I may have a small personal universe, but it is currently a busy one. I have mentioned before that I was lucky enough to go to school with some super-duper talented people and I keep track of them either through Facebook or by following their blogs. Following all of them is truly an inspiration and a joy, but I have to watch out for falling into a comparison trap. Here is a recap of a few things my friends have been up to in the last month:
Nicholas Jackson got a chance to teach a workshop on illustration. If anyone in this world is qualified to teach that class, it is him. He’s been in National Geographic for goodness sake! What a lucky bunch of people to learn from him.
Abigail Tjaden just did a really fun spin on something simple — paper airplanes. She really knows how to transform a space through installation art. Wish I could’ve been there.
Carly Swenson has an upcoming show that is actually only a few hours from where I live. I may be able to make it. It is sure to be a wonderful show full of really fun mixed media pieces.
Sweet stuff, right? But it’s easy to see how I could be critical of what I am getting done and how I am spending my own time. It happens to everyone. It’s easy to think that other people are doing bigger, better and more influential things, especially when we are so constantly bombarded by information. But the number one thing to remember is that this torrent of information is in reality a very, very small sliver of other people’s lives. They’re generally not sharing that they spent an hour cleaning the bathroom or that they have been working on a specific piece of art for months on end. When all you see is the end product, it’s easy to perceive your own efforts as less than up to par.
So what to do? Well, once you take a step back and remember that you are only witnessing one second in an entire lifetime, you reassess. Remember your strengths and accomplishments and move forward. No one else can figure out what is right for you and what you can accomplish, only you can do that. For example, my friend Nicholas is a professional artist and being creative is his job. So when I see all of his wonderful work, I don’t think of it as “Oh, he’s so far ahead of me”. I remember he is very talented and driven is making a living with his gifts. The same type of logic applies to all other artists I see. They have different work structures, families and responsibilities that affect how they work and what they create. Even without knowing what all those are, it’s a good reminder to anyone to not forget those outside factors are huge.
So when you find yourself getting bogged down by comparisons with others, take a step back. Remember that if you have achieved near balance in your life and you are creating things that make you feel happy and fulfilled, you are on the right path for you.