Learning along the way
Becky Brockie on finding her dream job in Big Sky
Becky Brockie has shot many weddings in her time as a photographer in the area, but people may not have noticed her. Her goal was always to not be noticed – to function as an observer, the camera serving as a buffer between her shyness and the rest of the world. She describes herself as a very good wallflower.
“I’m extremely introverted, which is always tough in a society that values extroversion. I didn’t want to be the center of attention,” she said.
The oldest of five kids, she said her siblings are also introverted, although some of them are better at faking extraversion than others.
“It’s hard to stand out in a society that is so loud, when you’re quiet,” she said.
She was born and raised in Montana and was anxious to escape and see another part of the country. Responsible from an early age, her mom claims that she started planning for college in grade school.
“I’ve always been really independent. The first time I went to summer camp was in second grade, she said I was bawling and she felt so guilty, but when she realized I was crying because I was so sad to come home, I think she was pretty disappointed,” she said.
Her move to Seattle for college was a move for independence more than anything else. She wanted to explore. After university, she ventured to southern California to make good use of her teaching credentials. She taught Romeo and Juliet for five hours a day and for so many days that she had every single world memorized. Making a difference and molding young minds made her feel a sense of importance, but the monotony drained her. She had to do something else. Upon her return to Montana, she taught for one more year and then shifted gears. She attempted to sell insurance. Again, that same boredom crept in. She worked retail as a way to get to know people in the community. The social aspects were rewarding and she knows a lot of people now, but she did not feel she was making a difference. She questions the point of things when she is not doing something meaningful – that is what made her choose teaching as a career path to begin with. She believes this is due to her religious background. Although her religious beliefs have changed, those values have stayed the same.
“I guess most of my 30s were me stumbling around trying to figure that out. I just stumbled into photography because I got a camera as a gift for Christmas in 2009. I picked it up and realized I didn’t know how to use the thing,” she said. So, she attended Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula for five months and then launched her own photography business. She has been in the business for 10 years now.
“I like that it allows you to be an observer. I like that you can manipulate the story you are telling with your pictures almost by what you choose to include and exclude. I like that unlike video, with photography you are freezing a moment in time and I guess why I liked weddings the most is eventually people would forget about me at the wedding,” she said. She could show people being their true selves, not altering their behavior. Still, she felt drawn to something more.
The built-in feeling of contribution she felt when she was teaching was not there.
“I missed feeling valuable and important and you automatically feel that way as a teacher. I always feel more fulfilled when I feel that I’m doing something that matters,” she said.
She saw a job posting by Big Sky Community Housing Trust (BSCHT) for an operations assistant position, applied and met with BSCHT Program Director Laura Seyfang. She knew it was important work.
“I knew I would be incredibly disappointed if I didn’t get it. Because I worked retail, I heard all of these terrible stories of housing issues, I could see the problem developing around me. I was excited about a job where I could do something important instead of just selling things,” she said.
She is not bored and does not think she ever will be with her job. She also observed that all the things she did before helped prepare her for this.
“It feels important. It’s exciting to be part of something that is just getting started but will have life as long as Big Sky exists. I really hope it’s my last job. That would be awesome,” she said. “I think it’s a better fit for me than teaching because there’s more stimulation. I think there will be enough changes to where I won't feel like my life is on repeat.”