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The Secret To Perfecting Your Craft When You're Young

I may not be the best photographer in the world, but my level of success is measured on how content I am with my life.

It was my sophomore year of high school. I was sitting in class, gradually getting tired of every 15 minutes spent writing my name on the upper-left corner of each paper that was forced in front of me. The pace was so slow in those rooms and the only thing that changed was the day of the week. Luckily, now a little over a year later, I am sitting in Los Angeles writing this piece for MTV Voices.

I wasn’t born with a “gift,” nor was I locked in a room every day being pressured into some hobby. All I had was freedom to find what really inspired me, which led me to this passion and an eagerness to experience what's beyond the suffocating barriers of a small town in North Carolina.

To this day, the idea of creation still baffles me -- how I can think of something in my head and choose to make it come to life like a superhero. It is something we dream of doing -- making what you want real. After some time of identifying my true passion, I found that my medium is photography. There are people I meet and experiences I have that need to be photographed, and that is my chance to freeze time. I found the superpower or “gift” that I used to run around my backyard pretending I'd already obtained. This time, I’m wearing ripped jeans and a leather jacket instead of a cape, and I couldn’t be happier.

Youth is such an important time to find your craft and do all you can to perfect it. Unfortunately, not everyone has allowed themselves to find it. Of course, there are many factors that can deter someone from doing so. But here's what I've learned: Don’t keep following people down this “path of life." If you want to feel fulfillment, you have to get lost, take the wrong turn, and maybe even take a couple of laps. You can’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. If you are influenced to discover your passion by someone else, then it wouldn’t truly be yours.

Now that you have it, ride it. Get back on the path of life everyone else is on, but this time, you aren’t walking -- you have your own customized set of wheels. Make sure to cherish it and never take it for granted. I realized that taking photos is something I’ll do for the rest of my life because every waking hour I am dedicating myself to this craft. Though I am not in a classroom, I am still learning. I still have teachers, but they don’t have a slip of paper that allows them to tell me how to think indefinitely and they don’t require me to write my name daily in the upper-left corner. The Uber driver that takes me to work teaches me. My friends teach me. My parents teach me, and even the people that told me I would never make it teach me.

Once you learn to make the world your classroom, then you will gain the knowledge you need to perfect your craft. Perfection is never reached, but the quest for it is an ongoing adventure of love, hate, and fear.

Fear is your friend, though. Those moments where your heart is beating so hard against your chest that it feels like it’ll rip out and slap you in the face are just a reminder that you’re still alive. We all need fear to fuel us with the adrenaline needed to jump over any obstacles we face.

I found my passion and I have controlled my fear -- that is how I master my craft. I may not be the best photographer in the world, but my level of success is measured on how content I am with my life.

There are three things that need to be learned in order to use a camera. The first is aperture, which controls how much light is let into your lens. The second is shutter speed, which controls how long the sensor is exposed to light, and the third is ISO, which controls the sensitivity to light. If a digital camera can have this much power to let light in, then so can a human. You control how much positive light is coming into your life and you choose how long it stays there for. It's your choice how you decide to let that light affect you.

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VMAs 2017