I did something today that was Ridiculous and Potentially Destructive to My Art. The same thing that I have seen Kill Creativity in My Artistic Heroes. I fell into the Creative Comparison Sand Trap.
As a musician I have spent the greater part of my life surrounded by creatives. And throughout the journey I have watched some of the most talented, thoughtful and perceptive artists QUIT making art.
They didn’t quit for all the reasons that you might think, financial distress, lack of talent, or work related stress. It didn’t even seem like a combination of these challenges “GOT” them in the end.
More often they were hurdling over all these obstacles with little difficulty. To me, they were bounding over these challenges with such grace, I envied their abilities. I wondered- Was it just harder for me? Was I not as talented? Not Good Enough?
Little did I know I was falling into the sand trap of comparison thinking that kills art and destroys the creative capacities.
The No. 1 Reason I’ve seen artists quit creating was living a Life of Comparisons. The Grass is always Greener Complex. The Eyeore, “why bother” thinking. The idea that someone else is already doing it and doing it better than I could.
Why do we as artists devalue our own artistic voice through comparing our unique journey to another’s? It is impossible to know the gritty intimate details of anyone else’s journey but sometimes we feel like we do because of the mastermind that is the internet.
In this era of social media we are more connected. We can watch each other’s concerts on the other side of the world, read research articles from another country, marvel at the number of gigs colleagues perform. And we can also forget that social media and the internet contains another’s highlight reel.
We easily lose sight of the challenges that others face. As a viewer from afar we see the end result. We miss out on the sleep deprivation, separation from family creativity can often require, and most other negative moments. We are not a first person witness.
And this can create Envy because we are in a gallery- viewing from a distance with our own wishes for our art in our heart.
The reality is that I don’t know a single artist that hasn’t compared themselves to another. Critics make a living off of this outdated mode of insecurity creating based thinking. Auditions foster this as a part of the winning a job goal.
The trick is to not get caught in this style of thinking for the longterm. But to Use It for Development and Growth.
When we view with jealousy and envy in our hearts We have the I WANT THAT moment. Desire takes control. And it’s not a bad thing! It’s an Ah-Ha Inspired Moment. A way to know what might have been missing, an unheard artistic longing. It can open our eyes to a place that needs to be investigated deeper.
But then there are the moments when I (like others) am not Strong Enough to view Envy as an opportunity for Growth. And I wallow in the sand trap.
You know the kind of ugly wallowing that requires comfort food and movie marathons. Living in a flurry of distractions and escaping from reality through emotional running away from myself and my art.
Lucky for me I’ve had a support system of friends and family combined with a lot of personal journaling to help me recognize when I fall into this COMPARISON related sand trap.
For me the only way out is to lasso a tree with a piece of rope to a tree and pull myself out of the mental sand trap. Shift my Thinking one Thought at a Time.
I need to remember my reason for creating- the self discovery, the greater resonance and connection with people, and the release of my own need to control an outcome. When I create I live blissfully in the moment. I let the art move through me and I dance with it. That is the magic. And when I get there, it is EVERYTHING.
And no! When I fall into the mental sand trap none of my friends and family are willing to pull me out. They expect me to pull myself out and dust myself off. It may seem heartless but it has allowed me to grow in new ways and I love them for it. Because picking yourself up is ultimately a personal endeavor.
Don’t get me wrong, they will throw me a Rope to harness the Tree. They will cheer me on along the way, reminding me that I can do it. And they will give me the space I need to heal my own emotional self inflicted jealousy created wounds.
But ultimately Creating is a personal dance with the divine when you let it move through you. And yes, others are dancing their own dance around you. But each person’s dance is unique and magical and worth sharing.
Outside of the sand trap I can watch others perform and be inspired, filled with love and I am grateful for their creative magic. I dance my own unique dance with authenticity. Because I am not trying to be anyone else. My heart isn’t full of envy or jealously in a negative way. It is just me, dancing with the divine through my artistic journey.
Dance your Dance. And I’ve learned that the Peace it Creates within is All that Matters.
And just in case you still feel trapped. Here is my favorite Giraffe in Quick Sand Video, Ever! It always makes me smile and know I am not alone when I struggle. 🙂