When you feel like you'll never accomplish anything

It was Sunday evening and I was eating dinner and spending time with my family when somebody mentioned my 20th birthday coming up soon, and I basically started crying and opening up about feeling like a fraud and a failure because I still haven't accomplished anything meaningful.

Sure, graduating high school was neat. Okay, getting into film school as one of forty chosen out of six hundred who applied was pretty cool. Yeah, writing a novel before the age of sixteen was something I used to be really proud of. Yup, I have traveled quite a lot these past two years and it's been amazing how much it's made me grow as a person. And having a thousand followers on instagram isn't something all people have, either. Alright, parents, I see your point.

I feel like I've done nothing, but when you make it into a list like that, it does kinda prove me wrong.

Still, many tears were shed that day. I'd had hidden frustration building up inside me for quite a while, and apparently my time of the month decided for me that it was the perfect time to tackle all that secret worry, insecurity and doubt in these artistic endeavours I call my life.

I spent an hour crying to my parents about long lost friends I miss and want to reconnect with, unexplored ideas I've been putting off because I'm afraid that the time I've been given isn't sufficient, doubts I have about my abilities as a creator and worries of not being helpful enough in this world that's clearly shouting out for more magic, love and inspiration.

I know what the world needs from me, but I'm not sure if I'm good enough. What if I give my all and work until I can't do more, and it still doesn't change anything. What if I'm stupid for trying to do something that hasn't been done before.

Wouldn't I be better off settling for a little bit less? Wouldn't it be easier to do what's already been done and not waste my time fighting my brains out for something that may never work out?

Thoughts like these are scarse in my life these days, but that doesn't make them any less scary, or the doubts any less real. We can be going in the right direction and still wonder if it's wrong.

I had my first age crisis when I was twelve years old. I've always known what I want from my life and who I want to be. It's changed a lot as I've grown older, but I've always had a clear vision.

It's an advantage, because life decisions are pretty easy. But it's also a curse, because I'm always judging and comparing myself to that vision. Why am I not there yet? Why have I spent four years rewriting this book when my plans were to have it published before the age of eighteen?

I had it all planned out. On paper. Seriously, when I was fifteen years old and about to start high school, I made a detailed plan of the next fifteen years of my life. Books I would publish, films I would make, trips I would go on, people I'd date, when I'd get married, where I would live... Everything was written on paper, because I've always believed in the power of the written word.

If you write something into the world, it comes back to you.

So why am I still rewriting, stressing about my existence and struggling with speaking to people?

It's because no matter how good our intentions are, our purpose is always to first and foremost learn, and then maybe find success on the way. That means that with every difficult day we get closer to that fairy tale ending, but the hard days will still keep coming.

Fight for the fairy tale, but trust in the right timing.

If I'd felt like my novel was good enough, then I would've published it at eighteen. But that would have been a mistake, because it didn't feel right. I wasn't ready to step into the publishing world because I didn't know enough about the business, and I definitely didn't have enough life experience to survive that process.

Mistakes are good for you, but when something doesn't feel right, you save yourself a lot of pain down the road if you follow your intuition instead of some goal you wrote when you were fifteen.

I don't know if anyone can actually relate to this, because I was a pretty crazy, very intense fifteen-year-old, but we all feel at some point like life is just passing by and we're just here, trying to survive and not being what we wish we'd be. The clocks are ticking everywhere around us, and no matter how hard we try to be everything we dreamed of, we can't see ourselves getting anywhere.

It's a bumpy road, and we won't be dancing every step of the way. But we still keep moving forward. Tears drying on our cheeks or mud staining our knees. Sometimes it helps to glance back and realise just how far we've walked, despite not seeing the destination ahead. But then we keep doing what we need to be doing in order to some day get there.

And a little bit of progress every day will get you there. That's just a fact.

Lord of the Rings took Tolkien twelve years to write, and he's called a genius. Nobody cares that it took that long. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was written in ten years, and again, nobody cares. Michael Crichton researched and wrote Jurassic Park in eight years.

Compared to those, my four years isn't bad at all. I still have eight more years if I want to reach the level of excellence JRR Tolkien had. With every word, I'm learning, I'm growing, my story is evolving.

I've scrapped that 15-year plan now, because it serves me no purpose other than making me feel bad. And if I want to be published by 25, I really don't have time for feeling bad.

Just kidding.

Don't put time limits on your journey. Just love every step of the way and know that when you're ready, when you've worked hard and learned a lot and trusted the right timing, you'll realise all that struggling and pushing forward has already taken you there without you even noticing.

That's how I overcame my horrible social anxiety. I just kept going forward and learned to love the process of being scared and overcoming that fear. And now I'm here, knowing that if I repeat the same steps for my creative work, I'll get there.

Remember, slow progress always wins no progress.

Just always be dancing in your heart, trust the right timing and find your own brilliance. Fill your days with what you love doing most, and that timing and all the brilliance will find you too.

Love, Em.


  1. This is wonderfully articulated and even if I don't have the same fears I feel you. You'll become big one day, don't you worry!

    1. Aww that is just too sweet :) I don't need to be big, just bigger than myself. Thank you!