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  • Writer's pictureSydney J. Shields

How long will I be in this airport?

A question that anyone asks while traveling.

Airports are so unpredictable. You might have a printed itinerary, complete with crisp new boarding passes and perfectly packed bags, but you cannot control what happens once you get to that gate. Are you even at the right gate? Is the plane going to actually arrive? Will it take off at the time you expected? Will you make it to your next flight on time?

Your flight is delayed. You board last and there is not enough space in the overhead compartments for your bag. You are stuck in the back of the plane between two strangers. The coffee is cold and the soda is flat. And when you arrive, you have exactly 3 minutes to make it to your next flight before you are stranded for the night.

But you MAKE it. You're on your red-eye flight. You have a whole row to yourself. They bring you both red and white wine. The complimentary blanket is surprisingly soft and heavy. You are calm.

Being in a creative field is a lot like traveling. There are all of these long, stressful waiting periods where you constantly fear that you are doing everything wrong. You worry that you are not where you're supposed to be, and that you're never going to get out of this uncomfortable spot. And then, it's immediately followed by these jolting and unrelenting sprints when you find the right path. You rush to get there on time. Meet those deadlines. Speak to the right people at the right time. Reach for the hand that is offered to you. Make it. Make it. Make it.

It can be so exhausting, and it is impossible to plan for everything. I often find myself thinking, "Am I cut out for this life? Am I strong enough for this sprint/wait cycle?"

I'm someone who is pretty numb to disappointment and rejection—you have to be in order to find inner peace while working in any creative field. I know that I'm on the right path. I've never been more sure of anything. I am meant to be a writer. But that does not absolve me from self-doubt, imposter syndrome, or bouts of exhaustion.

I've recently had the most exciting few days of my writing career so far, and I cannot wait to share all of this news with y'all! Seriously, I could not be more grateful. But I'm writing this as a reminder to myself, and just to be transparent, that successes don't fix everything or make all the negative self-talk go away. Sometimes, for me at least, success feels less like adrenaline and more like utter relief, and I just want to curl up into a ball for a few days and rest. But I can't, because I have another sprint right ahead of me and I can't stop sprinting until I get to where I need to be. And now, there's a timeline. A ticking clock that wasn't there before. And it is SCARY.

I guess I just want to remind everyone, and myself, that we're all trying our best. The people we look up to—the people that we think are living OUR dreams—are probably just as tired as we are. We just have to be kind, and stay human. Maybe we can all make it out of this f-ing airport together.

Keep reaching out your hand.

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