. One provides promised paychecks, benefits and a cozy office. The other provides a creative outlet, the ability to travel and a place for my soul to be happy.

However, “what do you do?” is usually quickly followed up with “but which one is your real job?” Well, which one is my real job? Most people assume my real job is at WVU Parkersburg where I’m an instructor, and that I run a wedding photography business because I enjoy it.

Truthfully, that’s a fair assumption. My degrees and the opportunities afforded to me from a supporting family and teachers have allowed me to advance into what is hopefully a life-long career that I love. Still, I find myself defensive over my photography business.

It’s not a side job, or something that I just do for fun. It’s a passion and a calling that I can’t ignore. I was always determined to go full-time with my photography, but I learned that I love my other job as well. I love learning, teaching and the camaraderie that comes from working in a tight knit organization.

There have been times when it’s been stressful, and I’ve wanted to quit one of my jobs. It would have been easier to retire my camera to recreational use only, but I just couldn’t do that. When you find something that lights a passion inside of you, letting it go would be nearly impossible.

As I advance in both careers, I’ve learned that it’s okay to love them both – and to pursue them equally. Having a scheduled paycheck allows me stability and the ability to plan for a stable future. Having skills in photography sets me apart from others in my field. Our society leads us to believe that the arts are only for the mega-talented (which we likely won’t be) or for those who want to work in mediocre jobs for the rest of their lives. This is not true. The arts, and our daydreams, are not for the mediocre. They are something we should pursue with every fiber of our being.

My business opened when I was 18, and it was nothing more than a daydream. It was something that I thought would be fun, but it turned in to so much more. My job as a creative has taught me things that no classroom can – like seeing the beauty in every person, or handling delicate situations with grace. There is so much to be learned through creative exploration, and I wouldn’t have had that opportunity without a daydream.

Time, and time again, people are led to believe that being an artist or a creative isn’t a real job – that it can’t pay the bills. Looking back, I am ever so thankful that I didn’t let the pressures of success and having “a real job” cave in my ambition to be a business owner and an artist.

Having a daydream keeps us going, and it feeds our souls. Don’t quit yours. Nurture it, and keep the passion alive.