Comparison, Career Paths, and Contentment

Today's post was promised awhile back on my Instagram. These words still hold true, and it is an email conversation between my husband, Aaron, and myself.

Comparison, Career Paths, and Contentment //

Briana: Maybe people in all fields feel this pressure. The pressure to be the best, have a following, be successful, and curate the best social media presence. It's rough. 

I'm a graphic designer by trade. It's what I went to college for, what I lost sleep over, and what I've been pursuing since graduation. I know I've worked hard and I know this is what I'm good at. But when I start to look at what others are doing, I feel inadequate and unsuccessful.

I sometimes question the motivations in my heart as to why I do what I do. I do not want to measure myself against others I see on the internet. I have to remind myself that most of the freelance people I see, are doing that full time. Then I remember that I work full-time professionally as a designer. That's the season I'm in, and I truly love the work I get to do. I love having an art director and being on a team. This might sound terrible, but it's a thought that has run through my head: the people who are running successful freelance businesses, I sometimes wonder if they could do the job I do. I think that's an okay thing to wonder. To know that we all have different strengths in the creative world. Some of us need to be in house designers. Some of us need to brand small businesses.

My husband and I have talked a lot about what our careers will look like. Right now we're thinking through steps for him to take to have more opportunities as an illustrator. He's a really really good illustrator. Like, really good.

Aaron: True, unless we work 80 hours a week, then we won’t be able to do our full time jobs and also do full time freelance. That’s just math! :) Obviously the internet could give any observer all sorts of unachievable standards for beauty, work ethic, healthy eating, exercising, anything. There is an over-saturation of every possible option, and that makes us greedy, since we see all the things others have in life and want them for ourselves. But all we see is a photo on a screen, and that isn’t what our lives are. Anything that is photo on a screen is a vast reduction of what the thing actually is. Everything is a compromise, for to choose one thing is to say no to another. Every yes is a no to all other possible yeses.

SO, in application to social media subject matter, to healthy cooking entrees choices, to what car to buy, to what budgeting advice you take, to what radio station you choose to listen to (or podcast): all that we see others choosing and broadcasting is their “yes” to that thing. And when we see their “yes” on social media, our observation requires us to have one of three responses: covetousness, dislike, or indifference. I think rarely are we indifferent. More often we dislike because we think “I don’t want that for me.” And we “like” because we think “I would want that for me.”

So our social media likes, dislikes, observations, and wasted time and time spend ogling or scrolling all adds up to an effect on our soul that would be completely naïve to ignore as an activity in which our hearts remain neutral. Everything is sacred, there is no neutral “secular” territory, for all things belong to God and all people are made in his image after Him, made to worship. What does our “like” history tell us about what we are worshipping?  

Comparison, Career Paths, and Contentment //

Briana: Here is our conclusion and encouragement. Look at what you're doing. Why are you doing it? Really look and ask yourself that. Be content where you are. Also know that career transformation takes time and patience and intentionality. I bounced through a few jobs I liked and disliked to get to this point in my career. It has taken a lot of hard work and patience. Aaron keeps chugging away at doing illustration and building his skills, and I'm excited to see where this road takes him.