Personal: 2016 Review



2016, what a year. I typically spend this time tallying up my achievements and sharing with the world the number of weddings I photographed or the number of trips I went on. This year, I find myself too exhausted to share those details and feel as if they aren't even that important. Statistics about how great we think we are end up making other people feel less valued, less successful (at least for me). I set many goals for 2016. I made it the year of my business, taking classes and really nailing down growth, marketing, numbers, etc. When I look at my goal charts, I should feel great about myself, but in reality, I am completely exhausted and ready to run away from everything I've been  building. I'm learning that the American dream and business model is not at all working for me.

I do this thing where I work at my goals without rest and get very upset at myself if they aren't perfect. There is a lot of insecurity deeply rooted in that and I'm learning how much my need for approval rules my life. So much so that I don't know how to slow down and thoroughly enjoy anything (I really don't). I just work and work and hide from my feelings.

I'm deciding to not set any specific goals this year (my insides cringe and sigh in relief all at once). Instead, I'm going to focus on how I want to feel and grow as a human, apart from numbers or recognition or huge life events listed on spreadsheets or social media. This is a big deal for me.

I want to know simplicity, wonder, fun, and connection. Not measured by lists but by the amount of joy in my life.


Simplicity, defined as keeping only the necessities and clearing away all else. Taking on a lot less work and giving myself more balance in lifestyle, mental, and physical health. I want to feel unhurried and intentional in every project I create. This also means focusing on a few endeavors and not trying to be the queen of every artistic avenue. I want to feel pleased with the decisions I make and go to sleep without a busy mind.

Wonder, defined as expanse, freedom to explore, no limits or rules for myself and letting the curiosity flow. Setting the inner critic to the side and letting myself create what excites me, intrigues me, and gives me life, regardless of what people think or how good the final product looks. I want to immerse myself in more exploration and less reasoning through why an idea is scary or a bad idea. Saying yes and being open to newness. 

Fun, defined as playfulness and less seriousness. Maybe it's singing in public to my favorite song or biking across town or deciding to go on a road trip to the middle of nowhere for a simple picnic. I used to love rollerskating so I may bring back the 90's elementary school vibes. I love hip hop and dance clubs. I love night swimming (in non-creepy waters). Who knows. I want to have more fun and take my life a lot less serious. 

Connection, defined as others really knowing me and being involved in their stories. Social media and texting have made me think I'm connected to others a lot more than I actually am. I want to be more vulnerable and okay with opening my heart. I want more sleepovers and to let people know me as a multi-faceted human who values their friendship.

Sadie Culberson Studios CCCD Modern Asheville Wedding Photographer

This is the first time I don't feel overwhelmed or tasked with the duty to make myself a super human at the beginning of a new year. I feel refreshed; eager to simply grow and be myself. And that is definitely how I want to spend my life. Happy New Year, friends!