After struggling to conceive for 1.5 years without success, Georja came to terms with the fact that she needed to consult a doctor. Despite being in her mid-twenties, the path to pregnancy was not as smooth as she had hoped. The first signs that something was amiss emerged in the form of painful periods, excruciating pain, frequent work absences, and severe bloating. In September 2018, Georja received a diagnosis of an underactive thyroid, and just over a year later, in 2019, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Endometriosis. Finally, some answers were within reach.
Her declining health began to take a toll on her professional and personal life. A diminished sex drive, periods of isolation from friends, body image concerns, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, aches, and skin issues made it increasingly challenging to balance her career in real estate with her health conditions. At this juncture, Georja found herself pondering, “What should I do with my life now?”
Endometriosis is a formidable adversary. It may not manifest visibly on the outside, but internally, it can leave you feeling utterly helpless. Georja recalls a day at work when the pain started to intensify, saying, “I had two hours left in my shift and asked to leave because I could feel the severity of the situation. However, I was told to tough it out, and I couldn’t leave even though I was already pale as a ghost and barely functional. I remember driving home as quickly as possible, enduring sharp, knife-like pains in my back and uterus.”
This incident marked a pivotal moment in her life, prompting her to realise that her well-being was more important than continuing in a job she no longer enjoyed.
When it came to trying for a baby and facing a string of negative pregnancy tests, the emotional toll was immense and difficult to overcome. Georja confesses, “You start questioning yourself incessantly. Are we trying hard enough? Am I eating the right things? How many more tests must I endure? Will I ever get the chance to become a mother? I was told that IVF was my only option, and even that might not succeed. The longer my partner and I were together, the more we heard questions like, ‘When will it happen?’ and ‘Maybe it’s just not your time yet.’ The pressure was mounting, and there was nothing more painful than hearing these words from family and friends.”
Following her disheartening diagnosis and the suggestion of IVF, Georja embarked on a quest to explore alternative options, including dietary changes, acupuncture, fitness, and yoga. However, she realised that implementing all these changes simultaneously was overwhelming. Thus, she decided to break down her tasks to alleviate stress. Her first step? A career shift.
The focus shifted away from conceiving a baby to distressing her body. This led Georja to take a leap of faith, leaving the world of real estate behind and launching her first business—a pet accessory venture. She promoted her products by photographing other people’s pets wearing them. Georja found immense joy in working with both pets and their owners, channelling her creativity into action. She shares, “I wanted to photograph clients’ pets wearing my products for branding, using an old Nikon camera from school. This sparked increased engagement and inquiries for pet photography. Being a pet owner myself, I saw this as an opportunity and pursued it as an add-on for my business. However, I soon realised that I was diluting my brand’s SEO and confusing my social media presence. So, I decided to focus solely on pet photography, establishing it as ‘Little Memories Photography.’ At one point, I accidentally dropped my camera, forcing me to upgrade instantly because I had Christmas mini-sessions scheduled for the next day. It dawned on me that I no longer wanted to create pet accessories by hand but to hone my photography skills. Interestingly, my parents had always believed I would become a photographer when I was in school. Perhaps that was my calling all along, but I didn’t see it until life changes and imbalances forced me to reconsider.”
Starting her journey as a pet photographer eventually led Georja to expand her repertoire, capturing not only pets but also newborns, families, and most recently, weddings. With the foray into wedding photography came the introduction of her latest business addition, ‘Valerie,’ named in loving memory of her grandmother. Valerie is a vintage bohemian caravan, brimming with whimsical props and equipped with an iPad for capturing the delightful selfies of clients and their guests. Valerie’s versatility extends beyond weddings to include various other fun events like corporate parties, baby showers, birthdays, engagements, and branding launch parties.
Embarking on this new business venture helped Georja strike a better work-life balance, especially concerning her health. Nevertheless, it also presented its share of challenges—common hurdles faced by all business owners, including imposter syndrome and online bullying from competitors or trolls. Despite these obstacles, Georja remained resolute in her chosen path, primarily because the benefits of her health far outweighed the alternative of working for someone else. Now, she had the autonomy to work on her own terms, allowing her to accommodate her health conditions into her schedule. Georja reflects, “Overall, I’ve witnessed a marked improvement in my mental health. I no longer fear losing my job for needing rest, and I don’t worry about what tomorrow will bring. As a photographer, it warms my heart to witness the smiles on people’s faces after a session or hear how much they cherish their photo galleries. It’s the positive aspects of this career choice that keep me grounded. Although I still experience significant discomfort, nausea, chronic fatigue, and insomnia, I find it more manageable when I’m at home, not working a gruelling 8 to 12 hours straight for someone else. The stress used to intensify my pain to a greater extent.”
As Georja navigates life’s challenges, she’s found a comfortable balance between prioritising her health and nurturing her thriving business. Right now, she’s chosen to focus on herself and has temporarily set aside her dream of starting a family.
She owes much of her strength to her incredibly supportive partner, who shares her belief in this journey. Their unwavering solidarity is a testament to the power of love and understanding in all that they face together.
Georja invites you to join her as she continues her journey of resilience and self-discovery. You can keep up with her inspiring work through her website and follow her on Instagram. There, you’ll witness the beautiful moments she captures and the empowering journey she shares. In Georja’s story, there’s a simple message of hope and determination, reminding us all that with courage and resilience, we can overcome life’s toughest challenges. She welcomes those who are struggling with either of her health conditions to reach out. In supporting one another through the journey, you can feel more empowered and uplifted, and know that better days are ahead.