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.
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,