The Grass Isn’t Greener – A Struggle to Stop Envying Our Idea of Success

This year I have traveled more than I have ever traveled in one year and it is only June. I used to really envy people who traveled like this, thinking they were somehow more magically successful and special than me. But I only saw half of the picture. I am still kinda jealous of Casey Neistat and all his jetsetting and making movies all over the world. Shoot, I am still kinda envious of Kelly Purkey and her fun travels we see via Instagram! But I can say now that all that jet setting and travel and seeing fun cool things doesn't come without a hefty price. While I was out of town I got an email from Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters about how the “grass isn't greener” on the other side of the fence like we think it is. We envy what we don't have, thinking that it is some sign or badge of success, when really, it is just something different from what we are doing. It's not even that they are “MORE” or we are “LESS” … it's just a different experience than what our experience is. A different, maybe more intense story than our own. At least, that is what we think our idea of success is – something other than what we have now. This year I am learning more than ever, not to envy the successful, or at least not to envy my idea of what I think it is to be successful. It doesn't mean to stop dreaming or trying or growing or reaching. It means to know that what we see on social media and online is truly a small piece of the pie. It's like Lynette Young said in her keynote at NMX last year – you can only see a tiny bit of the iceberg above water and it's easy to think successful people have had overnight success. There is this whole big story we never see or experience unless it is our own story.
I just got back this weekend from a fabulous trip to Florida where I was on a retreat with the Cousin Creative Circle Ambassadors for Cousin Corp. We stayed on the beach in Tampa, Florida at the Double Tree Hotel just 20 feet from the water's edge. We received lots of beads and craft supplies, our beds were covered with fancy snacks and gifts to make our beach stay wonderful, and we enjoyed walking on the beach every single day. We got to talk about beads and blogging and crafting with people who also love beads and blogging and crafting. We went shopping, ate gourmet dinners, and hung out with the super fun and funny Cousin team as well as got to know our fellow Ambassadors.  When the retreat was over, I rented a car and drove to Orlando, where I spent 24 hours with my good friend Joanne, enjoying more gourmet food, shopping, and a few lettering lessons before flying nearly 5 hours home. The trip was super fun but also exhausting. Right before this trip, I spent only 3 days at home after being gone for 6 days to Alt Summit, on a road trip with my daughter from California to Utah. 
Over these last few months where I have been traveling so much, a few people have remarked that I am lucky or that they are envious of all the travel I am getting to do. I really do truly feel so fortunate to be able to go on all these trips. It's kind of what I thought “living the blogger/designer dream” was all about. Crafts, glamour, and jet setting! LOL Lots of things in my personal life are at a point where this can happen – my husband is amazing and isn't bothered at all by taking care of the kids. And my kids are older – Katie is old enough to watch Matthew and he is old enough to be busy with his own things to not need Mom by him every 10 minutes. Katie can cook, the kids know how to order pizza, my sister lives nearby, and the neighbors all know the kids. I can leave without too much upset. Sure, they miss. But they get by and my husband is a hands-on Dad so much so that I can't think of a time I got any kind of panicked phone call from him about anything with the kids. 
I also know that this is the result of 12 years of work, networking, and busting my butt. I also have an assistant and an intern working for me, helping do some of the work so I can keep things going as smoothly as possible. As much as it has been super fun to travel, inspiring to go so many places, and so educational to learn from all the people I have learned from on these trips, I am really really thankful to be home.
To say I am tired is an understatement. When I went to visit Joanne, I slept for 10 hours at her house. She is a fab hostess πŸ˜‰ But I also think it was the weight of it all catching up to me. I am still exhausted but I came home to non-stop action once again and here it is after 11pm and I am looking at a few more hours of work ahead of me. I had to say “no” to someone I did not want to say no to today because I just did not have it in me to get up and do what they needed.
I never really thought I'd ever be the object of anyone else's envy. I mean, I weigh ALOT (at some point, let's just agree numbers are no longer necessary), I am too short to reach the top shelf, and I have really straight eyelashes that won't ever curl. But when I saw several comments on social media about how “lucky” I am to go on these trips, it gave me pause. It IS fun and amazing and unique to be able to do this. But it comes with a hefty price. The little bit of time I have been home, I have been working like mad to catch up on what I missed and then work ahead on what I will miss during the next trip. I also have all the family things to do – pay bills, take kids to the dentist, Orthodontist and Oral Surgeon (yeah, that happened THIS week), take my car back to the transmission shop for the 11th time, and go to baseball practices and games and drama club awards and watch dance recitals. I miss things in my personal and professional life. I miss emails because they don't always come through on my phone and I have several thousand waiting for me when I get home. I miss deadlines because I just have too many to-do lists that don't fit on the page of my calendar any more. I am super scared of getting sick because I don't have time for down time. My garden is full of weeds, my yard is even fuller of weeds, and I feel like my house looks like Sanford and Sons in the front yard. I come home to stacks of boxes and piles of mail that I have to sort and then blog about. And I curse myself for signing up to do yet another thing for free when I just don't have the time. I have to say “no” to people I really want to help because I cannot commit. I gained 5 pounds because I am not eating right or exercising regularly. When I come home, I bring with me mountains of laundry to do. Xaver and the kids do what they can but it is stressful on them to be here doing all of the things themselves, especially with his extended commute (five times longer than it should be) due to construction in the Cajon Pass. I have no new crops in the garden because I have not been home to plant the seeds. My new cat takes a few days to warm up to me and he doesn't really know who I am. There is a thick layer of dust on everything when I get home, I dust, and then I leave again. My garage is more and more messy each time I come back from a trip and I just don't have the time or energy to deal with it. I can't do all the other fun things I want to do like make crafts. My eyes are glazing over and I am just wishing some crafty blog leprechaun would jump out of a bottle of glue and make all the work be done all magically delicious and stuff. You know, like in a Disney movie.
I know, what a complainer I am! But the point is that there is alot to the story that no one sees. I am overjoyed at the fun and awesomeness. But not without a cost.Now, there are some benefits to this insane, never-home thing. When you have less time to fiddle around because you aren't going to be home, you prioritize. Delete that email, just say “no”, do the most important things first… it's easier when you know you have only 5 more hours to get it all done. There's also a sense of possibility that comes from traveling – you feel like you could have less things and be more nomadic. I feel like I could more embrace the idea of moving cross-country. For a minute I fantasized about just getting rid of all of my stuff and living in hotels and rental cars. And of course the trips to cool places are really super duper fun, mostly. The TSA part of the trip is no bueno and the dude with sausage breath who sat next to you on the plane, well. Oh and the old lady who farted in your face when she was trying to put her luggage in the overhead bin… please tell me the stewardess has bleach for my face! And getting pulled over by a state trooper in Florida… he gave me a “souvenir”. Should I scrapbook that? He could smell the California on me…
Anyways… the point is, all things come with a price. What you have is great. What I have day-to-day is great. Traveling is fun and cool and exciting. But it isn't BETTER. It's different. And for me, if I keep looking at things that way, I can be happier for myself, happier for others, and stop wallowing in being envious of what I don't have. I only see a small part – maybe I don't want the whole enchilada if I know it only has a small piece of chicken inside and the rest is filled with beans. Life's too short for that. I want an all chicken enchilada, please. PLEASE!
I was going to add photos to this post. But you know what? It is ready now, just like this. I think I am just gonna go get some sleep. Hope you have a wonderful night full of your own amazing dreams and no one else's.
Jennifer Signature Block-JUST JP May 2015

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Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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  1. Well now, if you eat the one with a small bit of chicken and all beans, then when you next get on a flight and put your stuff in the overhead locker, you will be the one farting…sorry, just could not resist! Great post.

  2. WONDERFUL ARTICLE!!!! And exactly what I needed to read this morning. I’ve been in the dumps lately not feeling very successful because my income has recently gone down. But your article reminded me to look at the ALL of the things that I am successful at, which right now consists mostly of philanthropic non-profit work. Thank you for keeping it real and giving me the insight I needed. πŸ™‚

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