Lessons from Myself

April 7th, 2011
“Letting go of comparison is not a to-do list item.  For most of us, it’s something that requires constant awareness.  It’s so easy to take our eyes off our path to check out what others are doing and if they’re ahead or behind us.” Brene Brown

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about Competition vs Creativity. Not that they always have to be adversaries, because a competition can spur your creative energy and help you come up with on-the-spot solutions. But in my case, competing has more and more come to overshadow making something, and as a result, my ability to be spontaneously creative, or to play with ideas for the pure fun of it has been put on Mute. I know that jealousy and envy of other people can make this happen, and yet I have to be reminded of it over and over and over. I live in a city which abounds with young talent, amazing muses, quick wits and cool hipness, and somehow I have come to believe that it is all effortless for everyone but me. That there is a well of ideas that everyone but me can access. And then I struggle and fight myself to come up with a better, bigger idea than anyone else. Every idea or project has to prove my worth all over again. Maybe I’m embarrassing myself by admitting this. Maybe you don’t need to produce Something Big to make yourself feel visible in the world. Maybe you’ve learned that there are other, better ways to feel alive and loved. I’m still working on that. I remember when I was a teenage bride and living outside Kentucky for the first time in my life, becoming an autodidact through the aegis of public libraries wherever the Navy sent my husband and writing poetry because I wanted to, because I couldn’t not do it. I had nothing to prove, nothing to live up to, no one to surpass, and writing was a lifeline to haul me up and over into a new world. I don’t deny I had a fierce unfocused ambition, but I also had an upwelling of unsophisticated hunger for knowledge of any sort. This old photo a friend just sent me reminded me of that version of me, of all the burning yearning I contained. I want to return to that hungry-to-learn self instead of just being hungry to earn outside validation by what I produce.


7 Responses to “Lessons from Myself”

  1. I always have to remind myself that when I visit a gallery or read something fabulous, I am seeing the artist’s/writer’s best work. I’m not seeing all the false starts, the crappy drafts, the things that didn’t work and got thrown away. My struggle has been to give myself permission to begin something and not finish it. To experiment. To keep working on something even when it’s hard. To throw away (or delete) my failures without regret.

  2. Diane says:

    “. . . nothing to prove, nothing to live up to, no one to surpass. . .” Why should this be such a challenge? I think you’re on to something. All those voices – including our own – that keep raising questions about how we measure up to others; about whether our efforts will make us proud or are a waste of time; about whether our stabs at creativity are good enough, have a clear purpose, will pay off, etc. It’s all so useless and paralyzing, but I don’t know how to shake it. By the way, I love this old photo of you and I think it looks remarkably like the Nikki of today.

  3. Dawn Elliott says:

    I think that many of us struggle with getting caught up in what other artists are doing…comparing ourselves, constantly competeting…not feeling worthy if we aren’t always as hip/creative/smart/prolific/you name it. I’m a new blogger and depending on my mood, health, hormones, or hunger quotient, my feelings of worth at that moment might be dictated by how many people had read or commented on a particular blog…or if I got a response from a new gallery…
    I, too, want to be happy and secure in my own right, and not let outside influences define or dictate how I feel about myself and my work. This takes a constant awareness for me, as well. You are certainly not alone…!

  4. Sandy Donn says:

    Nikki. . .I love your brave soul. You express yourself so beautifully and your constant questioning simply reveals that we are all more alike than different. Thank you for being a voice I love to read/hear!

  5. Carlen says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve said! Have really been struggling this week myself as I continue to strive to accept myself and all that I am with OR without my accomplishments, ambitions, successes. It is a HARD and difficult task, for sure. And I, too, wonder if I am the only one looking for this peace and contentment??

  6. edie says:

    I think competition in business & sports can be a good. It breeds excellence ~ it’s the ego’s thing.

    Creative pursuits are a thing of the Soul who could care less about being better, stronger, faster, prettier. The Soul just wants to be, to create things that express it beingness and to speak to other Souls.

    You have done what most people don’t. We play around but never quite do enough to get pregnant. You not only got pregnant but gave your ideas a life of their own.

    Your creations here and @ Skirt mark your existence, express your beingness and speak to many Souls.

    Ahhh, Peace…

  7. …..well said…..

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