This illustration by Michelle Rial made me smile because, as I’ve hinted at recently, I deal with this fear a lot.
I’m staring down my email inbox on a Monday morning, organizing my class workload for the week, and wondering if it’s too early to make myself a second espresso (it’s 9:30am, I think not.) This isn’t what I thought my mid-thirties would look like. Being back in freaking college? All the lol’s.
But when I saw Michelle’s image this morning, it reminded me of the moment when I decided to change course. It was about five years ago. I had two very sweet and small (and energetic!) little boys and a growing career as a media makeup artist. I was getting jobs, and the kind that I wanted to do, but the juggle between freelance life and motherhood was becoming too much. I knew that I wanted to work, to contribute to society in a larger way, but the fit of makeup artist life wasn’t the right one for me anymore.
I read Jon Acuff’s Start that summer while sitting on my front porch watching the boys eat popsicles and chase bugs. The whole book is a funny and motivating kick in the pants, but this quote pretty much sums up Jon’s message,
“You don’t need to go back in time to be awesome; you just have to start right now. Regretting that you didn’t start earlier is a great distraction from moving on your dream today, and the reality is that today is earlier than tomorrow.”
His book was a tool in helping me to navigate that moment– one that I could sense by the Spirit was the right move to make, but was nerve-wracking nonetheless. I decided that summer to retire from the makeup artist path and to go back to school.
I would be lying if I said that I haven’t looked back…I have doubted my decision at times, but not for the reasons that you might think. I don’t miss the hustle of working as an artist, but I do miss the collaborative work of a creative team. I don’t miss the long days on set, but I do question “starting over” at all. Why does 36 feel so old sometimes? Why does charting a new path at this age feel so intimidating? (Okay, I know it’s not that old, but man, the social-media-saturated-culture-of-success struggle is still real.)
Anyway, I don’t have any profound answers to the fear right now, other than to offer a hearty “Amen!” to Jon’s words,
“People are mistaken when they think chasing your dream is a selfish thing to do. As if perhaps being average is an act of humility. As if perhaps wasting the talents you were given is proof that you’re a considerate individual.
I don’t want to waste the time, resources, or talent that God has put in my care. I want to be a good steward of his gifts, even if starting over is a little scary.
(If you’re considering a change and interested in reading Jon’s book, I highly recommend it!)