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There Is No Falling Behind

Heidi Shenk

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this article, and it was as if the author was speaking directly to me. You know, it was that kind of moment where the clouds in the sky part, and the sun shines down, and everything clicks, and you're having one of those breakthroughs.

Three years ago, when I quit teaching to work on my business full time, it felt like I was starting over. I was 29 years old, I'd spent six years already establishing a career in teaching, and I'd worked my way up the pay scale from the point of being that recntly graduated 23 year old that was trying to make ends meet to the nearly 30 adult that had it figured out and was living fairly comfortably. Generally, I felt as though I was making the normal progressions through adult life.

When I quit teaching, I expected to have a smooth transition from one career to the next. However, it didn't quite work out that way. Instead, it felt like I was starting over. I felt as though I had to figure everything out all over again-- like I was the fresh out of college twenty-something figuring out how to get by. Everything in my life felt like it was behind schedule by those six years that I spent teaching.

I felt six years behind in the progress of my career, in my pay scale, in the "I've got this figured out" department. When I looked at the others in my field, I would see other women who were at the same level as me though many years younger. And when I'd examine the women my age in my field they were already well-established, had things figure out, and were moving on to the "normal" stages of life that most people embrace at this age-- expanding their business, hiring help for the more mundane tasks that need to get done, having the ability to go on vacation and take time off, having babies, and even opening their own storefronts.

Comparison is a tough thing. I have often told myself that I can't compare my life to that of others, but I started to feel as though I was falling behind. I felt as though I was running out of time to open my own retail store and studio. I felt as though I was running out of time to establish my business in a constantly changing marketplace. I felt as though I was running out of time to have kids, if I even wanted to go that route. All this because I felt as though I was six years behind after starting over in life.

And I still feel this way. Maybe that's a natural tendency in life. Yet at the same time, I'm only 32. And in the grand scheme of things, that's only a few short years within the entirety of my life. Why should I feel as though I need to be where everyone else is at the moment? Why should my timeline match that of everyone else around me? Yes, it becomes harder and harder to relate to those around me when we're at such different stages in our lives, but I guess that is just part of the growing pains of life.

When I read this article, it was a solid reminder that even when I think I'm falling behind, I'm not. There is no "behind" to fall to because everyone is just where they're supposed to be within their moment in time here on earth. We're all on our own schedule, not a schedule dictated by those surrounding us, and that's ok. I shouldn't have to feel as if I'm barely staying afloat when I'm paddling in a completely different direction.

Am I the only one who has felt as though they're starting over? How do you try to remind yourself that you're right where you need to be?

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