How To Become A Confident Creative (and Stop Comparing Yourself To Others)

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Want to know what scares the living bejeezus out of us?

It’s 2045 and we’re 54 years old. We each have our own families, and things are hectic.

Kids are getting older and starting their own lives, we’ve invested our mid-years to being corporate drones and became what we loathed most—“weekenders.” People who work tirelessly during the weekday to only “live” and do what they love on the weekends. Something we promised ourselves we would NEVER be.

We had dreams…dreams of taking our blog to the next level, to being keynote speakers at colleges across the country, to traveling internationally and providing aid to women’s education, environmental change, hunger and poverty, hosting our own events and creating a fashion/jewelry line that is both sustainable and meaningful, writing books, and creating art. 

We had dreams to leave our mark.

We sure did have dreams.

But then it all stopped. Flat cold. Just like that.

Not because we wanted to. Not because we were told to.

But because we thought we weren’t good enough, comparing our Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.

The worst part of it all?

Life went on, people came and went, started their own blogs and businesses, wrote books and gave TED talks, traveled to exotic places, and we fell through the cracks. Renaissance Swag was merely a distant memory. And no one cared about what we once started at 23.

No one even noticed.

So there we are getting old and wrinkly (not too wrinkly we hope) feeling empty inside, as we pick up our local newspaper or maybe what’s to be our 3D tablet seeing people creating their legacy—writing and sharing their truths.

Why settle? What happened?

Doesn’t that question give you the heebie-jeebies?

It does to us.

There is something deeply engrained in all of us, a voice within that inspires us to want to create the change we want to see in the world and impact others in a positive way through our motivation and guidance. No matter the means, all of us want to walk away from this experience on earth knowing we made a difference, however so slight.

So what stops us in our tracks of listening to that fire in the belly?

Cause let’s be real, there was a time you felt invigorated. Alive. Brimming with energy.

Morning, noon and night, all you could think about was your creative pursuit and ideas came easily. Being focused was NOT an issue.

In fact, you were probably so engrossed in the process that you often (more times that you’d care to admit), pretended to pay attention during class or a meeting yet mentally were drafting an outline for your novel’s next chapter, your next blog post, or visualizing your new painting or hearing your newest song.

Yep, inspiration was palpable and all around you.

Until…

It wasn’t anymore.

So “what happened?” you say. Well, you began reading other people’s stories, watching countless YouTube videos, listening to the greats and perusing through the museums where the best of the best reside.

Getting caught up in the comparison game is easy when you feel like so many people are writing and conversing about the same topic as you. I mean, c’mon, how over-saturated is the lifestyle/personal development blogging industry 😛

You started benchmarking your watercolors with Monet’s Waterlilies, your words with Hemmingway, your innovation with Steve Jobs, and on and on and on…

 

The result: you stopped.

 

Just like we did in our worst nightmare.

But as Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.”

Just when we begin to get into the groove of our own creative, mental, and physical practice, the comparison gremlin comes out to destroy all your warm and fuzzy feelings.

Like putting the finishing touches on a new photo on Instagram and you feel crest-fallen when comparing your social media stats to another photography account that started after you.

Or you’ve finally been courageous enough to hit publish on your recent poetry submission and you notice that a fellow writer was featured in several high-profile press outlets. Womp womp womp.

Or maybe you’re moving through a vinyasa flow at your yoga studio and can finally do a proper chaturanga but get a glimpse at the biddy next to you who can twist like a freaking pretzel. That arrogant b*tch! Okay, okay, that might have been a bit harsh, but don’t act like it’s never crossed your mind too.

These instances aren’t even plagued with pangs of jealously. Nope. They are plagued with the judgement we place on our own self after we’ve compared our progress to someone else’s.

In reality, we have NO idea how long it took that person to get to where they are today. And no one really knows your personal journey either. You could just be having a bad day or it could be something more serious like losing your job or God-forbid a loved one. At some point when we become adults, we realize that people put up façades to hide behind the truth, and we really just don’t know the pains and struggles they go through. 

So how do you combat this comparison game?

Shift your perspective. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a day and never assume. If you are so curious about how they can twist like a pretzel, publish their poetry, and gain authentic followers on social media, just ask them.

Use better markers for success. If you can go to sleep at night and say you are even 1% better in your personal character, ability to connect, prioritize, slow down, speed up, and take action…THIS is how you compare. To your “last at bat.” To yourself. Not to anyone else.

Bottom line:  Don’t let your mind get in the way from what you know deep down will be your legacy. Let your heart lead the way instead.

Putting yourself out there is no easy task, trust us, we know, but when you begin feeling tempted to quit, it may not be the sign you think it means.

While some people believe that struggle and obstacles are proof that an idea is plain dumb, we’re firm believers that the more resistance you have, the more guts you need to actually do it.

If you’re a beginner, you’re going to make mistakes. Part of life.

The good news?

You’re on the right track when you want to give up. Mind-blowing, huh?

The indication of pain and loss means that you care deeply about what it is you are doing. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t have the back and forth battle in your head, “Should I do it? Should I not do it? Should I stay? Should I quit? Should I start? Should I stop?”

Here are 3 lessons we’ve learned about the creative process so far:

Lesson #1: Show up.

Every. Single. Day. This is work. Inspiration does not strike without motion. Ideas are a product of taking action and putting words to paper and paint to canvas.

Lesson #2: Learn from the greats, but do not compare yourself to them.

There’s a reason bodies of work become classics and certain artists are legendary, but it’s not always for the reasons you’d think. Your work is never guaranteed to become world famous. You are in total control of it becoming world-class, however. Benchmark your success based on your personal progress, not other’s work.

Lesson #3: Create without attachment.

Not every idea will be recognized or received. Counterintuitively, it’s usually the work we consider rubbish but publish anyway that is surprisingly the most shared and cited. Produce art because it needs to come out of you or you need practice. Do not produce art to become famous or loved.

So, go forth and do you, not tomorrow, not when you “have time,” but right now.

Your creations will thank you.

And so will we.

With sass and class,

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About Alex and Kat

We love mixing the old with the new, where soul meets sass! Bridging today’s discoveries with classical wisdom: that is our philosophy. As students of health, self-mastery and mindfulness, we're recording our personal wellness journey and delivering you the best of our findings. Want to come along? Let’s connect! ;-}

60 comments on “How To Become A Confident Creative (and Stop Comparing Yourself To Others)

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  8. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want?HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  9. Thank you for this article. Wow, I really needed this. For nearly a decade now, since my childhood, this story about a fantasy world has been in my mind, and I am embarrassed to say comparison, among other things, has held me back exponentially. I was always worried that it wouldn’t be good enough, my creative idea wasn’t good enough, and that I was never ready, and now today, I have little to no progress done. This article reminded me of the urgent yearn in me to share my story with the world, and I should get the tough going when the going gets tough. Once again, thank you.

    • wow! Thank YOU! We really appreciate you sharing your experience with us. We hope that you will share your story with the world because we believe in you and know you can do it! We tend to be our own worst critics, and trust us, we know how hard it is to sometimes start, but the feeling afterwards once you commit is beyond priceless. We are so thankful this post was able to help you, even just a little and we can’t wait to hear more of your experiences and see you creativity come to life! xo Kat & Alex 🙂

  10. You already know I am all about this post, love it! I think everyone needs the reminder to create without attachment, even people doing things not typically considered creative i.e art/music. I think its the key to feeling free. A friend of mine who taught kids for a while commented that past a certain age, we all seem stifled by the pressure to produce something of value where as kids just PLAY and create along the way with no fear of judgement because well..they’re just having fun. Cheers to that!

    • Not sure who said it better, Buddha or Asha? You’re absolutely write that releasing attachment is the key to feeling free (aka the end of suffering). Perhaps that’s why children are usually so happy, they create for the sake of creating without the ulterior motives of ego and money. Maybe this is a sign we should all attend a wine and paint class? ;-}

  11. Thank you ladies so much for this reminder! In a time where there is so much change and transformation in my world, I feel overwhelmed with where I want to be and how I am going to get there that I avoid looking at the root of where my frustration/discomfort/anxiety arises. This reminder to keep trudging along through the emotion muck and break those emotional barriers is so helpful. Sometimes our vision seems too big and because I don’t know which angle to approach it first, I avoid taking the necessary time to really get myself together and prepared. In my opinion, the most challenging process is just feeling “ready” during these processes when we are trying to work on ourselves. Bravo for continuing with your passion in helping others, and thank you for your help in breaking it all down so it is easier to take on with a confident heart.

    • We love that you brought up the “root” cause of emotions. When we take a moment to sit still with the fear, anxiety, etc (even though it’s painfully uncomfortable) we’re able to grasp a clearer picture of why we’re struggling. You mentioned your big vision –which is AWESOME- and consider this the next time you don’t feel “ready”: we overestimate how much we can do in a day and underestimate how much we can do in a year. The little stuff adds up! We’ll never truly be “ready” so go out there and take the step forward (no matter how small it is). Mucho love for you <3

  12. This is something that I truly believe that every single person struggles with at one point or another in their lives. I think that everyone should read this post. Once you stop comparing yourself to others, you will relish at how free you feel. Free of guilt. Free of disappointment. Free of pressure. You will have more time to find out who YOU are. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Hey Kristen,

      Thank YOU for sharing your thoughts on this matter. You hit the nail right on the head. “Free of guilt. Free of disappointment. Free of pressure.” LOVE this! We will definitely remember these inspirational words. Keep on keepin’ on. Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts in the future too 🙂

      xo Kat and Alex

  13. Hey Ladies,
    I love the work you two do. You always give such a rich and inspired perspective on truly pertinent subjects. Being of the younger generation, I appreciate the way you simply say how you feel, especially when it’s about something like this, the future. The future brings with it so much anxiety, uncertainty, and fear, and through your posts, you convey a strong sense of camaraderie and honest support. I’m so glad you two keep up with your posts and videos! You are an inspiration to us all, and should never stop creating. The world needs this kind of fundamental thinking again. Thank you so much for doing what you do!
    All the Best!

    • Hey Ryan ,
      Thank you kindly for commenting. You’re so right – the future sure is daunting, so it’s important we have faith in the journey and focus on becoming the best version of ourselves that we can be. We are so thrilled that you enjoy our posts and videos and would love to hear your thoughts about any topics you would like to hear more about!

      What’s your biggest frustration when it comes to your future right now?

      With sass and class,

      Kat & Alex xo

  14. Growing up with two beautiful and talented sisters, my inspirational and brilliant father would always recite 2 Corinthians 10:12 in our household : those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise. He was aware of the destruction that comparison brings, and he wanted us to be the best versions of ourselves and no one else. He would tell us not to compare ourselves among each other nor among others outside of the family. It is a lesson that needs to be more diffused, and I thank you both for not underestimating its importance. You two really know which life lessons and bits of advice are the most important. I wish we could do a global blast of your website to ascertain that everyone sees it!!! I know everyone would be hooked! Continue doing exactly what it is that you do!

    • Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Andréa. We love the parallel to the Corinthian verses. It truly is important to focus our attention on our own life and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing–challenging at times, we know, but we feel there is a significant conversation needed to be had on this topic. We see too many people belittling themselves because they’ve compared who they are to a friend or a colleague. So happy to have you involved in this conversation. Much love from your curly haired gals, Kat & Alex xo

  15. Let me begin by saying I bookmarked this article for when I needed some mental motivation. We all tend to look around and not realize how fast life passes us by. You two are wise way beyond your years. The knowledge and advice that you share to your readers truly hits at the core of what we are all searching for. Everyone needs some guidance to help find their path. In a world where there is so much negativity around us, I am glad that this world has the two of you to help those of us get back to the basics. Thanks for helping me always stay present.

    • That’s awesome, Leonida! So honored to be bookmarked on your computer and in your life. We are trying to get back to the basics ourselves, so we are all in this together! Happy to have you along for the ride. Thank you for sharing your words. xo Kat & Alex

  16. Ladies, this is my favorite post yet! I found it to be so honest and raw. Perhaps it’s because you managed to write exactly what I’ve been feeling too, and what I’m sure so many other people our age are feeling right now… daunted by the possibility of never actually accomplishing our dreams. You’ve really lifted my spirits, and I know the spirits of others as well. It may only be your Chapter 1, but look at how far you’ve already come. You’re both ALREADY such an inspiration… I can only imagine what you’ll accomplish by the time you reach Chapter 20! So without comparing yourself to anyone else because YOU are unique… keep being you, keep writing, and keep doing exactly what you are doing. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you… I know it’s a bright one!

    • Wow! We cannot thank you enough for these incredible words. We believe in you, don’t stop like we did and continue to push through. We promise, it gets better through time! Sending you our best vibes! 🙂 xo

  17. I absolutely loved this post! You girls have really touched on a topic that I believe a lot of people, particularly the younger generations that are striving for success and accomplishments in their fields, can relate to. I know I can! Thank you for giving such thoughtful and wise insight, and continue to do so as often as possible! 😉

    • So glad to hear this, Christina! There’s something about legacy that rattles our cores and there is definitely a place for each and every one of us . Wishing you nothing but the best in all your creative pursuits! xo Kat & Alex

  18. Hi girls so happy to see & hear you again!!! Love connecting with you through your videos. Please, please, please, do not stop inspiring! The world needs more Renaissance Swag!!!! Do not lose your passion of why you both started this journey! People are connecting, reading, & watching you–they just need to learn to reach out!!! Love your posts!!! Keep them coming!

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