A few years ago a peer and I were discussing working independently in a creative field. At that time he was still figuring out which direction he wanted to go and how to get to where he was going, but I knew I wanted to be and I would be a writer. I’d picked up a few freelance writing jobs at that time, but in 2015 when my mother was diagnosed with cancer I set the freelance aside to focus on being there for her and for my family.
During my hiatus from freelance my friend periodically checked in to see how I was doing with the writing work and I told him that it was on hold. Within a few months he stopped asking. Within a few more months his own career had taken off and he began writing inspirational blog posts about sticking to your passions, not giving up, and being dedicated to your craft and so on. While not directed at me in any way, there was a bit of sting because I felt he didn’t understand why I was so comfortable letting the writing go for a season while I cared for my dying mother.
Sadly, the friendship sort of stalled out there. No one did anything wrong, but his life and career went in one direction and mine went in another. While he was actively building his brand and an awesome, online community of creatives, I was burying my mom and dealing with grief. Our paths diverged; nothing more, nothing less.
I have never regretted taking a few years off actively pursuing freelance work because I knew I was right where I needed to be. In the two years I stepped away I watched a friend become the senior editor for a popular online publication, another launch a wildly successful photography business, and others still carve out their niche. They did these things while I laid in bed coming to terms with what cancer did to my family. It was their journey and this was mine.
Sometimes I was jealous, I have to admit. There were days when I was so overjoyed for their success, but also disappointed that they were able to pursue their dreams in ways I was not yet able to. I held tight however to the understanding that it wasn’t my time to blossom. While I very much wanted what they had, I knew with every fiber of my being that my time would come.
In January 2017, five months after my mother passed away, I launched my Instagram account and began writing about bereavement, beauty, and body positivity. By January 2018 I had close to 4000 followers on that account and just over 500 on my blog. I’ve been interviewed by a few amazingonline magazines and I’ve worked with over a dozen awesome brands. Additionally, I’ve started writing my book, a memoir mixed with fiction that deals with bereavement, loss, and family. All of these things happened at the right time in my life.
I knew then and I am even more sure now, that I am right where I am supposed to be. When little twinges of envy crop up, as they always do, I re-center and remind myself that I am on my own path, my own journey, and it isn’t going to look like anyone else’s and that’s okay.
Whether you’re working independently in a creative field or you’re climbing your career ladder in a more traditional environment, it will be so tempting to compare your growth and development to that of others. My partner works in a traditional career field and we see this frequently. In our mid-thirties we sometimes witness people in their twenties who have risen in “the ranks” faster than my partner has. Then there are others who are older than we are who have not yet reached the stage my partner is at. There are so many varied and nuanced reasons for this and ultimately what we find is the old adage rings true: “Comparision is the killer of contentment.”
We are where we are supposed to be. As long as you know you are doing your best, giving your best, and being your best, I hope you find comfort in knowing that your journey is unique to you and only you know what’s best for you. While living with grief in the wake of losing my mother, and two other family members between 2015 and 2017, has been the most difficult part of my life’s journey thus far, it has shaped me and formed me into the person I am and the person I am becoming.
I am where I’m supposed to be and you are too.