On Sunday I turned 24 years old! I’m not sure why I feel kind of embarrassed to admit that. . . maybe because 24 always seemed so old in my head and I thought I would have accomplished more by now. But I’m trying to get over those feelings and I am starting with my own actions. I realized that I have been doing three terrible things since the summer ended:
1. Making excuses to push all of the things I want to do into the future instead of the now.
-Not enough time. Here’s a tip: there is always enough time. If you think you can’t do enough of the things you love, then you need to give up the things you dislike and replace them with the things you desire.
-Not enough space. This is what I have been most guilty of telling myself for the last four months, “If only I had more space to make ______ I could do so much more!” And though it is true that when I move in a few months I will have more space to work on bookmaking and sewing projects, it doesn’t mean I can’t work on things I love until then.
2. Comparing myself to others.
To most people this means looks, but not for me. I compare myself to others my age: their job, their salary, where they live. I compare myself to other cyclists: the miles they ride, the gear they use, how much they drive. I compare myself to other artists: what they make and how often they make it.
And here is the thing: this is bullshit. I mean excuse my french, but why should I care what other people my age are getting paid to do when I would never even want to do what they are doing? I mean, I’m all for getting inspired by others and becoming a better person daily. But this is not the same thing nor is it the right way to do it. I’ve learnt that the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself. That is the only way to know how you have grown as a cyclist, artist, baker, photographer, illustrator, writer, or person.
Think about it: if I compared every poem I wrote to Rainer Maria Rilke, or every mile I ran to Chris Trager, or anything I made to my best friend Danny McClain’s work (which is being featured all up in this post!), then I would literally never get anywhere. In the last year, I have taken poetry classes, done bookbinding workshops, been hit by a truck while cycling, and you know what? I am a better writer, artist, and cyclist because of all of them (even though that last one wasn’t my fault).
Nothing I learned or improved upon in the last year came from me looking at others and getting down on myself. It came from being inspired to never stop learning, never give up, and never quit trying. And that’s what I will keep doing.
3. Not trying out of fear of failing (or fear of criticism).
Okay, I know I literally just said “never quit trying,” and I meant it. Once I try something, I don’t mind trying again to improve it. But it’s just getting me to attempt in the first place that is the hardest. This ties into what I was talking about earlier. For example, it’s so easy for me to look at someone else’s beautifully decorated cake and then decide that I’d rather not make one at all than to try really hard and then have this super ugly cake. But worst case scenario— YOU STILL HAVE CAKE SO I MEAN WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? The point is: whoever made the beautiful cake I am drooling over— at some point— made a cake that they completely hated. You can’t get better at something you never started.
So we learn and we try and we get better. This post was supposed to be about the goals I set for myself this year, but instead this is what came out. You can’t hope to improve unless you take the time to acknowledge things holding you back. Which, in my case, is mostly myself. This post is longer and more personal than usual, so I will save my list of goals for another day, but I feel fine realizing I can achieve those goals if I just cut the nonsense and do what I really, truly, deeply want to do.
In short, I’d like to quote Yer Heart right now, “It’s so much better to mess up than to do nothing at all.”