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Apples and Oranges

“Comparison is the thief of joy"  Theodore Roosevelt


When I am working with creative people, they often look at their own careers in the light of how they measure up against someone else’s in the same field.


But is this helpful? Or as Teddy Roosevelt pointed out, does it rob us of our joy?


On the one hand, the less pleasant side of our egos might feel a bit smug if we see we are doing ‘better’ than our colleagues. But that isn’t really who we are, is it?


More common though is comparing ourselves with others through the lens of our Inner Critic and we all know where that lands us!


Surely comparison is helpful, because how do we know how we are doing if we don’t check our progress with someone else’s?


The problem with that is we are always comparing apples with oranges.


However much you may look at someone else and think you are comparing like with like, no-one else has exactly the same background, upbringing, qualities, personalities, experiences, ambitions, etc., as you.


You don’t know what is going on inside their heads. You may be driven by your passion to create, to connect, whilst that other person, who looks like they are more successful, is driven by fear of failure and is a perpetual bag of nerves and self loathing.


Maybe that person who seems to have an advantage because they have a partner who can subsidise their artwork also has debilitating, unpublicised depression.


Maybe that person who is a natural whizz at talking about their work in public is looking at your Instagram feed and thinking, “how DO they get such a great grid?”


The urge to compare often comes from:

not having your own clear aims of what you want to achieve, with milestones and goals

a perceived scarcity - what we feel don’t have

feeling that we need to be ‘other’ and forgetting our uniqueness, the very thing which makes us creative

 How do we stop these comparisons? To counter these:

create a picture of what success is FOR YOU and measure your progress (not yourself!) against those. If you are ahead of where you want to be, celebrate. If you are slipping behind, review the goals, the timelines and your next steps to support you in moving forward.

make a list all the things you do have and for which you are grateful.

list all your qualities and skills and what makes you the person and the creator you are.


Above all, remember that life is not a competition. Don't compare your life to others; you have no idea what their journey is all about. It is your own personal journey to discover and express the uniqueness of your dreams, individuality and creativity.

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