My jealous neck
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I don’t know who said it and I’m not sure the Internet does either, but my friends at Vinca put these brilliant words on a necklace for me because
they know I’m a insecure and jealous turd of a blog post I wrote regarding 10 Different Ways for Artists to Fight Doubt and Insecurity.
In the post, I listed “stop comparing yourself to others” in ten variations. That’s all you really need to remember to fight artistic doubt and insecurity. Oh, and that whiskey will get you through the cold months (and I don’t mean winter).
In the insta-fame society we now live in, it can be very difficult not to compare yourself to others. When hard-working musicians see talentless teenagers make the news rounds because of their atrocious Youtube hit, feelings of confusion and denial may blister. When driven writers see 12 year-old fashion bloggers inking multimillion dollar contracts with fashion lines, the want to drink oneself into oblivion may take over.
I would be lying if I said I don’t compare myself to others.
When a peer achieves a certain amount of success or fame, I have to keep any resentful thoughts in check. Sadly, I have to fight even harder if that person is a woman. I have a long and hard talk with myself as to why I’m feeling envious; when I’m envious of another woman, the large and hairy-armpitted feminist side of me bitch-slaps the jealous side of me. I tell myself that instead of being envious, I should be thrilled for them- they’ve worked long and hard to achieve such success or fame (unless they’re an insta-celebrity, then we probably shouldn’t bother with thoughts of jealousy). Soon enough the positive thoughts trump the nasty ol’ negative ones and I can move forward feeling excited for my peer.
It’s difficult for me to admit the above proclamation because it is a butt-ugly trait. It’s a trait that should not exist, but for many of us, it is the quirk that keeps us from giving up. Though it would be ideal if all artists solely created for the sake of creating, the truth of the matter is, a healthy competition is well, healthy. Where would sports be without it?
Just remember: keep that competitive side in check. No stepping on toes, no bad-mouthing and no stewing over who got what. Keep those ugly thoughts at bay. Your peers work just as hard as you do, right? So why don’t they deserve their moment to shine? Maybe one day that will happen for you, and if it doesn’t…well, just keep trying. That’s the only thing you really can do, right? (Or sleep with a successful film producer/art gallery owner/music producer, but you’re going to feel pretty icky doing that.) I understand and personally relate to the thought that we’re temporary creatures, so why not create permanent work? Not achieving success at a young age can knock the wind right out of your sails, but you just can’t give up.
DO YOU HEAR ME, CHILD?!
Here, read this story I wrote about late bloomers. If knowing that Bryan Cranston didn’t achieve fame until the age of 44 doesn’t make you feel better, then you’re shit out of luck.
Regardless of the fact that being a envious and resentful artist makes you look like one giant unsexy boob, it will hinder your productivity as well. As mentioned earlier, a little bit of competition is good, but constantly trolling your social media profiles, fixating on the fame and success of peers and then letting insecurity fester in your brain like a case of Mad Cow Disease will get you nowhere. If limiting your time looking at social media feeds is what you have to do, then do it. If skipping over the latest Forbes article about the top twenty billionaires under the age of 30 is what you have to do, then ignore that shit. Comparing yourself to others and subsequently feeling insecure about your talents is the last thing your art needs. Feel proud of the work you do and know that one day your moment to shine will come. You might not end up being as famous as Miley Cyrus, but let me ask you: do you really want to be Miley Cyrus?
Of course, those of us who are in fact, “giant unsexy boobs” (for other reasons) have to work with that handicap and worse, have to compete (read: compare ourselves) with you.
Even so, I agree that competition can be a good thing, so what should I work on first, the giant part, the unsexy part, or the boob part?…assuming the boob wants to change.
Oh man, this is so, so, true. I’ve definitely been guilty in the past of getting wrapped up in comparing myself to peers. Once I let go of that I became way more productive. The necklace is gorgeous!
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Love the message! I think I, and many others, could use this in many areas of life. I’m about to turn forty and I’m scared to death that I’m going to have to make a sex tape just to get ahead 😉
Alain de Botton touches on a similar subject in his TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success.html
Your worst enemy is you and you have fight the negative mess. BEAUTIFULLY said.