Stay On Your Side of the Fence
“Comparison is a killjoy: it will steal every ounce of
contentment in your heart. It will rob you of
perspective and leave you feeling empty.” Kristen
Artists are really good at looking over the fence. Comparing what they have to what some else has. Suffering from the ‘grass is always greener’ mentality. I must admit, I am not immune to feeling this way:
Oh I wish I had written that. Oh I don’t write like that, I’m no good. Oh they got that award, that teaching gig, that production. Why them and not me? What are they doing I’m not? Why is their lawn so beautiful lush and green, while I’m crunching through crab grass? I’m no good, I’m no good…..
On and on it goes.
“If you compare yourself with others, you may
become vain and bitter, for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Max
It becomes a plague in your artistic life to always look elsewhere and compare
yourself to others. The blight grows and grows until we are nothing but a shell. We have no
opinion of our own work, just that it’s not as good as everyone else’s. We have no faith in
our skills. We have nothing. We are nothing.
How is that a way to live? How is that a way to move forward with your art? It’s tiring, and
it’s less than productive. You’re not creating anything new when you compare. It’s a never
“I will not reason and compare: my business is to
create.” William Blake
The only way to fight this need to look sideways, to peer over the fence, to beat everyone to the punch and beat ourselves down, is to do your work. Work makes me so happy, I’m thrilled when I’m writing well, when I can see words marching across the page.
Whenever I get into that mode, when a big ‘woe is me’ threatens the edges, I make a promise to myself: write for five minutes. That’s it. No grand work session. No vaulting mountains. Five minutes of writing and then if I still want to partake in the pity party, I can.
More often than not, I just keep writing.
Besides, it is impossible to be like others and get what they do. Until the scientists figure out how to have the masses thrive with one brain, we all use our own. We think uniquely. We approach life in our own special way. So even if we were given the opportunities of said lush green grass owner, who knows if we’d get the same results.
When we think someone has it better, has more opportunities, is being a better artist than – how do you know they don’t look sideways at you? Maybe they look over their fence and long for your crab grass.
“When you stop comparing what is right here and
now with what you wish were, you can begin to
enjoy what is.” Cheri Huber
So instead of focusing on others and what they do, focus on what you do. Do your work.
Write your play. Dance your dance. Act in the way that you know how to do. Others will
get jobs that you want. Others will succeed. If you look ahead instead of to the left or right, you will move forward.