Young Entrepreneur or the Year

A few weeks ago I was honored with receiving the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Campbell River by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce. The Young Entrepreneur of the Year award: "Honors a business owner or founder under the age of 35 who has excelled in business; exemplified leadership and entrepreneurial skills; and demonstrated exceptional vision that has contributed to business success."

I was absolutely floored to receive this award as I was nominated along with many other talented and inspired business owners! Other nominees include Scott Kilby, Campbell River Hyundai Heather Larkam, Urban Dance Connections Jonathan Kervin, Web Sense Aum Song Troughton, Embody Wellness

In any case, I was completely unprepared for the receiving of the award. The tidemark theatre was full of people. I was sitting in the furthest darkest corner of the room (furthest from the stage) so internally there was only one thing happening on my very long walk to the stage... a mantra repeating itself... "Do not fall Erin". Upon arriving at the stage, I awkwardly accept my award, break out my best double chin for the photo of me receiving my award (no, I will not be showing you that particular photo) and then realize that someone is telling me to "say a few words".

The whole world stops turning at this point. My instincts tell me to elbow anyone in my path, grab my award and head for the nearest exit. I am terrified. With a camera in my hand, I am fearless. Honestly. Nearly fearless. I will yell at a group of 200 or more people, cracking jokes, orchestrating an entire field of people into the right spot for the right photo. I can make cranky kids laugh, or smile, I can become best friends with the most ornery old fella, or the craziest auntie around. Without my camera, I am just another person terrified of public speaking.

I know the moment it all changed, yet I can't seem to overcome it. I was 21 and asked to give a speech about my personal involvement with Cystic Fibrosis, and specifically about my Uncle Michael (moms brother) who had passed away from it at the age of 21. Even writing those words brings my heart rate to a panic and the lump in my throat is painful. I had a beautiful speech written, there were funny parts, sad parts a great ending and beginning but the delivering of the speech was something I wasn't prepared for. Prior to this particular speech I was always the one to be the speaker. Grad fashion shows, MC's no problem. NO problem! So I thought, I would be just fine at the Rod Brind'Amour Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament. I was far from fine. I'm pretty sure I cried through the entire speech. I don't know if anyone even heard one word of what I said, but I just remember the whole time looking at my moms face (who was squatting in the front taking photos of me). Her face said "you're doing great, you're ok". But I knew, I was bombing. I was crying and spitting out words and trying to race through my speech. I've never been able to speak at a microphone since then. (without a camera).

So, forgive me for my one second "thank you everyone" speech at the Chamber Business Awards of Distinction event. While everyone else had amazing speeches prepared, saying eloquent things... I was fumbling and awkward and if we're being honest here... that is just totally me.

What I might have said, and should have would have been more like this...

Thank you for seeing me. Thank you to this amazing community for opening your arms to my art, to my dreams to my visions. Thank you for humoring all of my wild ideas and for supporting us through my imagery. I am so grateful for my clients. Every single one of you. I am grateful that you believed in me 5 years ago, and still do today. I'm grateful you've grown with me, and brought my images into your homes time and time again. I am grateful to the Chamber for recognizing me, for picking me out of the crowd and acknowledging me for all of my hard work and efforts. My business hasn't grown by itself. I've worked so hard to get to where I am today, and with the continued support of my beautiful family and friends and clients, we are able to stay in a city we love, have grown up in and want to raise our children in. I am so grateful.

Thanks to Lee from Island Life Photographics for the image above.