Playing the comparison game in any aspect of life is a dangerous thing. There is always someone who seems prettier, more successful, or just downright better than you at something that holds meaning to you. I have grown so much more comfortable at not feeling like I needed to be the best at everything I participated in. It's an unrealistic expectation that will end in disappointment and unnecessary criticism of yourself.
The part I still struggle with most is being a part time professional photographer. Even though no one has said anything remotely close to where my brain goes, the insecure part of me whispers "If you were a real professional, you wouldn't have a need a day job", every time I explain to a potential client that I am unavailable during the week because I have a 9-5 situation. It's the same thing with not being able to make daytime networking events that take place during the week to avoid the events everyone in the wedding industry has on Saturday and Sunday.
Even as my skill has grown, and my need for validation has shrank, I still catch myself choking on those words as I force them out with a smile. As one of my favorite authors Tama Kieves stated "The authority of your soul does not require evidence". In other words, my quality of work speaks for itself, and I should not worry about how my dual employment is perceived. Quite frankly, if a client chose another photographer over me based on me not photographing full time, I likely dodged a bullet from someone who was looking for a reason to be unsatisfied from the get go.
The funny thing is, I like my day job. I have been in situations where I did not enjoy day jobs I've had in the past, and it only represented a paycheck, but in my current position I have a great boss, friendly staff, and a position that suits my skill set. There are days I don't want to go to work, but that is 100% the result of me overextending myself on a regular basis. If you are familiar with the part time struggle, you know the feeling of working eight hours, then coming home to work more if you ever hope to get anything accomplished. As a young and unmarried woman, I can't even imagine if I had the responsibility of family thrown in the mix.
What I have to remind myself of constantly is to focus on me and what I have to offer clients, even if its not my full time gig. Because though I can admire and emulate the work of others, when it comes down to it my business is all about what I make it, and no matter how hard I try it won't ever be the same as that one really talented entrepreneur you constantly stalk on social media with the perfectly decorated house, super clean office, a photogenic husband, and five dogs who all somehow photograph perfectly. It's my journey. My messy, wonderful, blessed, and sometimes a little stressed journey. And even though I might not own a wardrobe of color coordinated outfits to photograph weddings in, or shoot weddings in Denmark and Italy on a regular basis, I have build something to be proud of, and I guarantee you have too.
Allow your validation to be that you manage to juggle it all joyfully. That you make time for your dream. That you work those Starbucks, retail, receptionist, or corporate shifts, while you mind buzzes with creative possibilities. Not many people have the grit to act on a passion and maintain a business, much less do it while holding down something more stable with the majority of their time. You might feel like a coward for not 'believing enough' in your growing business to take the leap. It is not cowardly to take precautions and allow your idea to grow and develop without the pressure of being your main source of income, it takes guts to grind out both for the hope that your dream will flourish and become self sustaining.
Fly at your own pace, and know that what is right for your journey might not follow a steady path, or an explosion of overnight success, but it's all worth creating something wonderful.