I’ve lectured on it before. Compare-and-Despair-ism.
Don’t do it. It’s a zero-sum game you can never win.
You’re comparing your dress rehearsal to everyone else’s opening night, and when you do that you’re always going to be cast as the ugly duckling.
Put down those magazines that trade in on people’s insecurities and create comparisons. Stop going to websites whose job is to make everyone else’s achievements look so glamorous.
The truth about creating and getting anything done is that it’s work. It’s not glamorous. In any business. It’s work!
Frances Anderton, the host of KCRW’s DnA recently interviewed the filmmaker, Frédéric Tcheng about his new movie, Dior and I. Mr Tcheng’s film follows Raf Simons as he becomes the new creative director at Christian Dior.
Mr. Tcheng asked the workers in the atelier what they thought of the new designer. Most of them didn’t know who he was.
“They’re not following fashion in that way,” Mr. Tcheng says. “They’re doing the work and are knowledgeable about what the craft is, but they don’t follow the celebrities of fashion and who is who and who does what . . . and it’s interesting in comparison to this image of celebrity culture we live in.”
Just do your work.
Stop comparing yourself to other people’s work. Everyone’s work is valid. It’s like comparing a cello to a tuba. They both make beautiful music, together or separately. They’re both musical. Neither is better.
Matthew Weiner (creator of Mad Men) says that, “The greatest regret I have is that, early in my career, I showed myself such cruelty for not having accomplished anything significant. I spent so much time trying to write, but was paralyzed by how behind I felt.”
Everyone has their own process. Everyone has their own journey. To punish yourself for where you are today because other people seem to have “made it” way ahead of you is a denigration of self. And simply dishonors where you are.
Social science shows that the more we compare ourselves to others the worst our self-esteem is. And this has to do with appearance-related comparisons, success-level comparisons, how we perceive ourselves, and our own self-worth.
But all of these comparisons are illusory anyway because you don’t see the struggle in the finished product. You just see the finished product.
All the struggles, disappointments, obstacles, heartaches, challenges, setbacks, rejections, failures, bad ideas, and false starts are edited out.
You’re comparing your entire creative life continuum to a 2-hour movie, or puff-celebrity-piece interview, or TV show or some other pop-culture project that had all of the stuff that almost prevented it from getting made – edited out!
You’re not seeing that story.
You’re seeing the story that wants to be presented to the public.
So stop comparing your entire creative journey to someone else’s editorialized story.
Celebrate your life. Without the edits. Because the full story is always more fulfilling than the abbreviated one.