You know what my heart really wants. Someone to love. Like deep love. And I want my person one day to deeply love me too. I want the kind of love that’s unconditional and I want it to be true. I want to build a life with my person and not just sit in the background observing and photographing couples that have done it right. I want to share in both the ups and downs of this thing called life. I want to grow with my person through life and grow old together.

My heart wants what every heart wants and rightfully deserves.

Finding love for myself has been the single most difficult thing I have ever had to do, and it often leaves me feeling like I am less deserving than others or that there is something wrong with me. It is because of this that led me to write this post.

This has been something that has weighed heavily on my heart for more years than I can possibly count.

I am turning 34 this year, and by now I thought I would have found it. Be it in South Africa or anywhere else in the world. But I am still searching. For the last 7 years, almost every single guy that I have met or gone on a few dates with me have uttered one or more of the following:

“You are too Ambitious…”
“… too passionate”
“…to independent”
“You will make a terrible mother and wife someday”

or when we have been dating for a few months I am expected to give it everything that makes my heart happy.

These are all centered around what I do for a living. Being a photographer and following my true passion and calling in this life. I was blessed with the gift of photographing the world that I discovered at an early age. I use my talent to share the world with the world. I capture moments like weddings or the birth of a child, that people will treasure for the rest of their life. These images are all they have left as a reminder of how one felt at that moment in their life when one reached those milestones. I know it does for me, and I strive to share my gift with others.

Single handily these lines are the worst things you could ever say to me. It makes me feel unrightfully judged. I get emotionally drained by this, and each time I hear this I am finding myself building walls up that I am less likely to do having not had these conversations. I feel like I do a really good job at putting myself out there each time and showing the other person who I really am. It’s very seldom that I tarnish a new person with old brushes, even having heard this a few times.

Tonight I had yet another hard conversation after sharing with someone I care about good news on projects that I have spent my life working on. It wasn’t received well and what followed was a tough conversation about me being too ambitious. Almost always when this conversation happens it throughs me off course and really affects me. I have had a lot of these conversations in the last month. Just the other day, I had a family member say to me that I can’t carry on like this and have to settle down soon. When I asked her what she meant by “can’t carry on”, my love for what I do was mentioned. She said I would have to stop traveling and stop doing photography and stop doing what I loved doing in the name of love. It threw me off, and having to be respectful I had to stop myself from blurting out what I would usually say when put into this position – “But! Pilots and Air Hostesses deserve love”. I don’t know why my right to love and be loved constantly gets taken away from me.

I know some pretty successful people who follow their passions, and one of my project business partners is a successful career woman who is happily married and has 4 beautiful children. My cousins are pilots, the one is happily married to his wife who is also in aviation. They have two beautiful children and a healthy functioning family unit. The other has a beautiful marriage and is a dad to 4 beautiful children. My sister is an ambitious businessperson who is constantly working at a better life than what we ever have had. She has been with the same person for more than 8 years and happily married for one year. I had a mentor who after 9 days of knowing that person got married to him, was married for 47 years and still followed her passion and achieved her dreams. I have photographer friends who have more than one business and still manage to do it all. One friend is a photographer, owns another independent business, and has a long-term girlfriend and two children.

These are my relationship role models, and I strive to have relationships just like theirs. I am not too sure why my right to have what I see out there gets taken away from me in small-minded conversations.

I do know this, I never want to be made to feel like who I am is a problem in the eyes of my person. I never want to feel like I am less of a person, or made to feel like I am less deserving of love because someone has an opinion about my successes or my dreams. And I do not want to feel like I can’t show these sides of myself and share such an important part of my life with the person I care for.

After the tough conversation this evening, I called my favorite person with my vulnerable heart on the table and tears streaming down my face. This topic really makes me take a couple of steps backward. It is a soft spot that really hits home. There is nothing like reaching out to the one person who really knows you better than you know yourself sometimes. In a way, I almost feel saddened by this since I know who I am and I know who I strive to be, but every so often I need that validation to get me back on track.

If anything, having a business and other ongoing projects I have committed to should show the other person the incredible inherent qualities I have within me. They should be clear signs that I don’t give up on the things I set my mind to easily or without a flight. I have a successful follow-through. If I say I am going to do something I go out and do it. I don’t throw in the towel when things get difficult, I persevere through these times, because I see the end goal is in sight. Having your own business you are constantly learning new skills or new ways of doing something. This should show my ability to adapt to change. It taught me how to develop strong problem-solving skills. Photographing children has taught me an incredible amount of patience. It shows my ability to be patient with myself and with others. Photographing people has opened my heart up and developed my compassionate side. Photographing poverty and sharing people’s stories have made me become kind and open-hearted. It made me stop and give them time and day to open up to me and share in their stories and life lessons. It’s made me stop and listen to people. It put me at the forefront of learning from every single person that has come my way.

I shouldn’t let this weigh so heavily on my heart, yet it does. My passion for photography and all that I do goes deeper than all of this. It has given me a much-needed purpose in my life and helped me heal from past painful life experiences. Without going too deep into this post, certain circumstances forced me onto the streets at the early age of 17. At that time I had a choice to make. I could have become a victim of my circumstances or it could be a motivating force for me to change the course of direction of the one life I was given. I choose to become a survivor and push through these hard times. I fought hard to build a life by myself and worked incredibly hard. Where friends were out every evening, I had to make these youthful sacrifices in order to build a career in the corporate space alongside getting a degree. I bought a house at 21, and 12 years later I have fought to keep it. Life pushed me in a direction that developed one of my best qualities – my ambitious side.

I don’t understand why I have to choose one or the other. My passion or love.

So when I hear these words, It hits a nerve, because I get judged for being the very personal life has taught me how to be. Judged for being the best version of myself – the very thing that originally drew them to me. My career in photography started shortly after I had to endure such pain and heartache. And it’s something I won’t let anyone take away from me. I started the Holding Onto Humanity project as an outward expression of exactly this. We live in a selfish world, where people are “ego driven” and “self” driven. It’s my way of challenging the world to be mindful of others and to appreciate who they really are for what they really are.

I am yet to meet a heart that sees my heart for what it is and sees me for all that I am. To look deep into my successes and understand and appreciate where it comes from. See the good qualities in me that I had to develop over time that will give my relationship the foundation for long-lasting unconditional love. I am yet to find the one that will take a chance on me without judgment. I strongly feel that when you are doing the things you love, the right person will come along.

I have a lot of love to give to an appreciative heart. I will make an amazing partner and the parents of my three God Children believe in me so much that they entrusted me with such a special role in their children’s lives.

Until then, I have to protect myself from getting blindsided by narrow mind views and opinions that don’t leave me feeling very good about myself. The old me would have compromised my happiness to make others happy, and that’s something I have committed to never do again.

And if I never find it, I will be okay with it. I have extended that love onwards to every single person that has crossed my path. I have loved fully and unconditionally, and proud that I can still continue to do so in such adversity.

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