[ leia o texto em português, aqui :) ]
We all know this is something we shouldn't do, it was already explained to us, more than once, how harmful this type of behavior can be and also how social media is the worst place ever to do this kind of stuff, but there's no way out: comparing ourselves to others is almost impossible to avoid, especially when talking about creative and artistic work. Like always, there are no rules, but sharing is caring, so I've decided to do a small list of some habits that are helping me to better understand and handle the comparison.
Let's do this!
1. Recognize negative feelings and make room for them to exist
It took me a while to understand that an ignored negative feeling can quickly transform itself into toxic behavior. When we compare our creations and processes to others, usually, some bad stuff starts to arise — for me, envy was always one of them. When I see something really cool and original, I can't stop thinking: "wow, I wish I had this idea". In the past, I censored myself. "It's terrible to be jealous," I repeated silently inside my head. Then came guilt, the feeling of inferiority and, therefore, the punishment: "a terrible person like me will never be able to create something nice". But what I'm beginning to realize is that the more I recognize and make room for those ugly feelings to exist, the smaller and weaker they get. Now, instead of ignoring how envy I get and feeling blocked by the guilt that emanates from that, I try to recognize its presence in my body: I feel the buzz in my stomach, I take a deep breath and greet this old friend than I watch it go away. Maybe the feelings you get while comparing yourself to others are different, but I really recommend this process of giving them some space. There are no bad or ugly feelings, only the things we do or not because of them.
2. Use social media consciously
Your Instagram feed can be a source of inspiration and encouragement, but also of creative block and self-doubt — and it's very important to be able to identify when one thing becomes the other. If while consuming social media content your inner voice is repeating any variation of "damn it, I'm not doing enough", "I'll never be able to do something like this", or "that person is much better / worse than me " I would say it's time to consider unfollowing those profiles or start exploring some alternatives. For example: Did you know it's possible to follow a person's posts but silence their stories? Or do it the other way around? And that instead of following someone, you can spend a few minutes on their page saving posts that really inspire you in a folder? There's a whole new world beyond the follow button and we need to learn how to use it ASAP. "Ah, but I should be stronger, I should be able to use social media without comparing myself" — it's true, I think that sometimes too. But what I've recently realized is that self-confidence is a habit, not a gift, and that, especially in the beginning, we need to preserve ourselves in order to develop this muscle without suffering. Furthermore, the flow of information and supposed intimacy generated by social media is completely unprecedented. No one knows the right way to deal with it — not even that
authoritarian little voice inside your head. So allow yourself to experiment, reflect, and find your way of dealing with social media in a conscious and constructive way.
3. Search for diverse and more relatable references
For a long time, I thought it was impossible to be a writer without reading literature classics. Today, I'm more and more convinced that, in addition to established authors, it's fundamental to dialogue and consume writers that are producing in the same time-space than you, and yes, that means giving up some of the classics. If the comparison is the dark side of social media, being able to discover the process and the creations of artists that you can more easily relate to is definitely on the bright side. Today, we have access to the work of people who are not in museums, magazines, and galleries and this is incredible, because the more diverse our references are, the more we strengthen the idea that there are infinite ways of being an artist and that, therefore, we can create our own way of doing that too. The important thing to have in mind here is that, even though access is much simpler than before, many times, we still turn to the same institutions and channels in search of references. Take control and work actively to break this pattern and make your references as diverse as possible. Gradually, one of the many results of this behavior will be showing you that comparing yourself to others is, by default, something that makes no sense at all.
This article is part of "profession: artist", a content series about assuming sensibility, art, and creativity as your work.
written by Marcela Monteiro
Marcela Monteiro is a writer who creates narratives in multiple formats and platforms. Her production stands out for a very sensitive point of view that frequently gravitates around everyday sensations and feelings with which everyone can identify. Graduated in Law and Mastered in Communication Sciences, with emphasis on Internet and New Media, Marcela has already worked for advertising, content and public relations agencies, producing articles, scripts, and integrated campaigns for several clients. In addition to that, her work has already been published by Glamour Magazine, Casa VOGUE, and the Portuguese newspaper Público.
We have built the idea that masks are negative distortions of who we are - or of who we show ourselves to be. But as a person who likes to see both sides of a coin before taking any sides, I learned to recognise that we all have dualities. And instead of letting ourselves be taken by them or using them in negative ways - and somehow losing our own essence in that process - I have learned to acknowledge and embrace these parts of me - and turn them into daily choices - and tools.
"You just have to believe". Not because believing is the only thing that has to be done, but because when doubt holds us down, our desire to create has to push us forward.
And like a river with meanders, this line in between - which I call discipline - may tend more to one or the other side in a few days, but it always keeps me focused and with an eye on my goals. It connects the land I’m standing on, to the ocean of possibilities that I want to reach. Self-discipline is what gives me the daily flow to do things and then feel like doing it more and more. It’s a growing and permanent moving flow - and cycle.