I’m-a-big-kid-now…

Can’t you just hear the toys-r-us theme music playing?

This year has been WEIRD ya’ll. Se weird that I apparently now say ya’ll, despite the fact that I’ve lived outside the great state of Ohio for a grand total of 3 months of my life, and those were spent in DC. Whatever, blame my southern friends.

I was never really one of those people who couldn’t wait to grow up. Sure, I was excited for things in the future, like being done with high school, graduating college, etc. But it wasn’t like, omg I can’t wait to be an adult. At all. In fact, I resisted the urge for a really really long time. At 18 I decided I wasn’t an adult, really, because I was still in school and my parents were helping me out and really, I couldn’t even drink so whatever. Then I graduated from college, but I was only 20! And I was starting grad school and my parents still paid my car insurance so clearly, that means I’m not yet an adult. Then I was 21 and I can drink… but really if you’re in school and you’re still on your parents’ health insurance it so doesn’t count, right?

Then I graduated from law school, and I took the bar, and I got a job. And I paid my parents back (some) of the money I owed them. And I turned 24. And I think….. I think I’m an adult now? Weird.

September 1 will mark one year of really being “on my own” with no assistance from my parents or loans. In the past almost-a-year, as events wash over me, I realize again and again that, holy cow, I have to kind of be a grown up (despite the fact that I don’t feel much different than I did at 16). I had to get my own health insurance (job doesn’t provide it– boo). My own car insurance. I set up an IRA. I set up a savings account. I started paying back my loans. It occurs to me that so much of being an adult really just boils down to management of money. Think about how much time and effort we spend every day just trying to keep everything organized and paid so that we can exist. It’s mind boggling.

Recently I decided to recommit myself to my first passion– photography. I have loved photography since I was about 14 years old and my dad gave me his 1970s SLR and taught me how to shoot. He built me a dark room in our basement, and when I was 16 I got a new SLR for my birthday. I wanted to go to college for photography, but it wasn’t “practical” and really– I like the stability of a “normal” job. I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a starving artist (although maybe if I’d gone that route the weight problem wouldn’t have occurred… hmmm… food for thought).

Throughout school I’ve kept up my photography hobby but there wasn’t much time for it. Well now, there’s time. The past year I’ve passively tried to get my work into some galleries and I’ve sold a grand total of 3 prints. Clearly, I need to work harder. So, I decided to set up a business. I will do engagement photos, family photos, senior photos, etc. Also, I will work harder at trying to market my prints and take them to art fairs, etc. Sounds easy enough right? Take some photos, print some business cards, make a website… right? No?

Of course not. I’ve spent the last month in the throes of frustration with this business. I couldn’t figure out how to make the kind of website I wanted, until finally my sweet cousin the web designer took pity on me and just offered to do it himself.

Then the tax issues. I have a history with the IRS. I don’t like them, and they don’t like me. This business means that I will technically be the sole-proprietor of two businesses (I am a 1099 at my legal job)– which means I basically painted a big sign on my forehead that says AUDIT ME PLEASE. Thus, I need to make sure I do everything perfectly… but have you ever tried to figure out tax law? Good lord. It’s hard enough to fill out a 1040-EZ, but once you start getting into business taxes with licenses and deductions and SALES TAX? Holy cow. And I need insurance apparently?

This whole thing turned into such a mess that I gave up and got professional help. I hired an accountant this week to handle my taxes, and I had that moment again “damn, I’m an adult.” I’m an adult with two businesses, and a personal accountant, because even with a BA and JD under my belt, I can’t figure out the freakin’ tax laws enough to not get myself thrown in jail. Or at least fined a boat-load of cash.

It’s weird how this stuff sneaks up on you. I could’ve sworn that I was just sitting in my room (decorated with christmas lights and cds glued to the walls), listening to dave matthews and getting ready for work at the restaurant. All of a sudden I’m a 24 year old lawyer/photographer with an accountant. And I like where I am… I wouldn’t change a thing. But still…. surreal.
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