"In the midst of my creative hustle, I am reminded that my work does not define who I am––nothing will sustain our hustle like Jesus does."
Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God's will for you; which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
Most of us have heard the adage “comparison is the thief of joy”. This was a mantra for me in my early 20’s. But when you actually dig into what comparison is rooted in, you can identify what exactly is depleting your joy. I call it the "triple E"–– envy, expectations, and entitlement.
I was born and raised in the Silicon Valley, it seemed logical to go straight into the tech industry after college. I didn’t necessarily feel passionate about it, but my over-achiever-mentality was frantically telling me that this was the best next step.
After a few years of work, my situation changed, and I ended up without a job (welcome to Silicon Valley), back to square one. I felt like a failure. This wasn’t what success was supposed to look like; it wasn’t in the forecast. I began comparing myself to everyone around me and fell into a funk.
In turning to comparison, I found myself in a fog of fear and depression. I’ve always valued my faith in Jesus, but I had the painful realization that as I was striving for success, I was letting everything except Jesus direct my life.
After months of soul-searching, I felt that God was calling me to start my own business as a creative entrepreneur. Even though I never saw myself as the kind of person who would start a business, I had peace that if this was an endeavor that would thrive, God would sustain me and bring clients. I started my wedding planning business, Naseem Events, in April 2016 and this month marks two years and three “seasons” of work.
God created us for purposeful work. But there is a difference between doing meaningful work and letting that work or career path become our identity. The second we cross the line, we’re caught in a fog. It doesn’t matter if you’re in tech, own business or write poems: the “fog” is real, and comparison is often at the root.
When we become jealous of what someone else has, when we let our expectations direct our lives, when we allow a sense of entitlement about what deserve get in the way––we are susceptible to comparison, and losing our joy.
I have begun to check myself every time I start comparing my life to someone else’s. Every single time, comparison is rooted in one of the 3 E's. What I’ve learned is that the first step is identifying which ‘E’ you’re dealing with, and the tricky part is getting outside your own head. It’s crucial to not let pride keep you from an honest self-assessment.
Once you know which ‘E’ you’re facing, you need to turn to Jesus. We can't fix ourselves. We are surrounded by narratives of stories that idealize having it all together, but Jesus brings beauty to our brokenness. He reminds us that it’s ok to be confused. We will have seasons of fog, frustration and feeling inadequate.
In the midst of my creative hustle, I am reminded that my work does not define who I am. I could end my business tomorrow, and that would be ok. Nothing will sustain our hustle like Jesus does. We can put in all our time, energy, and effort––but purpose comes through Him. When we choose to let Jesus take over, we surrender the things that keep us from taking the creative leap. We surrender the entitlement, the pride, the envy, and the expectations, and in return we experience the joy of the Lord as we make things that matter.
Words: Naseem Khalili
Bay Area native, born and bred. After completing a double major in Communications and Psychology from UC Davis, Naseem dabbled in content writing for a tech startup in SF, recruiting, and finally launching her own wedding planning business, Naseem Events in April 2016. She simultaneously works as the Communications Director on staff at Awakening Church. Her passion and mission is to forge genuine connections between young adults that help them grow with each other and with Jesus.
Photos: Bryan Chung