I went to my first writer’s conference recently, which was in many ways my first physical step into the writer’s world. It was a little intimidating: to come out from behind my keyboard and small, familiar audience and enter a crowd of writers. People who do the same thing as me.
In solitude there is a sort of novelty, a convincing that you’re special. You can believe that you’re the only one with a mind that works the way yours does, or a passion that plays itself out like yours, or a day as full and creative as yours. Even though it can become sort of lonely, I think it can also become sort of prideful.
Entering a crowd like this, though, was a wake-up call for me. Hundreds of Christian writers packed into an auditorium, dressed nicely with confident and life-filled smiles. I could see it in all of them, the beauty and joy of writing. Talking with these people, so like-minded to me, was exciting! I could identify with them in ways I can't with anyone else. They understood the problems and joys I experience in writing.
But there was also a pain to it: I didn’t feel quite so special anymore. Many of the attendees were published authors with multiple books. Most of them at least had a clear vision for their writing and where it was going. As I learned more and talked to more people, I realized just how small I am. I felt "less than" all day long. To add to that feeling (with a bit of humor), my left high heel completely fell apart while I was walking down a flight of stairs in the morning. I went about the rest of my day barefoot in a professionally-dressed crowd.
To put it lightly, I was in a sour mood at the end of this thing. I had let the less than feeling infiltrate every thought about my writing, I was semi-convinced that I should quit my blog altogether, plus my feet hurt from walking barefoot!
I wonder if you’ve ever felt this way. It doesn’t have to be about writing; it could be about anything. Your hobby, your job. Anything that made you feel special and important. Then the sudden realization. The world is huge, there are so many people. It comes natural to feel small. To feel lost in the crowd.
I wallowed for a few hours. Yuck.
But then I realized this: satan was trying to twist something good and beneficial into a discouragement to me! How dare he! There were amazing speakers and workshops, and I was scribbling notes all day long. It was a good thing to meet other writers. It was a good thing to realize I’m not alone in this.
Here are a few things I’ve taken away from this day and how it affected me. I know they’ll be able to encourage you as well, even if you’re not a writer at all!
“God is moving in many hearts, and that doesn’t take away from what he wants you to do.”
This is something our keynote speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, said at the beginning of the conference. How wise! Just because you’re not the only [fill in the blank] in the world doesn’t mean you don’t have a unique purpose from God. No one has the exact past experiences, set of talents, and passions as you. No one at all! This means that no one is better equipped to execute God’s plan for your life than YOU! This also means that there is no fair way to compare yourself to anyone else. It’s actually impossible to compare in a way that takes account for all these variables- so cut it out!
When others are doing what you’re passionate about, it should make you excited!
The fact that you’re passionate about a certain thing means you see value in it. You see that the world needs it. So why not rejoice when you see that others are doing it, propelling it, excelling at it? The world is a better place because of it! Let go of your competitive mindset, it only serves to hurt you.
Pride stunts growth.
Don’t be afraid of not being on top. If you are, you’ll run from opportunities to learn, listen to experts, and ultimately grow. Humbly accept where you are, without shame. Only then will you be able to grow.
You are not “less than.” Never, ever, ever stare at someone else’s successes and lament about your own perceived failure. If you do, you’ll convince yourself that you’re hopeless. The inward insults will grow deep and infect everything you believe about yourself. Stop it before it happens! God calls you “beloved”- unconditionally. He loves you in the daydreaming and beginning stages, he loves you in the discouraging middle, and he loves you in the exciting, successful end- all the same. No success or failure can change that.
So when you’re feeling lost in the crowd or like you’re “less than,” I pray you’ll remind yourself of these truths. I’ve felt the pain and hopelessness that comes from comparison, and I’d love for you to avoid it.
Now get on with your day! Go into the world and do what you love, what you care about: unhindered by comparison and lies, and thriving on the truth.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!