The only person you should compare yourself to, is who you were yesterday

I read that title quote somewhere, but apparently it was too much for my brain to remember where I read it or who said it. Sorry about that. Let’s just say in the context of this post I got really smart and wrote it myself. It’s normally one of those lines that I read and think ‘give me a break’ and roll my eyes at, but lately it seems to be a necessary mantra.

Today I was on youtube (as per usual) and I happened to click on a Jenna Marbles video where she talked about how we need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. (Here’s the link) It was one of those times where you really needed to hear something but you weren’t expecting it from the place you did, and you also didn’t know that you needed to hear it until you heard it. That make sense? Lately I’ve been wondering whether or not my writing is good enough to ever be published, and couple that with the great books I’ve been reading and the awesome television shows I’ve been watching I began to think that there was no point in even trying. How could someone like me ever do anything worthwhile? How could this brain ever create something as pure magic as Philip K. Dick’s work, or the tangled beauty of Game of Thrones?

Image

No beard? No joining our club. Our club for awesome.

In fact, I’m still convinced that I will never succeed in creating anything of their standard but it doesn’t mean that I should just stop what I want to do and resign myself to a life of never trying at anything. In the video, Jenna says that once you accept that you’re never going to be the prettiest, or the smartest, then all the pressure lifts from your shoulders. I’m attempting to let go of pressure and expectation.

I always wanted to release a book of short stories, but everyone always said “you can’t do that, it’s so hard, don’t bother, you won’t be good enough, don’t you know only really famous authors can release that shit?” Well, eff that. I’m going to make a book of short stories, get that thing published and it’ll be awesome.

If I ever want to get a move on I can’t be held back by comparing my story to another person’s and second guessing myself, I’ll never get anything done and life just doesn’t work that way. Though it’s at least for now keeping me from getting pregnant – “aww that person has the cutest baby in the world! I wonder if I’ll have a cute baby? What if I don’t have a cute baby… what if my baby is like Oscar the Grouch or something, oh my God I should wait..” So that’s a bonus.

Comparison is a tricky thing because on the one hand we shouldn’t compare our looks to airbrushed models, or our intelligence to professionals, or our lives to rich celebrities, but you also don’t want to go the other way and use comparison as an excuse to just do everything terribly only to say “Well it’s MY best and I’m not comparing it to Hawking so tough titties!” especially if the thing you did terribly was somebodies wedding cake or a kid’s braces.

A little comparison can be used as inspiration; look at the greats that you admire and tell yourself that you’re going to try as hard as you can to achieve something you can admire just as much one day. Instead of worrying or whining about not being as good, sit down and get to work on getting good. Earn your talent. Practise. Learn. Don’t be held back by your insecurities or fears – sit down and educate yourself on how to get better at something and try to enjoy it while you’re doing it.

And if you find that your absolute best after all that hard work isn’t anything so good as those greats you admired, well at least you know now what your real potential actually is and you can work from there. In the words of Dylan Moran, “Don’t do it! Stay away from your potential. You’ll mess it up, it’s potential, leave it. Anyway, it’s like your bank balance – you always have a lot less than you think.” 

“Wait, that’s not an inspiring, uplifting quote to end on Jess what are you doing?!”

Oh, sorry.
No wait! Never fear I have one last thing to say; I tried to think of something really beautiful and inspirational but it turns out I’m way too cynical to even half believe the bullshite that came out of my brain, so after back-spacing those phony-sounding sentences I just want to say – how do you know your potential is limited unless you try to unlock it all? Work as hard as you can, and if you’re not the greatest? Deal with it. Accept it. Enjoy what talent, hobby, job or interest you have and let go of the idea of having to be number 1 or else nothing at all.

What would you do otherwise? Never try? I’d rather fail knowing I did the best I could and knowing that I enjoyed doing it, than wake up one day and realised I’ve failed at my entire life.

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38 thoughts on “The only person you should compare yourself to, is who you were yesterday

  1. This is a nice and honest post Jessica. I know when I’m writing, once in awhile those self-doubts creep in and it can be crippling…so I go for a walk!

    Then there are other times when I catch myself being a little too cocky, so when that happens I go over something I’ve recently written and do some editing…it’s humbling in an enjoyable way.

    And then for inspiration there’s always a little of Mark Twain…just shoot from the hip and add a little honey to the sting. 🙂

  2. Oh wow. I didn’t realize you were a big deal on WordPress. I almost feel bad for linking your page from mine. Well, let me know if you’d like me to delete the link and reference to you. I was just trying to give accolades for excellent writing, but it seems you’ve already received plenty from minds far greater than mine.

    1. Oh I wouldn’t say a big deal at all haha, I’ve just come across some really awesome people on here and we’ve followed each other. Now those people with 3000+ followers and 600 likes on every post.. woah.
      But thank you, and thank you for linking me and it’s up to you if you link or don’t link 🙂

  3. Superb. I intend to find a poem I wrote about this very same notion 10 years ago. Of course ill dedicate it to you, another thoughtful and introspective mind. I’m going to follow you now.

    Yours in Contempation,
    Kierkegaard

    1. Wow thank you!
      I’m writing up a new short story for the book tomorrow, so maybe it will happen sooner rather than later, :S
      Thanks again, that was really great of you to stop and say so 😀

  4. An excellent post and an excellent quote. Another urban quote is “never compare your insides with others outsides” We never really know what is going on with another
    and one minute a book is a classic and taught in school and the next it is on the banned list (.http://www.ala.org.) LOL.
    Also keep your inner circle filled with positive affirming people who don’t throw well meaning bars of soap into the bubble bath of your aspirations.
    Your writing is a delight to read.

  5. Potential is not a quantitative measure because it is limitless. Just remember, your title so eloquently put it, you can only compare yourself to who you were yesterday, and with each day you grow and experience new things. So take those moments and bring it to your writing; you can’t go wrong! I loved this post; it was very brave of you to put your vulnerabilities out there for us to read! Thanks.

  6. […] post “The only person you should compare yourself to, is who you were yesterday’  ( https://mittenskittens.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/the-only-person-you-should-compare-yourself-to-is-who… ) got a lot of attention, the views fizzled out as people went begrudgingly back to their regular […]

  7. Here’s one of the saddest stories I ever heard–don’t let it be yours: It’s from someone who was very talented. When he was 14, he was convinced he was born to be an artist. Michelangelo’s statue “The Pieta” came to town (Chicago) and he went to look at it, riding by on a conveyer, hoping to learn something. He could see the spiritual beauty, the craftsmanship, the wonder of it and he said to himself (this is a true story, I’m talking about a personal friend of mine), “I could never do that.”

    And so, he never did.

    But he is one of the most sensitive, talented, imaginative people I have ever known. Please, dear, don’t ever say to yourself, “I could never do that.”

    You could. If you really, really care to, and are willing to put in the hours, the apprenticeships, the hard work and thinking required, to do “that.” Or even better than “that” because you will be standing on the shoulders of giants, if you believe you can.

      1. It’s sad because although he’s happily married and has great kids, he knows he left his talent behind and something is missing, all because he didn’t feel he was good enough. Believe you’re good enough, no matter what anyone says. Some criticism will just be plain mean, from spite or envy or hatred; some with be meanly said but have some validity, and some will be very nicely said and have some validity–try to split your “self” from you art, and it hurts a little less. But, it always hurts. We just find ways to deal with the pain (and begin to understand that growing is almost always painful–pain is not all bad).

  8. I’ve been writing all my life, and made a personal commitment to becoming a writer in the mid 1980’s. I’ve had articles and poems published, have taught creative writing and have a memoir coming out this fall. I’m convinced that writers are born writers. We feel compelled to write. It isn’t about getting published (although of course we all want it because it feels like an affirmation that we’re “good enough”);

    It’s about each of us learning to make the most of the unique gift we’ve been given–to be our best selves and express our unique perspective as well as we can express it. You are good enough.

    Writing is like living. If living is important to you, then live. And never stop learning from your experience–they’ll teach you to live with more wisdom.

    If writing is important to you, then write. And never stop learning from your reading, your writing and your relationships with other readers and writers–they’ll teach you to write with more creativity and skill.

    There’s always room for improvement in all our lives; in all our writings. We shouldn’t put off living or writing just because someday we’ll probably know more than we know today.

    1. Tracy, that was the most beautiful comment I think I will ever receive and beyond that, an amazing piece of advice and writing.
      I feel the same way when I read some of your blog posts – I don’t even know how to reply to something so good / lovely, so I’ll just say thank you very, very much. 🙂

      1. You’re eloquent. And, I feel that you’re also sincere, and sincerity is far more important than eloquence (well, in my value-system it is, but who am I?). The two together? I can hardly wait to see your future. But, alas, we must wait for the future. Meanwhile–live and write today, dear, and today, you made mine!

  9. First things first; get comfortable in your own skin so nothing else matters. Yes, there will be bigger, better, prettier somewhere else, but if you have that inner confidence then you will absolutely rock socks.

    Same thing with writing; you will read somebody else’s work and think ‘I’m not worthy’ but that should never be your trigger to shut it down.

    Depending on what you would consider success, there are plenty of ‘average’ writers who are laughing all the way to the bank (100 Shades of Gray).

    Keep writing, develop an audience and only measure against yourself and your expectations. Sometimes the hardest step is the first step out the door.

    Good luck in your journey.

    1. I always remember the Shades of Grey / Twilight phenomena, you’re completely right there. I just have to try and write something I’m proud of and hope for the best.
      The hardest step really is the first step out the door, I believe that 100%. I’m moving forwards slowly but still, forwards.
      Thanks for reading, and good luck in yours 😀

  10. An excellent post! I was looking for new blogs related to writing to follow, and I’m well-pleased that I stumbled on this post. I’ve felt those same feelings of inadequacy and have compared myself to the greats before, and you’re right, we have to aim for our level of greatness and not theirs. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

    1. Oh wow thank you! I’m just checking out your blog now and the fact that you have ‘Soliloquy’ in the title just makes me want to follow you.

      I’m not entirely happy with the way I wrote this post, perhaps I shouldn’t have sworn or wrote some sentences the way I did, haha, but that kinda helps my point – I can recognize that I want to do better and I can practise.
      It seems like it’s a lesson you really have to train yourself to live by, so I’m going to have to work on it every time I think I want to give up.

      Thanks for reading and following, I’m following you back! 🙂

      1. The way I see it, it’s your blog and you can cuss if you want to! You can always go back and edit it when you start blowing up in the publishing world and have to mold a certain image…or add even more curse words if that’s what you’re going for. Haha. Thanks for the follow!

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