I think I’ve lived most of my life trying to emulate those around me, trying to fit in. I was never like the kids around me. I was tall as a kid, one of the only non-white kids in my elementary school, and I was always a bit overweight. I used to dream of being one of the popular girls, being thin and pretty like they were, but it never happened. I remember being friends with those girls, not in a constant way, but there were stretches in time, here and there, when the popular girls would get into fights with their closer friends and would attach themselves to me. I existed on the outer edges of that group I so desperately longed to be part of, but I was too weird, too different, to fully be part of it.
I started thinking about this the other day when I was scrolling through the “People You May Know” section on LinkedIn. I saw several faces of people I knew or knew of in college. I’ve often found myself as someone who is “less than” in comparison to these people, but as I read through their job titles I felt a different emotion. Many of my former classmates are now working for giant corporations and flout titles like “project manager,” “junior analyst,” and “MBA” or “Medical School” student. Granted, all of these things seem more important, more impressive, or simply better than “Office Services Associate,” but as I thought about it I realized something, something eye-opening.
None of the titles, or at least the majority of them, sound like anything I am remotely interested in.
I know this doesn’t seem like a terribly illuminating thought, but it was for me. Why had I spent the last five years of my life feeling sad and pitiful over jobs that I didn’t want, jobs I would never want, or schooling that I hadn’t been interested in since I was a small child? Obviously this is my own fault, but it seems incredibly unfair and honestly kind of stupid to continue to feel like a piece of trash in comparison. I never really fit in while I was in college, so why would I want to fit in with those people now, especially when it comes to something like a job title? I want much different things than making a huge salary in the corporate world or being in charge of a team of people who probably hate their jobs as much as I hate mine.
And that’s something I need to be okay with.
This cycle of comparison has been engulfingly detrimental to my emotional and mental health and that seems so crazy to me. Crazy to me in the sense that I’ve spent so much time and energy on how I compare to people who are so different than me.
This realization energized me to my core. It made me feel more comfortable in my own skin, which is HUGE for me. It’s okay that I want to spend my life creating art and writing novels and blog posts and call it a career. Sure, I don’t make money from it now, but action, or inaction, rather, plays a huge role in that. My history of comparison has been draining, draining to a point that after spending my day feeling sad and pathetic because I’m not as good as the people around me that I don’t have the energy in my free time to do the things that I love, the things that I want to do forever.
So I think it goes to say that this realization was more of an epiphany. Something that I knew about myself came to the forefront of my mind. I am a writer and I am an artist, which are two titles that I’ve never been comfortable placing upon myself. I have the imagination and skill set to make my mark on the world, I just have to DO. Chicago is a huge city, full of amazing artists and venues to show art in; and the existence of the internet makes it easy to share my writing and ideas with the world at large, but I can’t do any of that if I don’t create paintings for show or put pen to paper. My inaction has been standing in my way, and it has nothing to do with me not being good enough.
I am good enough, talented enough, original enough to matter and to pay attention to. Mine will be a name that people remember. This was something I used to think about all the time but somewhere that sentiment was lost in the daily drabble of adult life. No longer.
So stay tuned, because I have a lot more to share and I hope you’re out there to listen. I know I’m not alone in these feelings and maybe my journey and my realizations can help some of you, maybe many of you, realize your own potential and recognize that your dreams are important. I know that I will never be happy if I don’t make the time and emit the energy to do the things I want, the things I love, the things that fill my heart with fire and passion. And I want to be happy, and I can be as long as I take the time to take action. Watching Netflix and daydreaming isn’t going to make anything just fall into place. I have to push, and push hard, because I know that being an artist and a writer are not easy ways to make a living. However, I can’t let the possibility of difficulty and struggle stand in my way, because the validation of success, reaching the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, is part of the journey, it’s so worth it, and this is just step one.
Thanks for reading.