I don’t know about you, but I compare myself to other creatives all the time.
Not once a week. Not once a day. But pretty much any time I see a design that makes me jealous, words that are crafted perfectly, or simply a photograph that was taken without flaw.
How are they so talented, how can he write something so brilliant, how did she capture such a beautiful moment?
Pixel-perfect perfectionism is a thing—and let me tell you, it is incredibly paralyzing when you pair it with imposter syndrome. Especially when you want nothing more than to contribute a body of work that makes an impact on the world.
Over the past few months, I have found myself with more freedom to pursue the things that bring me joy. I spend more time trying to create, and more time spinning my wheels and going nowhere. In some cases, it feels like I’m heading in reverse.
At the same time, it’s ironic that I feel confident, at times, about my craft. After all, I successfully founded a company that withstood a decade of competition and was recently acquired by a tech company. If that’s not the definition of success, I’m not sure what is.
Every night I find myself comparing the work that I do with the work that others do. Every night I feel defeated, and that my journey as an entrepreneur happened as a result of luck, rather than out of skill. Every day of my life I want to throw in the creative towel. And every day of my life I convince myself not to.
Maybe this is you. And you can relate. And if that’s the case, I want you to understand one very important truth: You are not alone.
One thing I have learned over the years is that these feelings come and go—and that these ebbs and flows of self-doubt and confidence are more “normal” than they are “not normal.”
Some of my most meaningful work comes out of these seasons, so I choose to press forward and to keep going. After all, are there any other options?
Overcoming Self Doubt
One of the people I look up to (and often envy) is Marie Forleo. Another is Seth Godin. They recently teamed up in a video interview, and as expected, it’s filled with brilliance. I highly encourage you to find 30 minutes to watch it—whether you are a creative or not.
In the interview, they discuss “callings” and “passions,” to which Seth says:
“If you’re waiting for that perfect horse on that carousel to come around, you’ve missed 3, 4, 5, 7 cycles while you were waiting. All of the horses are just as good. It’s the same carousel. Just get on the damn horse.”
He goes on to say:
“We wait for things to calm down, we wait for it to be the right moment, but this is the right moment.”
I encourage you to do yourself a favor and follow the Nike adage—just do it.
Sometimes you just need to bypass the need for approval and to launch that blog or finish that design. You need to publish that podcast episode or share that photo on Instagram. Untouched.
There is so much creative beauty inside of us, and as I’ve said a hundred times—and will say a hundred more—the world needs our art.
As for me, I’m realizing that the grass is not necessarily greener (creatively speaking, that is) on the other side of the fence. It’s plenty green where I am standing, and I choose to water my side.
I’d like to start sharing some relevant articles each time I write, so what you see below is just that: some pretty good reads.
Let’s just admit that our inner critics are nothing but big jerks. While it’s perfectly normal to be jealous of folks who are doing things we wish we could be doing, we need to channel those emotions and creating masterpieces.
Your envy is a signpost. It points you towards needs you’re not meeting (stability, security, comfort). It also points you towards your own potential.
While you do have to position yourself to stand out, creativity is not a competition. There are limitless opportunities for you to offer unparalleled value, no matter how intriguing someone else’s services seem.
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