I hiked my first fourteener mountain in Colorado a few years ago. When we started at the base I made the mistake of looking up at the massive mountain towering above me. I immediately got overwhelmed and started doubting that I could never make it to the top, or even close to the top. Likewise, intimidation has recently been doing circles around my heart. It's easy for me to look at a beautiful blog, stellar design portfolio or successful small business and get discouraged that my work isn't yet to that level. I have design work in progress, finished work not yet photographed, posts still in draft mode and creative ideas unrealized. Even after I put up a post or project on my site, I sometimes worry it's not good enough. The photograph is too grainy or I've said something silly. When you're new at something, it's so easy to look to the people that are already established in your area and think you'll never add up.
However, I've been reminded lately that we all start somewhere. Even those on top of the mountain once were at the base. That's been sticking with me. The best bloggers or designers or small business owners probably didn't start out making the most beautiful posts, photos, sites or projects. I even cringe a little when I think back to my very first post, and that was a little over a year ago. I can't imagine what I'll think of this post a year from now. When I see a successful site or business it's easy to forget that that person started from the beginning as well and it most likely took years of hard work to get to where they are today.
If I think back, where I am today looks completely different from the style and type of design I was doing when I started. My first internship was unpaid and required me to drive 45 minutes away to a tiny town where I designed and placed ads for a small, regional magazine. It was not glamorous work. My first actual design job was working the night shift until 2am at the local newspaper designing tiny black and white ads. I hope I never have to touch another car lot sales ad again! Also, obviously not glamorous. I have not necessarily arrived in my career, but I'm (mostly) happy and comfortable with who I have become as a freelance designer.
We made it up that mountain. It took us almost 12 hours up and down. We made wrong turns, climbed over endless boulders, reached the summit later than we should have and ran out of water. But, we made it. It was a slow path that we took step by step. When I remember to take things day by day and not compare myself to others, I fare far better. There will be missteps and mistakes, but that's how we all move forward.
*I wish this quote was more gender inclusive for the ladies, but I like the sentiment too much not to share.