Who is your authentic self? Not the mask, but the person?
Caterpillar: Who are YOU?
Alice: This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation.”I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”—Alice in Wonderland
I’ve tried on many ideologies over the years, been swayed by many opinions, fought many battles that seem quite pointless now. All of that, as a friend of mine recently said, culminated in me “breaking out of the egg” like a baby bird….MUCH later than at 20 years old!
That’s kind of overwhelming to me. I have felt just a bit of regret that I can’t go back and have the knowledge to do things over again in the right way. But that’s not a grief I felt for long. The destination I’m headed for has a huge journey ahead. I can’t look back now.
Yet as an artist, writer, filmmaker and designer, I often feel like my work doesn’t compare with that of others. I was pretty proud of some nice shots I took for a short commercial film the other day but then I found myself downgrading them aloud: “I like that shot, not saying that I’m a filmmaker or anything…”
My classmate looked at me and said, “I think you did a good job.” She was a better photographer than me, and has been in marketing for years. Of course that was nice to hear (and it was not flattery), but I drew this conclusion from it:
Sometimes we look at our work backwards and upside down. I mean literally. We don’t enjoy it because we are comparing it to “better(?)” work.
Comparison isn’t wise unless we’re using it in a healthy way–as the guideline, not the rule. What’s wrong with being yourself? True, as you can tell by my Picasa-filtered photo below, I may not be the next great photographer. But I will always see images in a different way than anyone else, as will you. That uniqueness was something I failed to embrace for a long time. Because it seems cooler to imitate successful people. (Emphasis on the word “seems.”)
Am I going to make mistakes? Absolutely. But am I going to learn by not being a cookie cutter artist? Positively.
I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Natalie Lue’s blog, and I like this post about comparisons: Why You’ve Got to Minimize Comparison to Improve Your Self-Esteem. Great ideas for the artistic journey ahead.