I’m thrilled to introduce a new guest writer! This article, about comparing yourself in the arts, is by Lauren Norton of Glitter & Grandeur.
Have you ever watched a performance or seen a piece of art and thought: “I could do better than that.” – OR – thought: “I’ll never be that good”?
I have thought each of these things multiple times. I’m guilty. I’ll admit it.
As artists (of all art-forms), our work is personal – it is a part of us: an extension of our soul. We live in a highly competitive world where we constantly are told we aren’t good enough. I’ll agree: it’s hard -making it easy for us to fall into the soul-crushing trap of comparison.
We all struggle with it. We compare ourselves to our peers, our teachers, our idols, our friends. “I’m better than___.” “I’ll never be as good as ____.” Whether we are building ourselves up or tearing ourselves down, the root of the evil is comparison.
Comparison kills dreams.
Why do we do it?! It’s so bad!
It’s human nature to compare.
In a world where you have to constantly be in tune with what’s going on in the industry, it’s almost impossible to not judge or compare. That is what makes the arts so scary. You always feel judged – like you need to be better. Well, that is going to end TODAY!
Artists need to stop judging and comparing and start supporting each other.
And I’m going to tell you how to do it.
First off, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am 24 years old and finishing my Masters in Musical Theatre. I studied classical music (opera/art-song) in my undergraduate program but decided to pursue my passion of musical theatre (think Broadway) in my master’s degree.
When I first got to the school where I would pursue my masters, I was guilty of comparing myself to others – it was awful. I would look at the new freshmen and think: “How am I ever going to make it in this industry when people four years younger than me are a million times better than I am?” I constantly tore myself down while watching others perform.
Then, one day it clicked in my mind that: yes, these younger students were extremely talented but that didn’t mean I wasn’t. I got into the same school after all! I just had different strengths and that was okay. I would learn what I needed to learn and strengthen what I already knew.
My path was just that: my path. It didn’t matter what anyone else was doing. It mattered what I was doing. I didn’t need to stress about anyone else’s journey and skills but my own.
That is when I learned this trick for enjoying art without judging or comparing.
Think of everything as an opportunity to learn.
Observe and learn from someone’s technique. Is there something you have been struggling with that this person seems to handle flawlessly? How do they do it? What tips can you take from their work to help you improve your own?
Discover new repertoire. Are they doing something that you should explore? Musicians: if they sing a song that fits your style – jot it down and learn it! (Don’t steal an unpublished song, though! Stay legal, folks!)
Make connections. Meet the artist and help each other solve problems and improve. You can never have enough connections in the arts industry.
Allow yourself to enjoy it. We are artists because art lights a fire in our soul. We love it! We need it to survive! Don’t let your art be the only art that gives you that drive. Be inspired by others. Find joy the art of others. Let that light your fire.
We can enjoy art that is not our own. We can watch a performance and be transported into its world – instead of judging the piece or ourselves. You just have to change your mindset. Be open to growth and enjoyment. Get rid of the judge-y part of your brain. Don’t compare.
You make art for the enjoyment of others. Let yourself enjoy art too.
What helps you enjoy art instead of judging and comparing? Comment below with your tips!