On comparing yourself creatively…

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image by the ever Lovely Maria Herreros

“We are all just star dust”  “Don’t let others buff away your shine” “Keep your eyes on your own plate”

I have had some sort of revelation. I am constantly comparing my self to people in general and especially creatively/professionally. I obsess about what they have achieved, how well respected they are and how good they are and of course what recognition they get. I also grade my own happiness and success on their successes which thus equal my failures. Without going into too much moany detail I think it comes from the fact my life was shaken up at Uni with my health etc and I feel like I have lost years of experience with it. Whilst all of my peers are well into their careers I am still starting mine. At the near grand old age of 30 that hurts. It makes me feel amateur and inexperienced. It was further shaken up by moving to a new country and being totally out of my comfort zone and it has taken years to rebuild my life again.

There is one ongoing professional experience in my life at the moment that makes me constantly feel judged, compared and insufficient. I always seem to fall down at every hurdle. And I have realised why. I am my own worse enemy. I hold a double edged sword, which instead of fortifying myself (I don’t mean by attacking the outside world but rather using it to build a positive wall of strength) I in turn use it to pick and poke myself apart. I create problems where they don’t exist. I do further damage to myself by constantly allowing my self to be the submissive underdog. I literally block and hold myself back by negative thoughts and perceptions of the situations and environments I find myself in. Instead of being happy for others and pleased at the fact they are doing what they need to do in their own way I compare myself and take everything personally.

So while my peers are happy and comfortable in their success and creative endeavors I am sitting at home feeling crying into my duvet cover because I am not as good/creative/technical/don’t know how to align things/messy etc. I let the negative hold me back. I am doing nothing and beating myself up which does not make for a healthy happy creative heart and brain. I also think that you are your own thoughts and words, that every time you get upset and vocalise your insecurities and demise that you are then putting that out into the world/universe and people being people just pick up on that and put you into a little box of not greatness and that you seem not as good as you really are. Its like a reverse smoke and mirrors trick and magic really.

Here are some tips on how to get over that negativity and how to really be happy with your life/creative endeavors/skills etc..
4Left:My blank paperRight:AmyIsla
There will always be someone better than you. There will always be someone who can draw better, who can write better, who knows how to use Adobe illustrator (eek my nemesis), who looks at your work and see’s things you can’t see, only to pick it apart. They are often picking up on the fact that you seem like you don’t know what you are doing or that you are not confident and this is perceived as an open door to unsolicited advice. It what seems to make their light shine more and yours less. I am not saying not to take feedback and advice. Just be careful it doesn’t overrule your own convictions and judgements. Sometimes these people just have a stronger voice or vision at that current moment in time than you (which brings me onto my next point). The other day I wanted to post something, until I saw another blog with the same idea/subject and it made me want to delete what I had done. I was scared that they had done it first and it would look like I was copying or not as good and everyone would compare. BUT I am different and would do it in my own different way, for better or worse.
2Image by Melissa Castrillon
Right place. Right time There is such of a thing as being in the right place in the right time and feeling like this is truly your moment to shine. All the stars align and click into place and everything works. However that doesn’t mean that getting to that point means its just granted freely. It takes a lot of hard work to get there. Sometimes it takes people a little bit more time to get where they need to be or sometimes its a straight road to success. In my opinion if a situation is right and meant to be then you will get where you need to be headed, of course this takes effort though. Instead of being jealous about others journeys and success, smile with happiness that they are where they need to be and wish them the best of luck. Their right place and time may well not be yours, its a tricky one though when you feel stuck and you see others going full steam ahead. Just trust in your instincts about what is right for you and try to be open to all possibilities. Sometimes different places or clients or employers ask for different type of skills or even personalities. Just because you do not have this (maybe you can learn in the future) does not mean that you are not creative enough or good enough at what you do. The place you are in might be a funny fit and you might not feel comfortable. When this occurs you have to suck it up.
You are you. I AM ME. I have my own style and my own way of translating whats going on in this chaotic head of mine. When I draw something a different line comes out or a different mark on the paper; a different expression. When I speak different words come out. We all have our differences and our own ways of expressing ourselves. Sometimes people will be quick to point out that you are wrong . Sometimes you will be. But sometimes its a case of them not quite getting where you come from and understanding the way you speak and do things. Going back to the above point also sometimes its a case you are in the wrong place and environment for you to fully flourish or at least be understood. It doesn’t mean that you are doing anything bad its just quite simply a case of not the right fit and thats ok. Just keep being you and trust in that you know whats best for you and have confidence to SHINE.

Different isn’t a bad thing. With a different voice/style/look and its not competition but a sharing love for the same thing told in a different way. I guess thats what I want to say, its not always better but just different and that should be celebrated. Stop trying to mold yourself to something you are never going to be. A lot of the time I get sad when I see friends, who I feel are as good as I am (maybe with more experience and good at slightly different things) and I feel bad that I am not like that or as neat or as good as type. But I am good and specialise in my own things. I also get lost on pinterest and other blogs and let that dilute what I want to say and then come away with feeling like what I am doing is shit or not on trend. Then I start to feel bad that others are better, more out there etc. I do this also at work when my colleagues get a promotion or a get a recognition. I sometimes get annoyed that I am essentially doing the same work but WHY NOT ME. Its just that I may work in a different way or voice how good I am differently. Or simply enough that I am a little bit too different and might not be what is required in such a big machine. This also is ok. Its ok to be yourself, especially when celebrating it.Also you are not going to be everyones cup of tea, thats ok too. Some people will seemingly get on with every one and everything. Some people will be given special treatment because they are favoured or fit better. This is also ok, as mentioned above they are in the right place at the right time with the right person.
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L: Here R: Here

You are not the only one. Its also good to remember we are all our own islands and that every body feels these things to a certain extent. Some people are better at showing or acting on it than others. Everyone has their comfort zones and good things as well as things that make people feel uncomfortable. A lot of the time, in my experience, peoples bad attitudes towards you is because they often have their own shiz to deal with and just don’t see past their noses enough to see you wading through yours. Also there is a fine line between feedback and criticism. Constant feedback like you should do this better, you should be like this etc. Its all well and good when well intended but can start to grate on you when it is just a one up to make the other feel better than thou. Take it all with a pinch of salt and be gracious but stick to your instincts. Especially when its personal work (so subjective!) its all about taste and things. Haters gonna hate yo.

Nurture yourself and focus on what you need to do. CELEBRATE what you do, what you are good at. Practice what you want to get better at. Stay focus and keep your eyes on the prize and don’t get jealous about what others get as it might turn out its not what you really wanted anyway. Keep going and honing your craft and work on ways that you can get to where you know you can be. Don’t get down about what you don’t have at the moment and truly start to count your lucky stars on what you do have. Keep going and don’t let your self get blocked and don’t let others (good or bad things) stop you in your path because after all it is your path.
5Doggies Here
Anyway I need to get away from negativity that leaves me feeling uninspired, and start thinking about why we are creative. I believe that creativity should be something shared and not looked on as a competitive sport. There are far too many design wankers out there who feel the need to out kern each other (get it?!) and also far too much ego attached to it all. It should be nourished, shared, enjoyed and cherished. It is not some weird sport where you have to unpeg each other to survive. There is room for everyone.

One thought on “On comparing yourself creatively…

  1. I think we are all guilty of doing it, especially when confronted with the constant curated social media streams that we are bombarded with! It’s hard not to feel jealous of other peoples success or compare yourself to others.
    The older I get, I panic – have I done enough at my age? I see what other people have achieved by my age and what other people my age earn, and think oh shit! But… like you said, we all take different paths and I should be pleased at what I have achieved! I try not to think about it at all to be honest, it’s time consuming and a waste of energy. Those paths are not worth going down – energy is better spent creating your own life and doing your own work. If you are not happy, the only person who can change things is yourself at the end of the day and that’s quite an empowering thing to remember!

    X

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