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Do I have a place?

Pernille Ryttersgaard Rønn

Posted on February 05 2018


Last weekend I attended Formland, which is a big design trade show here in Denmark.

I didn’t feel like going. Because I know how hard it is for me not to compare myself with others. And at a trade show, all there is, is comparison. You have so much talent and creativity in one place, and then you have buyers going around comparing one product to the other, choosing which one they believe in. 

There is a reason I felt particularly insecure leading up to this trade show. During the fall of last year, I’ve had several experiences, where I’ve tried to show vulnerability, and I’ve been met with misunderstanding. I’ve been looked down upon, because I chose to share honestly about my insecurities, instead of highlighting my own accomplishments. I’ve shared the hard stuff to be the ‘me too’ for someone needing it as much as myself. To create a sense of connection with colleagues, instead of competition.

I’ve also looked around and seen a lot of the attitude: ‘I worked hard, so I deserve this success’, and that’s been truly disheartening, -being someone who also works hard, with little success so far. I think people should be so, so careful when uttering statements like that. And I don’t think that’s how the world works. Everyone deserves success and for their dreams to come true, but that’s just not always the way things work out.

The experience of the last 4 days, being smack in the middle of the biggest comparison-trap, has left me feeling inadequate. And to be honest, really truly honest, I am doubting, that I have a place. That I belong somewhere in my work life. Yes. Mrs.-‘your story is grand, no matter how small you feel’- is not sure what her place is, in this world. In this industry. With this business. With these dreams.

I don’t want a job working for someone else, because I’ve yet to have a truly fulfilling experience with that. I want to design paper, but I’m also seeing competition rise everywhere I look. (6 stationery lines at Formland this time, compared to just 2, two years ago + all the big companies making their own line of stationery.) I am not sure I will succeed in this and other people’s assurance is not enough. It does not pay the bills, it does not give me time off and it does not fund a vacation with my husband. I currently have a big minus in my bank account, around 800 kr. for the rest of this month (for gas, food etc.), and I am not sure I can pay myself any money next month. I have the most wonderful, supporting husband, but we cannot pay our bills with hope and encouragement.

I am sharing all of this, in the name of honesty. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, and I hope you will not look down on me, because I am open about what chasing your dreams can sometimes look like. I am sharing this, to say that chasing your dreams is hard and wonderful, and right now: I feel the weight of it. Maybe you are too. You are not alone. I am here with you, and I say ‘let’s not give up just yet’.

I am tired. Not sleepy, but tired to the bone of this constant striving. Trying to live up to something, that comparison tell me to. Trade shows are about ‘showing off’, and I don’t want to be part of that. I truly dislike how it makes me feel. I would love to attend, and not sit with this feeling I have now. I want to create pretty, meaningful products, and love on my customers. I cannot bring my ideas to life at the rate I would like to, because I can only use what comes into my business to make new products. That means my competition will most likely pass me by. 

But I can thank each and every customer from the deepest part of me, and send off the products with a little prayer that they will bring joy and encouragement.

Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I am so grateful for you, friend.

Love, Pernille.