Could we talk for a bit about comparisons? Oranges to apples, people to people. We are trained from childhood to evaluate things and compare them every day. The way we look at two kinds of phones and decide which one is better, the way we look at toys and decide which one is better, games, food, vehicles, schools. Almost everything in our lives is a decision we have to make. We choose between two things. We choose our president, what kind of jobs we seek, we choose what kind of place to live and what to eat. All of these things revolve around the simple decision of choosing which we prefer.
We have to compare and establish the good and bad about everything in our lives, and so it’s going to sound fairly shallow of me to tell you not to do that when we look at one another.
It’s hard to keep from comparing yourself to someone else. I compare my blog to everyone else’s, I compare my work as a boyfriend to all the men in my life. I compare my writing to giants who’ve come before me and done more than me.
It really drags me through the mud.
But it’s a habit I’m trying to break.
It’s difficult to do the things I do, and especially difficult to do them well. Between writing and graphic design and all the other things I dip my toes in, I am face to face with amazing competition every day. All of my interests are gilded by these heroes of the art and I seek to work out my own style and way of making it through, but it’s difficult to do so without getting down on myself because I’m not as good as xxxxxxxx.
We all suffer the same curse in different quantities because we all compare ourselves to others. It could be our looks or our intelligence or our talent, and we look to these others and they make it look so easy. Or they’re getting so much more attention, or they’re doing it better than we have a hope to.
One of the most common things I hear in my field is to keep from comparing my art to someone else’s, but how can the world expect me to do that when all my life I must compare everything to everything else? When I’ve been bred and raised to be able to make decisions between the better of two+ things, how can we train ourselves to stop comparing ourselves to others and take us for what we are?
Another hot topic, especially today, is that we should never settle. We should never let our bar slide down a couple notches, not for a man or woman, not for a job, not for anything that is beneath us.
But I’ve got a piece of hard life to swallow.
If you are anything like me, you don’t meet your own standards for yourself.
That’s not disparaging, that’s just factual. Using myself as an example, I’ve been struggling this week, a lot, with the quality of my content and the story I’m telling, I’ve been battling inside because I lose sight of the bigger picture and the message behind what I try to tell. When I weave a story, each installment might not have some grand lesson to learn or something to teach, but it’s all a part of a much greater story I’m telling. A story that no one has told yet, and I get caught up in the little messages that I want to send. I share my thoughts on this blog weekly, and I know that some topics land and make some noise, others are just nothing and they hit the wall flat and no one seems to care, and that’s okay. It’s all a part of the journey.
I’ve had to settle in a lot of ways, that isn’t to say that I’m not always trying to improve. I am always improving and making leaps to get to the next level. It’s a matter of settling for the best I can offer right now.
See, you shouldn’t permanently settle for anything. You shouldn’t accept what you do or have as the best it gets, you should work on yourself for better things every day. I’ve long held the belief that if I’m not working on bettering myself every day, that I am wasting my time. So every day I learn something new, I live a new experience, I create a new story inside of me and I grow and learn and change.
I never settle for long.
I don’t think you should, either. Because we live in a myriad of juxtapositions. The things we do are counterbalanced by the things we see. Despite growing up and knowing that we must compare everything to everything else, we should learn that we are exempt from that if only for a while. If you take the work I’ve made and compare it to J.K. Rowling, you’ll likely choose Rowling over mine, because I haven’t been doing it for long, I haven’t been working as hard. The technical aspects of our writing included, she has had much more experience than I have, and that’s something that I understand as a creator. There will always be more talented people than myself, but that doesn’t mean they have more passion or more drive. It doesn’t mean their talent is somehow better than mine. We write different things, and all I can do right now is my best. It took a long time for our favorite authors or musicians or cooks to reach the level that they are at today. It took a lot of work, and it took each of them understanding that they had a lot to learn, a long way to go, and they had to settle every so often for the best they could do at the time.
Then they did something better.
You and I are just like that.
Compare everything you need to, but don’t compare yourself to anyone.
Settle for nothing, except for the best you have today.
Make it all better tomorrow.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to spend with me. I appreciate every moment of this.
Do you have a project you’re working on? Anything that is really dragging you down? My suggestion would be to keep working on it. Don’t give up. Don’t stop. You are the only artist in the world who makes art like you do. Don’t let up.
What ways can you think of to compare your work to others a bit less? Do you have an inspired vision for something? Let’s talk about it.
If you want to stay up to date with anything regarding Salt + Iron, my writing or the blog, you can find it all on the website. Make sure you check it out.
I’m taking a bit of a slow month before March rolls around. I’ve got a new serial story coming out then. In the meantime, go check out the first installment of the Bad Rituals story I’ll be releasing every week on Thursday!
Categories: Umbral Dawning