For the past 7 years, I have called San Diego home. The eternal summer fit me well, like a worn pair of jeans or a soft white-T, a little faded and frayed but comfortable. Safe.
I buried my heart in the sand and vowed to stay a while.
San Diego taught me to breathe. To slow down. To stay calm, even when traffic built up on the 5 and my plate piled high and I didn’t know where my next paycheck was coming from.
When life got crazy, all I had to do was look up and catch a glimpse of the Pacific on the horizon and watch a surfer carve his name down the face of a wave and turn my face toward the warm sun. I was ok. I was home.
And then I started feeling restless. Was it my relationship? Was it my job? My daily pace of life? Or was it me?
I started to travel and to explore, to pack a bag every other weekend and jet or drive off to somewhere new. It was never too far but far enough, a little escape from the suffocation of a dream job gone wrong and a fight to discover what was next, seeking salvation for an anxious heart.
I wasn’t expecting what was to come from that one weekend trip to SF in September.
So much of my 20’s has been marked by looking forward, by planning and building for the future: who I want to be. Where I want to be. What career path I want to take. And for so long, I have felt pretty solid in who I am and who I’m growing to become.
The general framework has been there: Avery, writer, the oldest sister, leader, daughter, conservative, dreamer. Believer.
But lately, things are shifting. The definition is changing.
Sure, it is me and me to the core. But I’m finally allowing myself to be some of the things I never thought I was or could be. To accept some of the facets of my identity I’ve withheld from attaching to my definition of myself.
Foregoing safe for brave. Too pensive for joyful. A familiar town for a new city. Cotton for leather. Incomplete for whole.
Yes, you, right there on the other side of the screen. Stop looking behind you, next to you, across the room, because I am here, and I am talking to YOU.
Glad we have that settled.
You see, sometimes when we are given encouraging words and compliments and brilliant affirmations we shake them off with our coats and let them fall to the floor, never quite believing they are intended for ourselves. Who, me? Little ol’ me? Yes you.
Just hear me out.
My heart used to speed up a bit when teachers passed back tests.
They would stroll down the aisle of students, dropping papers face-down on our desks. I would take a small, private peek, turning the corner up just enough to spot the letter red-penned on the top. Cue the wide smile for anything above a B+, or sinking pit opening in my stomach for anything below.
Grades were a funny thing- we used them to measure ourselves against others in class and in school. Were we going places? Or merely left behind? In college we worked so hard (or hardly at all) for those A’s, B’s, and you know the rest. We chased 4.0s and high scores and placement on the right side of the curve.
It was simple in a way: seek the A for approval. A for you made it.
A for you’re worthy.
But then we graduated, and that all changed. So, my question for you is this:
Where do you seek approval?
There comes a time in our individual pursuits of career success where we learn an essential lesson: how to work well with others so we may both succeed.
How do we set aside our jealousy to encourage a friend or fellow creative in his or her wins while we ourselves are struggling to find our footing?How do we humble ourselves to champion those who need it while celebrating our own success?
Today I am unpacking collaboration vs. competition on The Yellow Blog. Give it a read and leave feeling inspired to lock the Green Eyed Monster away for a while.
In my misguided race to claim my idea and establish my worth as a creative, I lost the essential component of entrepreneurship and dream chasing: community. I realized I needed to collaborate and connect – rather than compete—to bring my vision to life. Read the rest >>
Photo by Whitney Schey