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A few years ago, my best friend had a roommate who was an incredible artist. This artist always seemed to be working on something amazing and her Instagram, Facebook, and blog were always full of beautiful images of her work, her adventures, and her gorgeous self. She was beautiful, talented, stylish, and she had quite a following, and her work sold.
I was barely selling a thing at the time and she was constantly making prints and packaging paintings to send all over the country to her eager buyers.
And I felt like a loser in comparison. I felt like she was a better artist, a better businesswoman, more interesting, more creative, prettier, and just all around BETTER than me. She was everything I thought I should be, and it hurt.
Why wasn’t my work selling? Why didn’t I have a following like hers? Why didn’t my house look as exotic and interesting, and why did my adventures seem so boring by comparison?
The worst part about all of this was that I didn’t appreciate my own art, business, or creativity because I was too busy comparing it to someone else’s.
Comparison can be a HUGE creative block because it causes us to feel so inadequate that we don’t see the point of creating anything or trying anything new, because it’s not as good as we think it should be.
So what do we do when we’re feeling like crap because we think someone else’s stuff is better?
Remember, we’re all at different levels.
Are you comparing yourself to someone who’s more experienced and who has had more practice?
In my case, this artist was the same age as me, but she’d been selling her work for a lot longer, and she’d been working in her particular style for years while I’d just barely gotten the hang of mine. She had more experience selling, and I was just getting started.
It takes time and practice to get to a certain level of success, and that person you’re comparing yourself to might be at a level you can expect to have in a few years! You probably didn’t see all the first drafts, the failed launches, the empty webinars, or the hours of practice and screw-ups that went into their business. They aren’t better than you, they just might have more experience.
You only see the highlights.
Let me tell you a secret:
Great creators make a lot of crap. Great business owners have failed. A lot.
And when I say crap, I mean stuff that isn’t super marketable or that not many people would like, or stuff the creators probably don’t quite like either.
Trust me, I have TONS of stuff around my studio that will never see the light of day, and even more unfinished writing projects that I will never let anyone read. I’ve released new products that got no response, recorded webinars where I was talking to myself because no one registered.
This is fine, it’s normal, and it’s part of learning and growing. Even masters and professionals have their own dirty laundry pile of botched creations that might become building blocks or practice for stuff they’ll make later on. Every successful business owners could tell stories about their flops and obstacles.
Masters had to screw up and get it wrong a lot to get as good as they are. You might read the completed book, but you didn’t read all the crappy early drafts or watch the writer do endless edits or rewrite scenes and awkward parts. You didn’t see the business owner’s first website or first blog posts.
So don’t compare your “practice” work to their successes, because you aren’t seeing the whole story.
It’s okay to muck it up at first.
Don’t be afraid to be lousy at it.
It’s all experience, and it’s all building blocks for what we’ll create in the future.
We all have our own styles.
Our business won’t look like anyone else’s, and their business won’t look like ours. Their voice, branding, and special way of delivering their message will be totally different from ours. Isn’t that great? When we think about it, how can we really compare our work or be in competition with others when we’re all in a league of our own?
No two people have the exact same experiences, quirks, preferences, and everything that goes into a brand or style, and no two people express themselves in exactly the same way. Two business owners might have the exact same audience and the exact same niche, but they might deliver their message in totally different ways and connect with different people.
That is one of the wonders of art and business, that every expression and every person is totally different, and those differences are to be celebrated!
When you create a business or a piece of creative work, know that your expression is completely unique and your very own, and that you skills are exactly where they need to be right now in order for you to progress. Everything about your art or business right now is perfect, and that there is no comparison for what you are able to do!
We’d love to hear from YOU…
Have you ever compared your business, your art, or yourself to someone else? How did you get through it? Leave your answer in the comments below!