A letter to myself, 10 years ago

Yo bro,

2007, huh? Right about now Britney Spears is shaving her head and you, my friend, are twenty years old, a college junior.

You think you see where you will be in 10 years. I'm here to break some news: It's not going to go according to your plan.

You see, you think you want to work in magazines, but you don't. Carrie Bradshaw may be your hero at this point, but now that I'm her age I can tell you she's an immature idiot. And I know it looked good when Anne Hathaway was busting her butt in last summer's blockbuster The Devil Wears Prada, but it's not as glamorous as it appears.

You're also pretty positive that you're no Annie Leibovitz, so you're convinced you'll never be a photographer at all.

In fact, you're going to hate photography in general come 2008. You're going to regret going to art school for it.

But I know: right now you're getting opportunities to intern for amazing places like MTV and Cosmopolitan Magazine. You will show up to your internships every day and slap a smile on your face even though your job is to look through stock images for 8 hours a day.

But you'll still want to do it for a living. Because Anne Hathaway.

20 year old Casey. Some things will never change.

20 year old Casey. Some things will never change.

You are about to go through a lot of tough lessons, girlfriend, and I want you to listen to me:

Sometimes you'll want to give up. You will think you are untalented and worthless. There will be points when you just want to run back home and stay in your comfort zone.

But you won't. You'll keep trying.

Don't worry, all this won't come for another year or so. Over this next year you'll think you have it all figured out. You're in your last year of college, you're about to be able to drink legally. After graduation, you'll be a shoe-in for a job in the Hearst building. The "Real World" has been scripted into simple steps in your head for you to follow, and you have checked off all the things you think your resume needs to succeed.

You'll sob when you watch your best friends, one by one, move to places you don't think you'll ever want to live: Minneapolis. Nashville. Los Angeles.

There's no way I'd ever move to Los Angeles, you'll say. You've never been, of course, but you know you're a New Yorker. The east coast is in your blood, after all.

Me, after I moved to Los Angeles in 2009

Me, after I moved to Los Angeles in 2009

But, Case, after these internships end, it is going to be rough. I don't envy you. You're going to have to say goodbye to all your friends all at once after you graduate and you're going to move somewhere where you know no one but your Mom. You're going to have to wait tables in Connecticut while you commute an hour and a half to New York to go to interviews. Company after company will turn you down. Those entry-level magazine jobs that you thought would be in the bag are going to go to people who have a year or two more experience under their belts. You're going to laugh at this idea of experience, because you have it. Or at least you thought you did. 

You're going to feel like a complete and utter failure.

Some shit is also going to go down with the housing market right when you graduate. Said shit makes it close to impossible to get a job in the magazine industry, because no one wants to buy magazines anymore.

You're going to write about how shitty it is to search for a job as a college graduate during a recession.

This was taken after one of 5000 interviews in NYC. You aren't going to get the job.

This was taken after one of 5000 interviews in NYC. You aren't going to get the job.

You'll realize pretty quickly after both personal and professional heartache that New York City isn't the right place for you, not right now at least. The day your story publishes in the New York Post is the day you decide to move to Los Angeles.

You see, you finally visit LA and end up extending your trip an extra week. Because you don't have a "real job." And then you're going to ugly cry the entire flight home like a child leaving Disneyworld for the first time. You're going to feel with your entire being that Los Angeles is the place you are supposed to be.

You find a job and decide to move to Los Angeles two weeks later. The job is in the magazine industry... ish. You accept the offer and move into a shared house with 3 other roommates.

You'll meet your future husband. You'll get a puppy.

This path won't be straight and simple, either. You'll slowly grow to hate the industry you thought you loved. You'll watch as print media slowly starts to die and you'll lose focus of what makes you happy. You'll show up and collect your paychecks but you won't be able to muster the smile you once had when you were a bright-eyed intern. 

You'll lose your sense of direction. You'll think being miserable at a dead-end job is how it's supposed to be. You won't pick up your camera for at least 4 years.

Then one day, your friend tells you she's getting married. You decide to dust off your camera and bring it to her wedding. She ends up using one of your photos as her profile photo on Facebook, even though you weren't the hired photographer. It feels pretty good. 

When you get back to LA after that wedding, your partner will tell you that you should just be a wedding photographer. You think he is insane.

My first *extremely underexposed* wedding photo from my friend's wedding that started it all.

My first *extremely underexposed* wedding photo from my friend's wedding that started it all.

Even though the prospect doesn't seem easy, and you have no idea how to BE a wedding photographer, your interest will be piqued in the same way Anne Hathaway once made being forced up Meryl Streep's butt into slavery look enticing. You'll start taking photos again. You'll have to reteach yourself how to use your camera, even though you got your degree in Photography. 

And then you'll lose your magazine-ish job.

You'll start to collect unemployment and feel like a total loser again. 

But, Casey. This job loss is actually just a blessing in disguise. Because less than a month later, you meet Joy.

You'll start over at a part time job with this cute blogger you once read about. You vaguely remember her talking about cupcakes or getting paid to eat cupcakes, and that's just about enough validation for you to accept a job with her. She trusts you to take some photos for her blog. She's the smartest businesswoman you have ever met, and you'll be determined to learn everything you possibly can from her.

You will become her assistant and start to take pictures every day. You won't lose sight of your side hustle, though, and you will soon start to get paid to take pictures. You will learn to love photography again.

I won't give it all away, but it's going to be ok. I mean, I know you, and I know you're one headstrong woman with the willpower to get through all this.

And I know right now you feel like you know everything, but keep an open mind. Don't stop believing in yourself.

You are definitely good enough.

Keep it real,

Your older self, 2017