“Trying to follow another person’s path is a sure way of getting lost.” —Andrea Barilla
These past few weeks I have lost my appreciation of the simple things. My usual way of handling stress, of handling overwhelm has been to pull out my Sarah Ban Breathnach books and read an entry on gratefulness, on restoring order from chaos. Then, I will tidy my space—put away the dishes, dust the bookshelves, gather the magazines from around the apartment and put like with like. Simple things. Restoring physical order to my space not only rights the external, it also allows my mind to reflect on those things I am grateful for and then the people I am grateful for (because, honestly, most of the things I own, the things that can fit in my little studio apartment are meaningful and were given to me by people I love). The tangible putting away of an item, of sorting the magazines, brings peace.
Our minds need rest. They need a clearing in which to play.
So often as individuals running our own businesses (and as those who don’t have families nearby), we find that work consumes our every moment just about. If you’re anything like me, perhaps you use work to fill those empty spaces, those empty moments. You use it to fill the heart spaces until you realize your love tank is empty. That your mind is tired. That you’ve forgotten those simple things that bring you joy.
Another thing that can rob us of joy is comparison. These past few weeks I lost track of what makes “me” happy, of how much “I” have grown. As a freelancer, it can take a few years to find those things that really make us tick—our niches, our specialties. And once we find those things, oh wow. That is really something. Freelancing, despite what many believe, doesn’t have to involve bouncing around like a pinball in a pinball machine. Find those few things you are good at, make some happy customers, and you are on your way. (But, yes, it can take time to find those things, so be kind to yourself on the journey…)
Too, finding one’s specialties doesn’t mean one suddenly earns six figures or gets a book deal off the bat. And this is okay. I recently spoke with a freelancing friend who is a great encourager, but we are different. Our paths and specialties are different. And he is making more. I don’t advise talking salaries with people in your field. It is BAD. Not a healthy thing to do. In this case, it just kind of came out. There were no bad intentions. Well, I left feeling like a failure, like I wanted to SINK INTO THE FLOOR. I felt insecure about my income, insecure that I wasn’t doing enough, insecure that I wasn’t charging enough. That I was a failure as a freelancer. That I was a LOSER.
Whoa whoa WHOA.
“Back up girl,” I should have told myself.
Instead, I’ve spent the last few weeks fighting paralysis when I should be crazy excited that I have found my focuses, my specialties, the things that make me tick, the subjects that I can speak upon with authority.
But no, I have sunk into the persona of loser freelancer girl, which is farthest from the truth.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
The fact is, books are my THING. After four-plus years of doing everything under the sun (but mostly spending ten hours a day finding the most minuscule of errors in documents), I am attracting the clients and the jobs I have always wanted. In just under a month, I have been in discussions with four authors whose works all intrigue me and have potential. I am ghostwriting a book. I am embarking upon social media promotions for authors, an avenue that excites me almost as much as the writing and editing portions. My ghostwriting client wants my help with marketing his works and to collaborate on another book in the future.
Stuff is HAPPENING.
Last summer, when my old jobs started shifting due to staff changes and illnesses, I sensed a shift back toward writing, that I just had to HOLD ON and trust day by day that something was happening here. I just knew. I instinctively knew that this shift was a positive thing despite the lack of income. And my faith in God’s provision sustained me.
And sure enough, He hasn’t let me down. He has provided manna.
And, though, yes, I am still living in trust, this is okay with me. I am growing at a pace that fits me. Like Donna Tartt who takes years to write her books, I like to get good at a few things before taking on more. I did this with copy editing, taking on more and more until I was working with some prestigious clients. This works for me. This is my way. (Caveat: This does not mean I don’t push myself at times or take on an assignment that terrifies me a bit. The calculated risk is essential for the entrepreneur. We can’t grow complacent.)
But my way of growing my business, of growing my skills works for me. And I trust in it.
And it is okay.
It is okay to follow your own path of peace and success.
It is okay to take a few hours to clean your apartment because it brings you peace.
It is okay to cry sometimes.
It is okay to not be perfect all the time; but most importantly, it is okay to realize YOU ARE DOING WELL.
Think back on how YOU have grown. Use YOURSELF as your measuring stick. And yes, do try to build a schedule that allows for people time, for those things that bring your mind rest.
We are not meant to work 24/7. We are meant for more than work.
And oh, it can be fun when you pause and appreciate what “you” have done, what “you” have.
Enjoy the sights on your own path…