We have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. Our failures to their successes. There is the adage that what we see is only the tip of the iceberg. We see overnight success, but never the years of unrecognized work that went in before that “overnight”.
I think we tend to do this a lot in creative work as it is a subjective world: there is no right, or wrong way. We watch, on various social media platforms, illustrators work and when we look down at our own illustrations, they are different. And by default, theirs is “right” and ours is “wrong”. This comparison stunts so many in their journey. The truth of it is that someone is probably comparing themselves to you and considering themselves not good enough.
I used to paint and draw a lot. I sold a few paintings and exhibited in several shows in the region. When I went back to school my focus shifted and I found my love of words again. I have always enjoyed watching illustrators and artists work, I subscribe to several YouTube channels and can get lost in their talk about paper, pens, and ink.
I had this idea when I started school again. A combining of my love of art and words. Through the years, though, this idea got lost. My ability to draw became rusty, and when I would pick up the pencil it didn’t last long; the results were less than desirable.
It is great to draw inspiration from others, to learn from them, but don’t compare your situation to theirs. Don’t compare your work to theirs. Yours should be different, it should be unique. It is hard to push through that boundary sometimes. But there is something fulfilling in it. You don’t have to show your work to anyone else; it can be something just for you, something that makes you feel good and releases some of the day’s tension.
There is so much focus on money and professional success that sometimes we forget about the other things we love, the things that probably won’t contribute to our lives in that way but that will in others.
Creative work can be hard, but it is a labour of love. From the start of my degree in English I heard all the sayings about not being able to find work. But there are so many opportunities out there. They may be difficult to find, and even harder to land, but they are there. It is a matter of perseverance, it will (probably) take longer than you want, there will be obstacles that you didn’t anticipate, and you may work a job alongside the pursuit of the dream. But, if you are able to land that job you love, the one that seemed to far out of reach, it will have been worth it in the end.
Your creative work, just like your journey, is going to look different from everyone else’s. Regardless of your pursuit, set some time aside to work on the things that are a passion project because these will keep you refreshed and help to hold you up when the pursuit feels impossible.
Deanna Roney is an AU graduate who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at https://deannaroney.wordpress.com/