There’s a vortex that’s trying to suck all of us in, and it’s called comparison. And it’s got a really good friend called perspective that’ll sometimes let you wander to the edge of that vortex. When perspective decides to take a hike, comparison swishes on in and decides to take you out for a ride – and not the good kind.
Comparison is the death of individuality, and the beginnings of the slippery slope of dissatisfaction.
You can’t use other peoples lives as a reflection of the milestones in your own – we each have our own yardstick, and to measure one with a yardstick that is not unique to them is lunacy.
I’m guilty of forgetting this a lot.
I’m a lot younger than a lot of my peers. I went to school a year early, and almost everyone I work with has decades of experience on me. I keep forgetting that my closest industry friends graduated a year or two before me, and that they’ve been at it for longer than I have. A year or two is a LONG time. Lives completely change in a year or two.
My brother’s five years older than me, and yet I feel frustrated that he’s been working for five years longer than me.
Everyone’s at a vastly different stage in their lives, and you need to remember that to fight the sink-hole of comparison.
We have different goals, different ideals – my set of priorities is going to be different then everyone else’s. Sometimes I lose sight that the important things is to just be honest with yourself, and act on that honesty. The premise of raggedly rich is founded on knowing and being honest with yourself, and what you need and want. Just like it was worth it to me to buy my motorcycle, it would be an utter waste of money for others.
I recently found myself thinking that I wish I could be further along in my career. And that doesn’t necessarily mean with where I’m at in my career (I scored an amazing upcoming gig that anyone with decades of experience on me would be grateful for), just that it could be happening quicker. Without months between gigs, and gigs spread out more consistently, instead of all being concentrated in chunks.
Use Gratitude and Awareness To Re-Shift Your Perspective
Alas, fall to spring is where most of the work is, and I really have lucked out with the opportunities. Both that I’ve been offered them, and that I’ve been in a financial position where I could accept them. I really am grateful and aware that had I been in a different situation, had a different set of parents, and hadn’t generally gotten the luck of the socio-political draw, I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
In the arts, patience is a skill, and while I have it, every once in a while I feel restless and impatient for the next thing to happen. Right now my next career-gig will be starting at the end of September. It’s the opportunity of a life time, touring an amazing show with a phenomenal cast; I’m so extremely proud to have been and be a part of this. My dream in high school was to be a part of an original, amazing show, and now my name’s on the inside of a CD cover jacket and I’m going to be touring it.
But it’s currently August. I love being busy, and I love my work, so three months feels like a painfully long wait even with an arts contract taking up the next few weeks. Most of my friends have steady joe-jobs that they can fall into between gigs, or at least household maintenance to occupy their time. I most certainly contribute to the household and pull my weight in errand-running and assisting – but there’s no DIY on the go to busy myself with, currently.
Stop Thinking, and Start Doing
A part of creating this blog was to try and fill my time in a positive, productive manner. I’m hoping to eventually find an array of freelance opportunities that will fill my downtime, and focus more on my novel. I tell people now that I work in the arts, but that I’m also a writer. Phrasing it like that solidifies in my mind that I’m taking it seriously, and has already affected my productivity.
Stop comparing yourself to others; enjoy and be satisfied with where you are in life.
And if you’re not, take ownership and change it. Be honest with yourself and push yourself to discover what life it is you want to lead, and take the steps to get there. Sometimes I find myself listless and unproductive, and the steps to changing that are:
- Establish a structure for use of time
- Create tangible daily goals to accomplish
- Work for something that gives me a sense of meaning
I need to find focus and specificity, which has so far been lacking from my non-gig day-to-day. Creating a set of solid goals and taking the steps to set that into motion is already starting to help.
Complacency is the Enemy of Productivity
Every once in a while, I’ll feel really good about where I am. I’ll feel accomplished, and so I allow myself to settle in and lost that focus and drive that got me there – and suddenly find myself listless a week later. When I think I’m doing fine, I settle; then I realize that things are happening for other people (comparison, without perspective). I look where I currently am, feel inadequate, and so I overcompensate by over extending myself, which will then leads to feeling accomplished – and the vicious cycle repeats itself. I think everyone’s gone through a cycle like this at some point in their lives, and complacency at its root.
Get Shit Done
Over the course of my last gig, I buckled down and pieced together the segments that I’d written for my book. I put it all together chronologically, and filled in the holes to varying states of completion, though, I have to admit, I did use the place-holder ‘ELABORATE’ quite a bit. I’ve re-worked the first chapter half a dozen times to try to find the right tone, and through that work I feel like I’m becoming more engaged with the characters. I’ve never been one to visualize characters or need definitive physical/auditory markers (I was never concerned with the pronunciation of ‘Hermione’ as a kid, since it was just a clump of words that represented the character), so thinking through the opening pages of the book has made me think about how to characterize them.
While I’d like to have accomplished more in my 26 years – I sometimes forget what I have accomplished. Last year I was part of an experience that I had been working towards since high school – it’s weird to realize one of your life-long ambitions. After the immediate thrill died down, my thought was: what’s next? Checked that off the list, what’s next? I need to stop getting trapped in the rut of the lull, and carry that ‘what’s next’ momentum so I can drive through the slow-periods.
Everyone’s measuring stick is going to be unique to them, and remembering that will keep you from the vortex of comparison.
I know I inevitably will, but there’s always another goal or ambition to realize. Don’t get lost in the rut of patience; I need to get a system going that will fill the space of patience, focus my thoughts, nurture that drive, and help me realize the next stages of my ambitions.