Written by Sarah Yoon
You run into a friend at the grocery store after months of rescheduled coffee dates. “I’m SOOO busy! I don’t have a life anymore,” she says, embarrassed. Her full-time job, constant art commissions, and night class keep her calendar full.
Since Starbucks is irrationally expensive, you sit at the park and watch the ducks waddle by. Your part-time job gives you ample time to pursue your craft, but too much time to compare yourself to others. Though your friend apologizes for her success and envies your creative freedom, you feel that too common phrase applies more directly to you. I don’t have a life.
No matter how great you’ve got it, life seems inadequate in comparison to others. You apologize for your free time, your packed schedule and even your successes. This self-deprecation is common and even socially encouraged, but it is a dangerous game. Comparisons drive discouragement and discontent. We all look at each other and think, they’re really living the dream. What on earth am I doing with myself? No matter what success or skills you have, your peers will somehow seem more fulfilled.
Find Your Stride
A lot of creatives have unusual schedules. Either you’re writing that novel in every non-work hour, or you’re painting in the afternoon and checking your Etsy stats every few minutes. If you want genuine contentment, refocus and stop comparing yourself to others. Granted, competition can be helpful and even inspiring, but habitually putting yourself down is unacceptable. You have a life, so live it at your own pace!
- Define success. Do you want a stable career, an active social life, a happy family, artistic recognition, or popularity? Those aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but focus on only two or three factors. If your definition of success is nebulous, you’ll never achieve it.
- Pinpoint goals to understand your workload. What content do you need to create? What networking should happen? Your work needn’t look like others’. Their goals determine their actions, and so should yours.
- Focus your time. If you’re always looking over your shoulder to see how productive others are, you’re most likely wasting your own time and distracting yourself from your own work.
- Ditch self-deprecation. Never say “I don’t have a life” and learn to enjoy each day at your own pace. Some can handle more stress, but busyness isn’t an ultimate good. You are unapologetically encouraged to smell the roses.
Interested in reading more? Rev up your creativity with Creative Exercises: The Inspiration Journal, or Seven Storytelling Lessons from the World of Harry Potter