So, last weekend I hit a huge milestone in my life. I graduated from college! I have to be honest, if someone would have told me 4 years ago that I would be going to school at The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology for Photographic Technologies I would have probably said they were out of their mind.
Photography has been a hobby of mine for a long time, but quite seriously, I didn't expect it to become my career choice after high school. My plan for a long time before deciding to go to NAIT was to receive a scholarship and play college softball in America. I wanted to get a degree in sports nutrition while I was playing my favourite sport of all time. My dreams consisted of everyone knowing who I was and what I did. I wanted to be an allstar athlete and I wanted the world to be jealous of my life. From junior high to grade 11, that was my plan, and nothing on the face of the earth was going to redirect my path. There was only one problem that I couldn't even see at the time, which was the fact that I really didn't have any inspiration to actually work my butt off, research schools, and put in a good effort at getting my name out there as a Canadian athlete. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I did absolutely nothing to be able to play in the states, but I just didn't care deep down about trying...I just wanted to be this amazing athlete. Thats it. I didn't want to put in very much effort to get there. But why?
I can't say there was anything as crazy as a Loney-Toon-type hammer that hit me on the head and changed my mind completely, but there were a couple things that obviously skewed my life plan quite drastically.
I will never forget the day that my head-coach Rob met with me one late-summer afternoon at a Starbucks and had an inspiring conversation with me. He had this crazy idea on his mind that I, Carlee Marie Pilla, should start a winter training clinic for young softball pitchers. I had coached a few times prior to starting my own clinic, but I was honestly just so flattered that my own coach thought I was good enough to be a coach too! In short, I fell in love with coaching and it truly humbled me as an athlete of the same sport. I became obsessed with being able to share my knowledge with young, inspiring athletes that were so eager to soak up as much information as they could to better themselves as athletes. THAT inspired me more than anything else ever had before. As I continued coaching over that year, it became harder and harder to visualize myself leaving Canada to play ball for myself. All of the boastful thoughts of me being an allstar athlete that were in my head were gone. I found more inspiration to just be an all-around better person through coaching than anything....ever.
It really hit me about half way through grade 12; when I realized that my dreams of a career were leaning more towards being a photographer rather than a sports nutritionist. In all honesty I hated biology in school, and I definitely did not want to sit myself in a class every day that I hated going to. Why would I want to do that? The inspiration I gained from coaching was pushing me more towards a artistic love, something I naturally LOVED doing, but wanted to be better at. I think what I was inspired by the most with photography, was that there was so much to it that I honestly didn't understand. But the will to get better, and be better pushed me in a direction of being obsessed with bettering the skills that I naturally already had.
After taking a year off of school just to make sure photography was what I wanted to do, I realized I just couldn't get rid of the artistic mindset I had. I decided to apply to NAIT and follow an inspiration that was still bursting at the seams. Overall, it was one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life. I can't even begin to explain how much I learned over the course of 2 years. Yes, I learned a massive amount of geeky things about photography, but I also learned a lot about myself and my soul.
I have a lot of people ask me why I passed up such a great opportunity to go down to America to play a sport I am still in love with to this day. Well, I decided to follow a dream I had been subconsciously ignoring for years. Don't get me wrong, I still find a lot of joy in playing softball, I am so thankful for every opportunity it has given me to travel the world and compete at extremely high levels. But I find so much fascination in photographing people and of course athletes and just making them feel confident, powerful, and inspired themselves. I think NAIT showed me how to really create and also how to show individuals they should be proud of who they are through my photographs.
I am inspired every day. I find more and more inspiration through coaching as well as photography the more I do it. That is something I honestly don't think I would have found if I would have gone away to college and because of that I am beyond thankful that I went with my gut feeling, took a leap of faith and stayed in Alberta to study photography and continue coaching. I am feeling more energized than ever now that I have officially graduated. I'm ready to take on the world and leave my mark as a professional photographer!
That's all for now, strive to be the BEST you,