There's a misconception in the creative small business world that everyone is busier than you. You can curate your following 'til the cows come home, but it's virtually impossible to bury your head so far into the sand that you don't notice what others are doing. And by the very nature of social media, the moments when you find yourself face to face with other people's work is when you're not working. Since it's impossible to create content WHILE reading content from others, it's always going to feel one sided.
But the truth is, whether you're trying to book 16 weddings in a year or 45, the struggle is the same. Whether you have 4 employees and a tiny empire of your own, or you're working on a laptop in your pjs, the brave face you put on for the world isn't the whole story.
Tell me this stuff doesn't sound familiar...
Why didn't that person book me for their wedding?
Should I change my pricing?
Should I completely rebrand my entire website and blog?
Maybe I should sign up for that wedding show...
She's charging more than me! Maybe I need to UP my pricing.
How many weddings did I have booked this time last year?
I haven't been to a conference in awhile, I should probably do that.
SUBMISSIONS! I keep forgetting to submit all of those gorgeous weddings from the spring...
How many times a week should I be blogging?
Did I instagram something yet today?
I wonder if that venue has a preferred vendor list...
I totally didn't instagram something today.
It's that struggle that creates fear, and the fear stops up from making changes in our businesses that we might otherwise have made. It makes us feel alienated from our peers, it makes us feel inadequate. How can we be proud of our own accomplishments when it always seems like we're one step behind?
Early on in my business, someone gave me some advice: keep your head down, do your own thing, and you'll never be unhappy with what you're doing.
But as industry friendships develop, it becomes harder and harder to keep your head down. As I see it, there are two options:
1. Unfollow, unlike, and RSVP that you can't make it to the networking event. Or...
2. Keep your friendships, and take it to heart that we all struggle. Use your words to portray a true and heartfelt image of your business to others, struggle and all. And more than that, use your words to build up the people around you. Fill them with positivity about the work that they're doing, because you never truly know how much of a struggle they hold private.
I keep thinking about that advice I'd received so long ago...
I'm saying yes to keeping my head down. I'm saying yes to doing my own thing. But I'm also saying yes to embracing the struggle. As Lara Casey would say, I'm sitting in the tension. It's uncomfortable and it's met with unease in a hundred different ways. But in this tension, I'm finding my work. The struggle makes me push ahead with more steam than I thought I had. The struggle makes me stay up working on a new website until 2:45am, because I just can't pull myself away. The struggle makes me rethink every aspect of my business in search for the weak spots.
The struggle forces me to look around and notice that we are all in the same boat, finding success, finding failure, and trying to push forward. This time around, I'm going to make the most of it. I'm going to keep hustling. But I'm also going to give myself some grace, because, well...for lack of a better term: the struggle is real.