Comparing my writing journey to successful, full-time bloggers is something I did frequently when I first started writing for work. I couldn’t help but look around and look at authors who were the same age or younger than me who were so much further along on their path to success.
But here I was, barely starting off, and I felt like I had lost before the game even began. It was like I was working to achieve the impossible — and catch up to someone who had a multi-year head start.
Only now do I realize, if our goals revolve around playing catch up to someone else’s accomplishments, we have some reevaluating to do.
This applies to everything and everyone, not just writers. We can look around in any field, with any group of people, and we will always see someone who has more than us. A better job, a nicer home, or in an ideal writer’s case, a huge online following.
The hardest part is that the solution comes from within, meaning we have to do the work ourselves. We have to get in the habit of appreciating, congratulating, loving ourselves and stop looking at everyone else’s achievements if we’re only using them to support the idea that we don’t measure up to them.
Because when you compare yourself to others, you’re likely comparing your Day one to their Day 538, and that math will never add up.
I Was Comparing Myself to Others Before Even Becoming a Writer
After I finished my master’s degree in developmental psychology, I hated my job and hated my decision to go to grad school for something I wasn’t passionate about. I started, for the first time in my life, hating where I was.
I looked around at everyone else I went to school with, and it looked like they had it all figured out. They were in a job they loved; they were having kids with their long-term partners, and I was wondering what was wrong with me.
Why didn’t I have it figured out like everyone else?
In reality, there was nothing wrong with me. I was just on my journey towards finding myself, and yes it took a little longer than others, but it was my own.
My problem was that I spent so much time worrying about what others were doing, and what others were capable of, that I left very little time for me to think about what I was doing to make things happen for me.
Everybody is Fighting Their Own Demons
This era that we live in, it is the time of sharing only our best selves on social media. This can take partial blame for how we are constantly bombarded with images of perfection — and how we wonder why our lives don’t look like someone else’s.
But in reality, everyone is fighting their own demons. Nobody’s life is perfect…that’s one you’ve never heard before, right? Yes, it’s an overused piece of advice found in every self-help article you can find. And yes, we hear it often, and still, it’s so hard for us to believe.
Just because someone is on a path you wish to be on, that doesn’t make your journey any less special.
You haven’t been on the other side; you don’t know the challenges that others have had to overcome. I guarantee the journey of the person you’re admiring was far from effortless.
Everyone who finds ultimate happiness and success has had their share of disappointments and heartbreaks. Trust me.
I used to envy the hobbies that others had because I felt like I didn’t really have anything that I was passionate enough about to turn into a career. I would think, “Wow, that must be so nice to be that good at something.”
And now, I’m making a living from being a writer — I hobby I’ve long had a passion for. Funny, isn’t it?
I’ve never been happier and honestly, I’ve never felt so excited about life as I do now. I feel like my world is slowly coming together. Writing has been in front of my eyes this whole time. As I was panicking about not loving my job, I wrote. As I suffered through two arduous courses of Accutane to battle adult acne, I wrote.
I wrote song lyrics and poems when I went through breakups and now, constant love letters because I am so deeply in love it scares me to know love this unconditional and powerful.
But I have to wonder, would I feel this excitement and passion for this happiness of mine if I had not failed at those other career paths? I don’t believe so.
It was all part of my process. I went to school, then went back to school, changed career paths, made a plan to move to Thailand to teach English at a school, began working with animals because of my love for them, and then quit that job to start freelance writing.
My trials were non-stop, but I learned from all of them.
So I ask you, how are you going to reach your happy ending without having a journey filled with opportunities for learning and growth?
We have to believe in the journey, believe in the struggle, believe in ourselves. Believing in yourself and your right to happiness is easier said than done and it’s so cliche. I know this. But it’s a piece of advice that will always work in your favor.
I assure you that so much weight will be lifted off your shoulders the moment you stop imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes. When I need to remind myself, I simply say:
You will never find true happiness when you try to make your path look like someone else’s.
Would it taste this good if I didn’t mess up the recipe a million times before I finally got it right and baked the perfect cake? I don’t think so.
I struggled for years, constantly comparing myself to everyone else, and now, I can finally appreciate the hard work it took to bake this cake I call my writing career. I can taste it now, a dash of imperfection, a couple of sprinkles of trial and error, and a full cup of courage.
Jessica Mendez is a full-time writer living in Las Vegas, NV. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from NAU and her master’s degree in family and human development from ASU. In 2018, she left her career in mental health to pursue a career in writing. She is currently working on her debut novel and a collection of bilingual poetry. Follow her on Twitter and Medium to read more of her work.
Image courtesy of Kev Costello.