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0:00:32 – Speaker 1
More than cyber parenting conversations to connect. We have a special treat today. I’m so excited about the show. So, for those of you who don’t know, kim Nichols is on our team. She’s done several shows on our podcast. She’s a great person sex abuse survivor. She talks about that openly and she also is our event coordinator at nextTalk. She wears many hats and one of the roles as event coordinator is she and I travel a lot together so we go, do events and you know there’s lots of late nights in hotel rooms where we’re just talking and talking about our families and our children and our you know our marriages and I feel like I know her kids so well because of the stories we share and everything. But today we have her oldest on the show. Her name is Cameron Nichols. Thanks for being here, cameron. Yes, thanks for having me. I just tell the audience, like your age, a little bit about you, like what you love to do, that kind of stuff.
0:01:38 – Speaker 3
I’m 22 and I’m a photographer. That’s something that I discovered I had a love for back in high school and I did everything I could to get where I am now, and now it’s my full-time job and I would not ask for anything else. It’s so much fun and I love doing it.
0:01:54 – Speaker 1
So and follow her on social media. Cameron Nichols Photography. It’s so much hope. I love just looking at your pictures. They’re just a ray of sunshine in my newsfeed. I love it so much because you do a lot of like engagements and graduations and senior pictures. I just love it. Go follow her. She’s awesome.
But let me, before we get going and kind of interviewing Cameron as to why she’s here, I kind of want to set this up for y’all. So we are recording this. Cameron is a bride to be right now and we are getting ready to go to her wedding soon, so it has not happened yet. We are all really excited about this. I’m claiming it as our first nextTalk wedding and there’s a lot of reasons because it’s our first core team member whose kid’s getting married, so I feel like we can claim that right. Oh yeah, the other thing is there’s a cool little story. Before Kim met your husband-to-be’s mom, we were planning a nextTalk event and they were coordinating, and your future husband’s mom worked at this church and was coordinating and they had never met yet. So they like met through an email, coordinating a nextTalk event, and they connected the dots. Like wait a minute, I think our kids are dating.
0:03:10 – Speaker 2
Well, and Cameron, I don’t even know if you know this story that your future mother-in-law had asked me to pray for her son and this girl he was dating. This was a long time ago, before I ever knew it was you. So I had been praying for you and your husband-to-be because of a request from your future mother-in-law, and I didn’t even know it was you. So God, just like, connects these dots in ways that are incredible. That’s amazing. I had no idea about that. Yes, girl, I’ve been praying for you for a long time.
0:03:41 – Speaker 1
People have gone before you and prayed for this marriage before you even knew. So I’ve just kind of watched this unfold, this beautiful story of Cameron connecting and meeting her new husband-to-be, and I wanted her, in her own words, to kind of walk you through that because I think it’s so important. You know, as a mom of teenagers, I hear often, mom, the dating pool is awful in high school, like what is this? You know, and we talk about that, and I think Cameron’s story will give us a little bit of hope.
0:04:15 – Speaker 2
Honestly, yes, well, and as a mom of a little girl, a seven-year-old, I dream about and think about, like, what will it be like for my daughter, you know? Will the path be all the things that she and I imagine? And so Cameron’s story also reminds us that God always has a plan, and we may have this idea laid out in our mind and God may change that, because he’s always got something better, you know, he’s always got something better, and so submitting to his will is just key, and I love that part of your story, so I’m excited to jump in here. I want to start kind of. You mentioned a minute ago about finding your passion for photography in high school and that’s really cool. It’s great that you found that, but I bet there were some things that didn’t pan out the way you imagined in high school, like maybe the dating pool, like what was that like for you?
0:05:03 – Speaker 3
Absolutely Dating and everything. In high school. That seems to be all what anybody talks about and that seems to be one of the prime focuses, at least in all of the social circles. Everyone wants to know who you’re talking to, who you’re dating, who’s interested in who, and you get drawn into that and you kind of feel pressure to find somebody to be your boyfriend, be your girlfriend, and there’s just all this pressure from all of your friends and everything.
And if I will tell any high school teenager who will listen to me, it’s not worth it, because everyone in high school doesn’t have any experience dating and they’re still trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do and trying to add dating into the stress of classes and what are you going to do after you graduate?
And it’s just a giant headache that I wish I could go back and tell myself to just not even worry about it, because I had two relationships throughout high school and they were both extremely unhealthy and toxic and I ended up having a lot of baggage from those that I had to deal with years later. And it would have saved me so much time and effort and heart ache had I just focused on school and myself and what I wanted to do after I graduated. So not something that I wish I had done, but I learned a lot from for sure, and I have a lot to say, especially to my brother, who’s in high school right now and I hear all of his stories right now. I give him a lot of advice about do’s and the don’ts.
0:06:31 – Speaker 1
We had a counselor once who told one of our kids date your degree, like just focus on that for a minute and there’s always going to be time. But if there’s someone special that you meet in high school, it’s not that you can’t explore that, but don’t just do it because there’s pressure, like you’re saying. I love that advice.
0:06:51 – Speaker 3
Yes, and I’m not saying that it’s impossible to find anybody in high school. I actually have a couple of friends that they started dating our senior year and they’re not engaged and about to be married. So it definitely happens. It’s not as likely to happen. And again, if you’re just feeling like you, it’s something you have to do in high school, it’s not worth it, absolutely not. You should definitely focus on yourself and focus on just what you want to, what you want to do, who you are, who you want to be. And the world is so much bigger than high school and a lot of high schoolers don’t see that. I didn’t see it. I didn’t think that anything would be bigger outside of high school. I thought the friends that I had in high school would be the friends I had for the rest of my life and whoever I was dating in high school was going to be the person I was going to marry, and that was not the case at all.
0:07:38 – Speaker 2
It always feels so important in the moment and trying to convey that to your kids is so hard, and so I think it’s really important for us to grasp is that it does come back to teaching your kids discernment, listening for the Holy Spirit, listening for that still small voice like everybody’s doing this, but I feel like God’s telling me to do something else and being bold and brave enough to listen and kind of be different than the crowd, and that’s okay, which is a hard lesson in high school, yes, but that’s such good advice, kind of transitioning out of that high school and how hard it is College. Tell us about your journey going to college and finding your people and the party scene and all of that.
0:08:19 – Speaker 3
Well, I I mean like any high school kid, I grew up going elementary, middle school, high school, and everybody was like, where are you going to go to college? It’s like that was what you did. You graduated high school, you go to college. There was no other option. That’s just how it goes.
And I was kind of torn at the time between agri-science and agribusiness stuff, because I was at Madison, which is they have the ag program there and I was very interested in working with animals and I thought that that’s what I was going to do. And at the same time I had picked up this hobby with photography and I was really interested in that and I thought I was going to go to A&M and go and do all of the animal science stuff. And then I found out that Texas State had a photography degree program and I was like, well, you know what? I think I’m going to try that, because why not? And I could minor in agri-science and agribusiness and do both at the same time. That’s what I wanted to do. And so I was like, ok, that’s where I’m going to go, I’m going to go learn photography at the school. And I went there and the photography program was not at all what I was expecting. It was less about the business side and actually working with people and it was more like OK, here’s a theme, go take pictures to match the theme. Now let’s talk about what the pictures mean. And that was it. That’s what I did for two years at that program and I wasn’t getting anything out of it. And so I figured at least through the first year I would stay there and I would try to find some friends and try to just live the college experience.
And I went to so many different college group events. I went I think I tried a cruise I think is what it was called was the like college Christian organization and I went to their group things a few times but I was never able to find people that really fit me and they were all very into artsy, hippie stuff and that wasn’t who I was and I couldn’t find anyone that I had anything in common with. And outside of that group it seemed like everyone else at that school was just interested in partying on school nights and drinking all day long and smoking and sleeping with any warm body they could find, and that’s obviously not at all what I wanted to do and what the people I wanted to surround myself with, and I could not find those Christian people who had good values and wanted to do things other than all of the inappropriate stuff to have fun. And so I spent so many weekends in my dorm room by myself just alone, for an entire weekend, over and over and over again, because I just could not fit in anywhere.
And I was going home almost every weekend just out of pure loneliness, because I at least had my family and my siblings that I could talk to. So it was not the best experience for me and it wasn’t what I was thinking it would be. It’s not what anyone had painted the college experience to look like. That’s not what I was getting out of it, but at the same time I was like well, this is what I have to do, this is my only option. I didn’t think I had any other option.
0:11:30 – Speaker 1
I think your story is so great because I know other families who their kids are thriving at Texas State, at that particular college, but for some reason you weren’t meant to be there. It wasn’t for you and you couldn’t find the right people. You couldn’t find the right major, you couldn’t find the right classes, and so you were just struggling. I remember being on a road trip with your mom one time and we were doing an event. I can’t remember where it was, but she was telling me she’s struggling to find her people. She just can’t find that close knit circle. That’s a good influence for her. She was telling me about one time when you called home and she made a remark well, be the unicorn Meaning just be different.
You don’t have to do what everybody else is doing, and if you guys follow us on social media, you’ve seen that post be the unicorn about a kid going off to college and can’t find her people. Let me just connect the dots to you. This is Cameron. This is where that story comes from. So I thank you for letting us kind of use your experience, because I do think a lot of kids go off and they think this is just the path. This is what I do next. But then they’re not in the right space and so they can’t figure it out and they feel this weird where am I supposed to be, lord, like what am I doing here, kind of mentality, and I think that’s a really dangerous place, that we have to work through conversations with our parents about that.
0:12:56 – Speaker 3
Absolutely. And it’s funny, the unicorn story. My mom actually didn’t come up with that. That was actually people that I worked with at a school in San Marcos and they were all talking about, I want to say it was probably like a 420 kind of a thing, and so they were all sharing all of their experiences smoking and everything and I had said something how I had never done it before, never wanted to do it, had no interest in it and they were completely shocked and that’s where the unicorn thing came from. They were like no one Does that. You’re like a unicorn, that’s.
And it was meant as an insult and I told my mom about that because I was like they call me a unicorn. I don’t know why they did that. And she spun it around and was like be the unicorn, look at it from the positive side, like it’s okay that you’re different and that you don’t want to do all these things that they want to do and they expect everyone to do, and it’s okay. And that’s where it blew up from there. And now that’s like our slogan be the unicorn.
0:13:50 – Speaker 1
I love it. We’ve used it in our own home too, so I’m so glad that you guys shared that. And for our listeners who don’t know what 420 is, that’s we day, that’s April 20th, it’s like we day and it’s like a whole thing that once your kids get in middle school, they will know it and they will talk about it.
0:14:06 – Speaker 2
I think your story too. It just there’s a pattern here, like I’m hearing you talk about high school and there’s this expectation of what normal is quote, unquote normal and what everybody’s doing. And it’s so easy as kids, especially if they don’t have that safe place and that open communication with their parents, to feel like, well, this is what I’m supposed to do and I’m just going to do it, and they’re not having those conversations where a parent is saying it’s okay to be the unicorn, and then we transition into your story about college. Same thing Like there will be kids that do well in certain circumstances but that doesn’t mean it’s for you and that’s okay. And we need our parents, we need our safe place to say, hey, that’s okay, like it’s not for everyone. Let’s look at plan B, which is kind of where we’re at in your story now. So here you are, like trying to figure out who am I? What am I doing? Why am I not fitting in and finding my people? What was your plan B? What was your next step?
0:15:01 – Speaker 3
Well, I actually I didn’t have one at the time and I didn’t think that I had any other options. And it wasn’t until I had come home one weekend and I was just unloading on my parents about how miserable I was, how lonely I was, how I felt like I was wasting my time, and all of these classes that felt like they had no point. And they, I remember they kind of looked at each other for a second and then they were like why don’t you just come back, come back to San Antonio and just work on your business? And I remember being just like floored by that. I was like what, my parents are giving me permission to leave college? I was like I didn’t even think that that was okay. I didn’t think that that was an option that I had. And I knew in that moment God was speaking through my parents, because right in that second I was like that’s it, that’s what I’m supposed to do. And it was like a light went on in my head and I had. I was just filled with hope. I was like Okay, I have something else I can do, Another thing I can try. And that was just so fantastic. And my mom and I talked about it more and she was like Well, you know, you need to talk to God about this and pray about it. And of course I did, but in that moment I knew that that it that was.
The next path for me was to come back to San Antonio and work on my business, and that’s what I did.
I worked as a nanny for a while, just to get some income and just tried to find more clients to let me photograph them.
And then I ended up working for a photography studio for about a year and I got a little ton of experience working with them and I learned more of the business side of things and I also invested in photography business courses that were put on by other successful photographers around the nation, and so I was just getting all of this education within just a few months, and it was so much more than I had gotten out of my two years being a Texas state. So it was such an incredible opportunity to be able to come back and to know that it was okay and I wasn’t doing anything wrong and I wasn’t hurting myself by not getting a college degree, because I was pursuing the thing that I wanted to do, the thing that I knew I was good at and I could be successful at, and I could run a successful business for the rest of my life if I wanted to, and it just all worked out so well after that.
0:17:15 – Speaker 2
We want to talk about the after that. I just want to take a second because I feel like this is important for moms and dads to hear this moment, not so much from the child’s perspective but the parent. We a lot of times hold the expectations, we have the standards, we have the ideas of what we want or what we think our kids should be doing, and that is a hard moment for a mom and dad to sit back and listen to God’s prompting that may be different than what we thought it was going to be for our kid, and to give permission and also encouragement like, hey, it’s okay if God is calling you in a different direction, and not put on the world’s pressure and expectations and follow through, because people may be looking at us or judging us, but looking at your kid and saying, seeing them through God’s eyes, like this is what God has for you. Or let’s look at other options. I think that’s just an incredible example of parenting differently than by the world’s standards. Again, that same thing comes up for your story.
0:18:17 – Speaker 1
It’s a nextTalk, parenting principle. I mean, that’s what it is Listen to your kids, because God may be calling them to something that we didn’t plan or we didn’t foresee. And you know, I do want to also, kim, I’m so glad you brought that up because it’s such a great point here how her parents responded to all this and kind of gave her permission to listen to God. Maybe he has a plan B for your life and it’s not what we envisioned. But I also want to, just from the nextTalk perspective, I want to say we recently did a college show and on that show it was like prepping your kid for college, how to prepare you know all the AP, dual credit, all that stuff that you need to know.
And one of the things we said on that show is college is not the path. It’s a path, and I love Cameron’s story because she’s a perfect example of how she thought it was the path and then her parents said oh no, it’s just one option, honey, here’s some other things you could do. And I think that again, it just goes back to what Kim said. Sometimes they think it’s our expectation and they do it, but it’s not really benefiting them or they’re not really supposed to be there. They’re just doing it to check a box and we need to be careful with that, absolutely.
0:19:33 – Speaker 2
So, Cameron, kind of moving into the next phase of your story, you’ve had this light bulb moment with your parents and you’re getting this education and developing your business and rewinding back to the college part where you weren’t finding your people and you, you know, even back to the high school part, the dating. All of that plays into this story as well. So how did that piece change as you transitioned out of the traditional college setting?
0:19:57 – Speaker 3
Well, that was actually the scariest part for me because when I came back all of my friends from high school and people that I had even met in college they were still there. They were all spread out across the nation, going to different schools, and when I moved back to San Antonio I didn’t know anybody and it was like starting from square one and I had to kind of force myself to go out and just go meet people and do it on my own and that’s really, really intimidating and it was very hard to do. But I found out about Common Ground, which is the college age group youth group at CBC, and my mom was like hey, you should go and just try to meet people, meet people who are here in San Antonio and just try to make some friends. And I remember being so nervous that first time that I went because it was just walking into a space filled with people and not knowing a single one of them and just having to kind of stand there and hope that someone would come and talk to me.
And I went and I did that and met a lot of different people, but I was still having the same issue I was meeting all of these people but nothing was clicking, nothing was sitting and I was getting people’s phone numbers and they would tell me, oh, we should go out for coffee, and then I would never hear from them again.
And I was like, okay, well, that didn’t work out and I actually ended up getting kind of frustrated by it, because, I want to say, I was going for three or four months and I still was not getting plugged in to a specific group and every time I went it felt like I was starting over once more. And then I remember I want to say it was back in June, it was one of the last times that I had gone, june of 2019. It was one of the last times that I had gone and I had actually met a few people and I had started going with them over and over again and I was like, okay, I finally have a few people that I’m seeing every week and they know me and they recognize me and we’re hanging out outside of common ground.
And I was like, okay, I found my people. And then my family and I went on a vacation for about a week and came back in July and I went to the next common ground and none of those people that I had met were there and they were all done with common ground and they weren’t coming back. And I was like, oh my gosh, it’s over. Like I thought I had finally gotten plugged in and now I’m starting over once more. And I remember telling myself that that was it. I wasn’t going to go to common ground anymore. And I went through the service and there was a girl there who had found me and she was like, oh, you should come to the Chouis after. Like we’re all going to go out and eat. And I was like, no, I don’t think so. And she kind of just kept pushing it and I was like I’m a little hungry, okay, I’ll go. It was it. I was like I’ll have some chips in case. I was just going to say it was the case so case changes everything.
So I went and I was angry that whole night. I was frustrated, I felt like I had hadn’t gotten anywhere. And I showed up and then I was waiting for everyone to start and, of course, I was like one of the first ones there, because everyone wants to hang out with all their friends after the service and I didn’t have anybody to hang out with. So it was like I was waiting for all of those people to show up and this guy ended up coming up to me and he was like hey, do you want to sit with me and my friends? And I was like, okay, why not, I’ll give it a shot. And I sat with him and I met a bunch of the girls and guys that were, I guess, in his group and everything. And at the time, you know, I didn’t know that that was Derek, but that’s. He came up to me and he invited me over and I remember we continued to make eye contact throughout that whole evening and I was like this is kind of weird, like why am I looking at this guy? I don’t, I don’t understand. And I got plugged in with his friends and they continued to reach out to me and continue to invite me places and they ended up being the group that I started going to and the people that I started hanging out with. And now half of those people are in our bridal party and they’re friends I’ve had for the last couple of years.
And even with Derek being there, I remember that a few times after seeing him I was flirting with him and I was trying not to, but it was like it was coming out naturally and I kept telling myself no, boys, I’m only here for friends, I’m not here for friends, push that away.
And I was like this is not happening. And then we would be around each other and we’d be hanging out and it would just, it would just happen. And that was all God. He was like, yep, this is your person and you’re not getting around it, like this is who you’re supposed to be with. And it’s like all in one. I was able to find my friends, the community that I needed, who were all Christian people, who had fantastic values and wanted to go to six flags and go bowling, and that’s what they wanted to do for fun, and it wasn’t what I was used to people doing for fun. And then I met Derek throughout all of that and it was like everything had just fallen into place and all I needed to do was be patient and trust God.
0:24:59 – Speaker 1
Okay, I’m tearing up over here. I’m tearing up a little bit because I’m getting ready to go to your wedding and now I know like more details than even your mom had given me. And so now I’m like, yes, I can’t wait for this wedding, I cannot wait, I’m going to be crying the whole time.
My husband’s going to look at me and be like why are you crying? Please stop. It’s going to be that. Anyway, I love your story, cameron, because even when you were doing all the right things and trying to find your church people, it didn’t happen automatically and I think that’s a lesson for our teenagers.
Trying to find a youth group, trying to find people just because they’re Christian, they may not be your people or where God wants you. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people, it just means they’re not your people. How you constantly just made the effort, I think is incredible. Like that’s grit, that’s perseverance. You knew I got to get connected to a good group and I’m going to trust God that he’s going to take me to those people. I think that’s a very important lesson to learn. The other thing is, when you mentioned your future husband’s name, derek, one of the things your mom has told me so Cameron’s dad’s name is Derek, and Kim told me that when you were growing up and having all this trouble dating in high school, one of the things that she would say to you you’re going to find your Derek. She was like I literally didn’t mean a Derek, I didn’t like hypothetically, you’re going to find someone as great as your dad, you know, but we joke about oh, she took that very seriously, like she had to find a Derek.
0:26:29 – Speaker 2
I think it’s just very much what Mandy said. But what just rings through in your story is so much is in the waiting, you know, refinement of our character, refinement of our faith and trust that is built and so easy to give up in the waiting because it’s hard. It is not easy, but I so often feel God saying whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on, it’s coming, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And in those moments I myself, and I know my kids too, will struggle with that. We want to be like well, I’m just going to settle for this because I don’t want to wait. And the world says it’s okay to settle for this. And so it goes back again to that, keeping our focus on Jesus because it is in the waiting that he’s preparing us for something so much better. And look, you’ve got your people, you’ve got your husband and I just I love it and I love this story. I cannot wait for the wedding. Yes, me too.
0:27:26 – Speaker 3
It’s actually funny too, Derek. That same night that we met, he was going through a very similar situation. He was angry too. He didn’t want to be there, he wasn’t planning on going, just like I was, and he was having issues finding a job, and that was where his frustrations were coming from. And so he went to common ground with one of his friends and that friend was like okay, we’re going to go to chewy’s after. And he was like no, I don’t think so. I’m not hungry, I don’t want to. And his friend was like no, we should, we should go meet people and we should go and do this. And he was like okay, fine.
So it was like we were both angry, we both didn’t want to go, but we were like, okay, people are telling us to go, we’ll go. And we met each other. And it was just crazy that we were both in that same boat of we’re tired of the waiting and we don’t want to trust God. But in the end we’re like, okay, we’ll trust God anyways. And look what came out of that. It’s just crazy.
0:28:20 – Speaker 1
I love it. I think it brings so much hope to those kids, those teenagers who may be listening, that are like am I ever going to find my people, or am I ever going to find the one, that that God has for me? And so I love your story. I know you’re busy planning the wedding. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us and share. I do believe it’s going to help so many kids. You probably don’t know this, but just a couple weeks ago I was texted from a mom whose kid wanted to go to that same college ministry because she’s moved back to San Antonio and doesn’t know anyone. She went ahead and finished her college degree but she’s back here working now and she was like she doesn’t want to go, she doesn’t know anyone. And I said, hey, Cameron was there too, and now she’s getting married to the love of her life. So tell your daughter put one foot forward and just make the effort. It may not happen right away, but she’s just being persistent in trying to find her people and God will honor that.
0:29:15 – Speaker 2
Amen, absolutely. Thank you, cameron. We appreciate your time and your story and your vulnerability. I know that it will bless people, and happy wedding to you. We can’t wait to be there.
Transcribed by https://podium.page