This time last year... we were all in a very different place. For some it was last week, for others it was this week that the world turned upside down. To be honest, the weeks after my 22 birthday weren't my favorite. A pandemic shook the world. Fear and uncertainty took over the lives of many. Even my own family was unsure and cautious those first few weeks. It was literally one of the most stressful times I've ever had. I just remember being such a giant anxious ball of nerves for a lot of March.
We had no answers, didn't know what would become of this pandemic. The CDC and government were saying people would die left and right, were making all kinds of doomsday promises. Who wouldn't be rattled?
It's crazy to think it's been a year since all of this hit, since all of our lives changed so radically. But here's the thing, for me anyways. I love new years. I love starting a new year. They're full of promises, full of a whole year ahead of us of unknowns and potential. But there's always this one moment - or a few moments - at the start of every year where I look back and think... nothing really changed. Life feels so stagnant. My life feels so stagnant. Like I'm never quite moving forward. I'm just stuck doing the same old thing every day. Yeah, I know, it's a pretty depressing thought. Maybe I think this every year because whether it's a severe case or not, there's always a little bit of seasonal depression running through my head right around January and February. But depression or not, I always end up thinking that at the start and end of ever year.
But the thing is... this year was different. I was telling my mom about these thoughts because I was feeling them again. About feeling like nothing ever changes, I'm just stuck doing the same thing. I know I mentioned this in my birthday post, but I don't know... it was hitting me all over again this week, so I thought why not give it a whole post. But she pointed out how actually a lot changed in 2020. Life definitely did not remain the same or stagnant last year. For better or for worse (and let's be honest, for a lot of us it feels like for the worse) our lives got shaken up and thrown around like a snow globe in a kid's hands last year. Our routines, our priorities, our lives shifted. For a lot of people that shift is permanent. For some it was temporary, but had a lasting impact on us.
After she said that, I was like... that is the most oddly encouraging thing I've heard about 2020. In a strange way it made me feel a lot better. The realization that life is always changing, always shifting and sometimes, there's nothing we can do about it. It made me see 2020 and everything that had happened in a different way. I'm grateful for a lot of things that happened last year. Even the really hard, sad things. Without them, I would still feel stuck in a rut. Without them, I don't know if I would have gotten to the place I'm at now where I'm ready to move forward and dive into new things and keep going.
I was thinking about it over the weekend, and I realized if we're thinking about big life changing things, then more than likely not every year is going to be full of change. That's what I've been doing. Is counting the big things. The things you check off your Need To Do or Want To Do list. But if you stop for a second and admire the small things, you'll realize your year, your life, is full of changes and ups and downs. That, not a single year goes by where something doesn't happen, where you don't change in some way, shape or form.
I was getting pretty discouraged with my writing and how it feels like my writing in terms of selling books and things like that hasn't grown. It's not where I wanted it to be. I started to think it will never get to where I want it to be. I never expected to become the next J.K. Rowling or anything like that, but I had hoped for a little bit of something. More than what I have now.
But then I was thinking back on when I published Weapon Icean, my debut book. I thought back on previous years and on last year and I realized... I have grown. I've never been stuck or in a rut, not in the way I thought I was. When I published Weapon Icean, I had zero platform or following or anything. I didn't know what I was doing. My blog had like five followers, my Instagram had less than a hundred followers. I didn't have a website or a newsletter or anything. Thirteen followers on a blog feels miniscule. A thousand and something followers on Instagram doesn't feel like a lot. Selling maybe three copies a month of my books is nothing. Compared to where others are at all of that is nothing. Compared to authors who sell a hundred copies a month or even just ten copies a month, three is pretty dang discouraging. But that's the thing. I've been measuring a lot of my life with the ruler of comparison. Putting my life up against someone else's journey and looking between the two and not measuring up. Especially when it comes to my writing.
(I don't really know where this blog post is going anymore. I started writing this with something very different in mind, but here we are talking about writing and comparison, so let's just keep going with this and see what happens haha)
You will always fall short if you are comparing yourself to others, especially to those on social media. Your life will never live up to the standards of lives people put on their social medias. That's the danger of it. You miss the growth you've had if all you're doing is looking at someone else's race and feeling sorry for yourself because you aren't where they are. But guess what? Just because someone may be growing faster than you, or in a different season of life than you, doesn't mean you aren't growing at all, doesn't mean you're life is empty and stagnant and useless.
It just means you are your own person and you are on your own journey and running your very own race. The race God gave you because you are uniquely you. That sounds so cliché, but it's so true too! When I stopped comparing myself to others and really looked back without thinking about where other people - other authors - are at, I marveled at how far I've come. How far God has brought me. It's been a slow, slow process. Slower than a snail it feels like sometimes. But I've gotten so far. I have thirteen followers on this blog! People comment on every one of my blog posts (thank you guys so much for that too, I love hearing and talking with you guys!). I used to get zero engagement on here when I first started this thing. I sell books and get Kindle Unlimited reads every month even if it's only one copy or a few pages! That's more than I had when I first published Weapon Icean. I have almost 1,100 followers on Instagram which is just... like way, way, way more than I had at the start of last year. I was thinking about all of that, taking inventory, and I was just so thankful to God for all He's accomplished in my life. He's given me so much and has grown me so much. It's been a slow process, but one that I am so thankful for, nonetheless.
Because of the pandemic I was able to learn how to drive on deserted roads through my town. My mom took me out every week because we had nothing better to do and because no one else was going anywhere, so I was able to learn how to drive without so much anxiety because there were less cars on the road. My anxiety has gone way down, and I feel confident enough to get my driver's license. Honestly, that is thanks to the pandemic. I don't know if I would have gotten so much practice in if not for everyone having to stay at home for those first few weeks last year haha
Maybe I'm the only one who struggles with feeling like their stuck in a rut or like they'll never go anywhere, like life is just frozen in time and they're stuck doing the same thing every day. Or maybe that's just my depression talking on my worst days. But if you've felt these feelings or thought of these things before, you aren't alone and sometimes all it takes is some perspective and narrowing your range. Don't think about the big, exciting things you have or haven't accomplished. Think about all the little steps that you got you to where you are and thankfulness will follow and where thankfulness is, contentment will come soon after.