Don’t Compare Your Journey To Someone Else’s… But DO Track Your Own
My last blog post seems to have resonated with a lot of you. And that’s good… well, it’s not. I wrote about being down on myself. About feeling stuck. About not being quite where I wanted to be and how that’s just an awful feeling. Apparently a lot of you are on the same bus. So let’s get off. No one wants to stay on the pity line AND best of all? We don’t have to.
Social media is a necessary evil in my world and it may very well be one in yours too. Sure, I can keep in touch with friends and make new friends. I’ve sold my work and I’ve also acquired new collectors through social media.
But those other artists?
The ones I follow that are becoming super well known (they deserve every bit of it)…
The ones that post their fancy dinners and drinks (I don’t even know when I last had a fancy dinner out)…
The ones that post their zany, interesting lives…
They are sucking my joy.
Well they’re not really sucking my joy: I’m doing THAT to myself.
Comparison is a Joy Thief.
Sometimes I look at others in my field, living the life I want and I get so upset with myself. I think, ”Why can’t I be like that?”
”Why isn’t my life fun and carefree and zany and quirky and awesome?”
”Why am I on the fucking struggle bus and everyone else is enjoying the party?”
Coaching has been so helpful.
Every week I show up for my artist coaching sessions and one of the many things I’ve learned (there’s been a lot of good lessons) is that comparing ourselves to others is FUCKED UP. First off, I have no clue where these people started or where they’re at in their journey. And chances are if I found them on Instagram, they’re much, much, much further in their journey than I am. I found them on Instagram because they’re not at the beginning of their journey… which is where I’m at. How do I compare my newbie self to someone that has been running this game for 10+ years?
Well I did. And sometimes I still do. And it SUCKS.
I got into painting by painting rocks. I started by painting turtles and toasters and little cacti on rocks and my first ones? Not good. I mean… like bad even. Amateur… because they were and so was I. And that is fine. EVERYONE starts somewhere.
Last week I finished up two pet rock portraits. I joke around about them being a “secret menu item”, I don’t do them much any more, they’re not listed on my website but if you know, you know and I’ll create a “pet rock” for you.
My very good friend was over. We often “art” together and she looked at my finished rock. “WOW, that’s SO good!” She’s been ”arting” with me since I started painting rocks. “Do you ever look back at where you started and compare it to what you’re doing now? Because I feel like that’s got to be so cool to see how far you’ve come.”
I grabbed my phone and scrolled back… and back… and back. I went back six years to when I first started painting rocks. I looked at what I created back then. I showed her my phone. She looked at the awful “turtle” I had painted and then at my newest creation, “Wow! Imagine where you’re going to be in another six years?!”
Comparing yourself to others is awful. Imagine you decide to take up jogging. You get out there, get about a half a block, you’re pretty sure you’re about to die… your thighs are jiggling, your shorts are riding up your ass, you’re sweating out of places you didn’t even think you could sweat and then some teeny tiny, ninja warrior looking princess effortlessly passes you. She’s not jiggling, she’s not sweating, and you’re pretty certain her shorts aren’t wedged into her ass.
“This just isn’t for you,” you think. Who are you kidding? You’re not a runner. You’re not in shape. You’ve never been not jiggly, you’ve never been fast. Might as well quit while you’re ahead.
What if instead of comparing yourself to jogger Barbie you documented your own journey?
What if you kept track of your own times and your own distance, the way your body felt after exercise?
Comparing yourself to anyone but yourself is a sure fire way to give up, to get down on yourself, to criticize and drag yourself down. Don’t do it!
Comparing yourself to yourself though?
There’s power in seeing where you’ve come from. There’s confidence in seeing how much you’ve grown. There’s joy in self improvement. There’s easy acceptance, self love, and a “wow, I kick ass” energy in getting better.
Want to get unstuck?
Go back. Take a look at where you started. Maybe that’s a picture, maybe it’s a number, maybe that’s a first job… whatever, remind yourself of where you began. If you’re just beginning something, document whatever it is you want to do, whatever it is you want to improve upon and then do it.
And then when jogger Barbie passes you AGAIN, and you feel like throwing in the towel and tossing your new jogging shoes off the nearest bridge go back and look at how far YOU have come. That’s how you unstick yourself. That’s how you open yourself up to YOUR possibilities. That’s how you keep going. That’s how you get better. Blinders on.
It’s your journey, so don’t ever compare yourself to someone else… let their success be
”what’s possible for you” and nothing else… after all, we all start somewhere and man have you come a long way… Keep going. You got this. I’m totally rooting for you.