The DIOP Circle V.31

February 9th, 2020


Shannon Jackson

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're presenting Shannon Jackson. She's our 1,292th customer and loves the Kerma, Nansi, and Amar patterns the most.

Do you remember your first day of school? What you wore? Your shoes or your pencil case? Do you remember your backpack?

I remember how my teacher, another black woman, loved playing with my hair in the morning. My mom would comb my hair into a ponytail and when I got to school, Ms. Kegler, would sit me on her lap and braid my hair. Then throughout the day, my classmates would play with my hair too, eventually making its way back into its usual ponytail, like how my mom prepared it.

The most prominent memory I have from that year, though, is a set of expectations. I’m an only child raised by an extremely hardworking, smart, independent single mother with the help of an incredibly caring grandmother and amazingly loyal aunt. My mom is a first-generation college graduate, who also holds a masters degree. She set the bar for me and I was expected to meet it. I took that as a challenge to exceed it.

Growing up, I played sports, liked to draw and paint. I designed my own shoes and shirts with puffy paint, and played saxophone in Jazz Band. I did a little bit of everything but one of my favorites was photography and film. I loved taking photos. One Christmas, my mom got me a Polaroid camera. I went through so much film. Frankly, I took some weird photos with that camera. Imagine a bunch of polaroids of table ends or rocks. That was me. That was 7-year-old Shannon’s work.

Now, without going too deep into every aspect of my life and how or why I chose a particular path, I majored in studio art and minored in media studies in college. Then I went straight through to graduate school, like expected, for my Masters of Arts in film and Masters of Science in strategic communications.

Most of my career so far has been me trying to balance this creative side with the expectations that I put on myself because of who I thought I should be. Most of my mentors, growing up and currently, work in corporate positions. My mother worked in corporate my whole life. I went straight through to graduate school thinking I wanted to be in corporate marketing but not really understanding how or where I would fit in the field.

Sometimes I think I’m too young to reflect back like this, but the reality is a lot of adulthood is unlearning and letting yourself develop into who you need to be versus who you should be. Three years ago, if you asked me what my short term and long term goals were, I’d have a 3-point answer for you filled with clear career objectives and tactics on how to get there.

Even though I’ve been confused about what I truly wanted for years, I didn’t let go of my personal expectations until late 2018. I had been so focused on “the plan” I created for myself that when the plan and the two contingencies fell apart, I was forced to think critically about who I really wanted to be. And last year, I spent 3 months living in France to get clarity around myself. This is what I learned…

Take your time. Whatever it is be it in school, in your career, in relationships, whatever, it’s perfectly okay to take your time. The expectation that we have on ourselves that we “should” be in a certain position by a certain age is bull.

I’ve spent a ton of time unpacking my story, my thoughts, and the steps that have brought me to this point in my life. I don’t have regrets about what I did or didn’t do because everything taught me something, but I recognize now that I wasn’t living for myself. Instead, I was living for a piece of paper. I was living for credentials that make me look better on paper. My focus was on the titles and not the journey.

The real reason I love photography so much is because it makes me stop and appreciate the now. It makes me take my time. When I travel, I still put in my earbuds and walk for hours in cities just taking photos. I capture people oblivious to my camera, but beautifully in the moment of their life. Time stands still for less than a second when my shutter opens and closes, but that little bit of time was captured.


The DIOP Circle V.31

February 9th, 2020


Shannon Jackson

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're presenting Shannon Jackson. She's our 1,292th customer and loves the Kerma, Nansi, and Amar patterns the most.

 

Do you remember your first day of school? What you wore? Your shoes or your pencil case? Do you remember your backpack?

 

I remember how my teacher, another black woman, loved playing with my hair in the morning. My mom would comb my hair into a ponytail and when I got to school, Ms. Kegler, would sit me on her lap and braid my hair. Then throughout the day, my classmates would play with my hair too, eventually making its way back into its usual ponytail, like how my mom prepared it.

The most prominent memory I have from that year, though, is a set of expectations. I’m an only child raised by an extremely hardworking, smart, independent single mother with the help of an incredibly caring grandmother and amazingly loyal aunt. My mom is a first-generation college graduate, who also holds a masters degree. She set the bar for me and I was expected to meet it. I took that as a challenge to exceed it.

Growing up, I played sports, liked to draw and paint. I designed my own shoes and shirts with puffy paint, and played saxophone in Jazz Band. I did a little bit of everything but one of my favorites was photography and film. I loved taking photos. One Christmas, my mom got me a Polaroid camera. I went through so much film. Frankly, I took some weird photos with that camera. Imagine a bunch of polaroids of table ends or rocks. That was me. That was 7-year-old Shannon’s work.

Now, without going too deep into every aspect of my life and how or why I chose a particular path, I majored in studio art and minored in media studies in college. Then I went straight through to graduate school, like expected, for my Masters of Arts in film and Masters of Science in strategic communications.

Most of my career so far has been me trying to balance this creative side with the expectations that I put on myself because of who I thought I should be. Most of my mentors, growing up and currently, work in corporate positions. My mother worked in corporate my whole life. I went straight through to graduate school thinking I wanted to be in corporate marketing but not really understanding how or where I would fit in the field.

Sometimes I think I’m too young to reflect back like this, but the reality is a lot of adulthood is unlearning and letting yourself develop into who you need to be versus who you should be. Three years ago, if you asked me what my short term and long term goals were, I’d have a 3-point answer for you filled with clear career objectives and tactics on how to get there.

Even though I’ve been confused about what I truly wanted for years, I didn’t let go of my personal expectations until late 2018. I had been so focused on “the plan” I created for myself that when the plan and the two contingencies fell apart, I was forced to think critically about who I really wanted to be. And last year, I spent 3 months living in France to get clarity around myself. This is what I learned…

Take your time. Whatever it is be it in school, in your career, in relationships, whatever, it’s perfectly okay to take your time. The expectation that we have on ourselves that we “should” be in a certain position by a certain age is bull.

I’ve spent a ton of time unpacking my story, my thoughts, and the steps that have brought me to this point in my life. I don’t have regrets about what I did or didn’t do because everything taught me something, but I recognize now that I wasn’t living for myself. Instead, I was living for a piece of paper. I was living for credentials that make me look better on paper. My focus was on the titles and not the journey.

The real reason I love photography so much is because it makes me stop and appreciate the now. It makes me take my time. When I travel, I still put in my earbuds and walk for hours in cities just taking photos. I capture people oblivious to my camera, but beautifully in the moment of their life. Time stands still for less than a second when my shutter opens and closes, but that little bit of time was captured.

Overall, it took me a little bit, but I think I’m finally stepping into myself. And my focus is to take the time to appreciate the now one photo at a time.


Shannon Jackson

Follow Shannon @shnjcksn

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


- Shannon Jackson


Follow Shannon @shnjcksn

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.