I love my little corner of the internet. I love the people who gather here and the stories we tell. I love my readers and I love writing, even if there was nobody reading at all.
But every once in awhile my eyes wander to a platform similar to mine, and I find myself checking them out to see how I measure up.
How in the WORLD does that person have 5,000 twitter followers? What are they doing right?
How does one grow something successful? What does it take to make an impact?
I look at the people I want to be like and wonder how old they are. I want a measuring stick to figure out if I’m behind, or ahead, or (miracle of miracles) right where I should be.
And all of a sudden, under the shadow of comparison, The Lipstick Gospel feels like a shack plopped pathetically in the middle of Beverly Hills.
I’ve been feeling like that a lot recently.
My heart feels divided in this season of my life. On one hand, I want to sprint forward. I want my book to be done now, I want to start something new, try something crazy, work extra late.
And on the other hand I know that there are important things to be done in this season that have nothing to do with writing.
Carl and I are engaged, and we need to be planning our wedding, and even more importantly, our life as we mix ours together.
So part of me says rest, and the other part says run, and I end up caught in the middle feeling like I’m not really doing either quite well.
And in all of this, there’s one piece of advice that’s been standing out above the rest. There’s one thing that comforts me when I feel like I’m failing or falling behind, or like I should be doing more.
“Give yourself 10 years.”
I had the privilege of going to the Storyline Conference in Nashville last October. I sat in the front row, scribbling frantically, as Donald Miller spoke to a small group of writers.
And when someone in the audience expressed a feeling like the one that’s rolling over deep in my soul these days, this is what he said.
“Give yourself 10 years.”
He explained that we want things to happen quickly. We want success right away. We want our words to be read and seen and recognized. And we look at the people around us and wonder why our dreams are taking so long to bloom.
But he said that it takes 10 years to grow something good. It takes 10 years to build something worth standing on.
Maybe it takes even longer because even with thousands of readers, I doubt anyone ever feels like they’ve arrived.
But his point was this: give yourself time.
Giving ourselves time is the antidote to comparison and impatience. It’s the counter-curse to “why isn’t this happening faster”, and “am I right on track?”
It’s the thing that helps us slow down and remember that wherever we are is totally fine, and that we have lots and lots of time to grow.
And the other part of his advice was this: fall in love with the process.
Jeff Goins says this all the time: if you’re writing or painting or singing or working for the accolades, you’re going to end up sorely disappointed.
There will always be someone better, or more popular, or smarter, or more successful than us. A measuring stick will only show us how we come up short.
But if we fall in love with the words on the page, and the rush in our souls as we draw them forth and out, then we’ve made it. If we’ve fallen in love with the craft and not the result then it doesn’t matter how long it takes us to make it, or if we ever even get there.
That’s the truth about good art. It’s made out of abundance and joy, not out of a desire for approval.
The best things were never created for people to love. They were created out of love, and shared with people as the cherry on top.
And that’s the way I love to write—the way that I want to live.
And so in those moments when comparison gets the best of me and I start to peek over the fence at someone else’s garden, I have to remind myself of those two things.
- Give yourself 10 years
- Fall in love with the process.
Then my little corner of the internet starts to feel like home again, and my heart begins to feel peaceful.
All of a sudden I feel ok, whether I’m planning for my future with Carl, or pounding away at my keys in a flash of inspiration.
It’s ok, because I have time, and because I love the process, whatever it looks like that day.
Have you ever felt small in comparison to someone else? Have you ever felt impatient for your dream to grow?