2018 Taught Me.

As 2018 is coming to a screeching halt and 2019 is knocking on the door ready or not, I’ve spent the last day of this extraordinary year letting my mind wander back to the places I’v been and seen, the things I’ve done, and everything in-between. 2018 embodied so much personal growth for my mind and being. 2018 saw love, loss, growth, freedom, distance, courage, bravery, success, and most of all strength. 2018 knocked me low and I soared high. When life gives you lemons, what do you do? Is there even a correct answer for that overused statement? As I am looking back on 2018, one day away from 2019, I have come to the realization that things haven’t happened TO me, they have happened FOR me. I am running into the new year, not as a new woman, but as the same strong, independent, confident, driven, and loving woman that I have always been. I am running after the same goals that I have established, I am breaking my own records, and blowing my own damn mind. We learn something from every year and I can honestly say that 2018 was a hell of a year, and 2019 is going to be a record year as well.

I began the year figuring out that quality over quantity get’s you farther. I encountered some amazing people. Some who I have loved and lost along the way, and some who are still sitting by my side through thick and thin. I have re established connections with people whom I thought may never look my way again because of decisions I once made. All of these people serve a huge purpose in your life. Most people have personal connections and business connections, but I really don’t. I don’t know if it is because I have built my brand around my life because that is what people have shown to love, or if it is because the people dear to me see just how passionate I am about my career. I think it is a mix of the both. I strive to bring quality to my feed, to my posts, and I strive for genuine connections with my clients. Most of my personal connections have become business connections because they have so graciously invested in my career as I have, and most of my business connections have become personal connections because when you do business with me you get a part of my heart and soul. 2018 taught me that quality trumps quantity, and I will fear the love of my small circle any day.

Piggybacking off of quality vs. quantity has brought me to the realization that the people that start with you don’t always end with you. You will find that some people that ride with you won’t die with you. Wish them well and hold the door open for them as they run off to find what they are searching for. Don’t hold a grudge. You have to understand that just as your mind plays tricks on you and you deal with insecurities everyday, so do others around you. You also have to understand that you can be the best person in the world, but people who are not ready for you will absolutely not be able to handle you no matter how much you try to force the situation. Just because someone has left our lives does not mean that we have to hate them, that we have to write them off, or that we have to be bitter. When you find yourself in an empty place, look around you. I promise, you won’t find it that empty at all. I think we focus so much on everything that is going wrong, without even giving ourselves an option to see all of the beautiful things that are at our finger tips going right. Use seasons that you didn’t expect to end to make room for new seasons to begin. Be vulnerable within these seasons. Be picky with your time and who you give it to. Use things such as breakups, losses, deaths, etc. as an escape to experience growth within yourself. You will be surprised the things that will come to you when you begin to sit back and not look for them. When you go looking for things, most of the time you find the wrong things. When you’re not looking for things or people, they might just happen to bump right into you.

This morning I took my own trash out. Seems like an everyday chore, right? As a woman, it is so easy to think that we need someone. Far too often we mistake lust for love, and we trick ourselves into feeling empty. Yeah, I’m guilty too. What’s your career like? What’s your personality like? What’s your future like? If you’re uncertain of it, you better get to figuring it out. It’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up or where you want to go in this life, but it is not okay to sit around wasting time not figuring it out hoping that some man will come along and validate your identity. I promise- he does not think it’s attractive. If you find a man who wants you to be all about him and his career, and isn’t worried about yours, I can assure you, he’s not the one. I say this from a personal standpoint as my career has reached an all time high, my skills have multiplied, and I am the happiest I have ever been in my life to this point- yet I am alone. Correction, I am not alone, I just have no significant other rather than my loyal pup who lays in my lap as I type this. If I have learned anything in this life it is that I have been in love, I have encountered the best relationships in my life thus far, yet nothing has made me as happy as the places that my career has taken me, and the opportunities that have unfolded before my eyes. I have learned that anyone can leave at any point in life, but your career won’t leave you. When all is lost, in love, your career isn’t. Set your dang goals. Set them high. Put them first. Run after them instead of people who aren’t ready to handle you at 100 proof. Take your own trash out, and don’t cry about it. Next.

You are your power, and you don’t need anyone to tell you so. I’ve always known this, but I’ve never quite fully understood this. As a young entrepreneur I always want to get my hands on everything. I want to do the most. I certainly at one point had too many irons in the fire. Just 4 short months ago when I began to pursue my photography full time after picking up my life and moving to a new state, I learned to delegate myself to the moving parts that needed the most oil. I quit my full time salary paying job to turn a hobby into a career after SO many people told me that I couldn’t do it. People jokingly ask me “How’s work going?” & I now respond with “Better than I ever imagined possible- absolutely wonderful!” rather than “Oh, it’s just work.” I made decisions for myself, by myself, that affected other peoples futures, and other peoples schedules. I was flat out scared. I have way too soft of a heart and I felt bad. That’s when I realized that I had to do what was right for me. I had to set myself free and begin living the life that I imagined- that I was capable of living. There are so many parts of the world and people that needed me, and I was the only thing holding myself back. I knew that someone, somewhere was depending on me to do what I was called to do in this life. I have been fortunate to meet a few of those someone’s in these 4 short months of full time fun having, and I like to think that I have left a positive mark on their hearts. I get asked all the time “Were you nervous to pursue photography full time?” I don’t think I was ever nervous to pursue photography full time, I was never nervous whether it would “work” or not. I knew it would, because I knew my power. I knew that whatever I put my mind to and ran at with 100% would play out just how it was suppose to. There are places I would have never seen, and people that I would have never met had I not taken the greatest leap of faith in life thus far. I will never, ever look back. I have done all of this, because I am my own power, and I have never needed anyone to tell me so.

Growing others grows you. It did not take me long to figure this out. I strive to show others the way to happiness, but I cannot take them there. I have always been the person to offer advice when I never took that advice myself. I have always been the person that is there for everyone else and can solve all of the worlds problems, but can’t even begin to dissect my own. I have watched my friends and loved ones grow, and nothing warms my heart like it. I have seen my best girlfriends gain confidence and learn their personal worth, and run with it. I have helped others in my industry grow by sharing my technicalities and skills. I help others, because I know what it is like to sit alone and not be helped. I know what it is like to begin from the bottom, and rise to the top, and everyone in the world should get to experience this. I don’t do it to shine light on my name or my business, I do it to see that others feel accomplished, and successful. The sky has been proven to not be the limit. I want to reach the limits, and I want to take people along with me.

I have learned that taking photos is worth so much more to me than anything that has to do with me at all. Taking photos is an experience within itself. Each new place that my camera takes me I learn to appreciate my craft just a bit more. Photos document a moment or person in time that can never be replayed. Sure, people are still the same people, but they will never be quiet like they were the moment a photo was captured. Sometimes, a photo is among all that is left. 2018 brought joy, and tragedy, one being the loss of 2 of my friends. They were sons and daughters, husband and wife, and carried numerous other names. My photos made their way around the world honoring these two precious souls memories. The joy that has filled my heart knowing that I provided tangible photos for their families to hold onto forever will never be replaced. This has nothing to do with me, but I believe it has everything to do with being in the place that God called me to be, at the right time. Remember how I said up there that there is someone somewhere depending on you to do what you were called to do- I believe with my whole heart that this was one of those instances, and they were some of those people.

This brings me to talk about the fact that God Heals. God heals your hurting hearts, you just have to turn them over to Him. When you are investing more of yourself into relationships other than your relationship with Him, get ready for Him to humble you. In 2018 I learned to never put my trust and faith into anything more than I put my trust and faith into God. People serve purposes in our lives, but God serves greater purposes. God brings us the people, places, and opportunities that we need within our lives in due time. I believe in fate, but I believe in the power of our loving God more. I learned the peace that you can gain when you put your worries and troubles in His hands. I learned that there is not a day that goes by that I can’t conquer when I begin the day by asking God to guide my steps. Most importantly, I learned that there is not anything worth having in this life if God is not in the center of it.

If you have made it this far and are still reading, the point of this was to share with you a few things that 2018 taught me. I could have let 2018 define me, change me, or make me bitter. I could have slumped and lost- but I chose to conquer 2018 with the abilities that God gave me. I chose to run after my passions, chase goals, and love people. I am not ending 2018 the way I begin it, and this New Years eve looks a lot different than last New Years eve, and for that I am thankful. I found a quote & it read “Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be happy and let me be kind. Let me be sincere, truthful, and courageous. Let me be honorable. Let me be faithful, let me love. Just let me be something every blessed minute, and when I sleep let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is lost.”

Here’s to 2018, and cheers to 2019.

Let’s live, and love, and travel, and be. Love while you have love, and live while you have life.

Oh, & don’t forget to snap pictures- you can never have enough of those.


Madi Wagner