One of the biggest creative lessons of my life is something I rarely talk about because a) I am still learning it, and b) I find the extent to which I am still learning it positively embarrassing. This lesson is quite simple on the surface: never compare yourself to others. But, man oh man, putting this little puppy into practice can be a herculean task. When I’m working on big writing projects or mapping out my career plan, without fail I slip into comparing myself with other writers my age or random heroes of the week whom I proceed to stalk online. I know I do this because I want to create amazing works of art/literature and make the most of my precious time, but – while there are plenty of insights to be gleaned from others’ works and career paths – these comparisons become categorically crippling and useless the second I slip into negative thinking (a.k.a, the “I’m a failure because I wasn’t published in The New Yorker at age 20″ mindset). This is to say: looking to other people for inspiration is great, but comparing ourselves with them is futile at best and toxic at worst.
As gloriously unique human beings and/or creative artists, what is going to make our lives and work spectacular is the one-of-a-kind voice, passion, and drive we bring into the world. And, when I think about it this way, I realize what a moot point comparison really is. We all have our own timelines and trajectories, and the most any of us can ever do is work hard, take innovative risks, and boldly celebrate our smallest of victories while resisting comparison. I know I will struggle to truly put this lesson into practice over the days and years to come, but when I slip up I will try to remind myself that the uniqueness of each of our journeys should be marveled at instead of compared…Are the temptations of comparison something you also struggle with in your work or passion projects? Do you have any tricks for shoving comparisons out of your mind? Leave a comment.