Today I want to look at a problem most of us have…. envy. This could be a great book we read, an amazing movie, a moving painting, a song that makes you cry, even a picture of a cover model. We think, “why can’t MY book-movie-music-art-appearance-etc be like that! I am such a failure! Let me go tattoo ‘L’ on my forehead right now!”
What we fail to remember is all the work that went to get to those stages. When we look at our work, we see the mess, the blood, the badly written lines, silly characters, and horrific descriptions. So of course when we see a finished and polished product we get depressed.
But behind all those wonderful finished products lie weeks, months, possibly years of horrible first drafts, songs that never pulled together, film footage scattered on the ground, and a super model that takes five hours and ten people to look the way she does.
We’re looking at our own cake batter—eggs, flour, sugar and wondering why it doesn’t look like something in a bakery window.
And it gets worse if we show our work to someone who doesn’t have a clue as to the process. They read our rough draft (or even a “gone through one edit draft” and think we’re fooling ourselves that we can write (or insert your goal/creative endeavor here). Even if they don’t tell us, we can usually feel it. Thus more depression about our lack of skill and envy for others.
For some reason the vast majority of humans seem to think that everyone else has it better than they do. That everyone else is more talented, creative, skilled, has the perfect family, etc. Guess what—aside from the numbers being off (the majority thinking they are the “loser/rejected minority”) it’s not true.
No one wakes up able to write a NYT bestselling novel, or an Oscar winning film, or a Grammy winning song- they ALL worked their butts off for it. You can’t compare your work in progress, or your path in progress, with someone else’s finished product. Yet way too many of us do that very same thing (raising my hand here folks).
This isn’t mentally healthy for a creative process, or any self-improvement process lemme tell you. You know the saying you can’t compare apples to oranges? Well, this is trying to compare apples to apple pie ala mode made by a master pastry chef. And the outcome is painful and can completely destroy dreams.
So next time you find yourself doing that- take a step or two back and remind yourself that you have NO idea how long it took for that finished product to turn out the way it did. Then admire the skill, then turn your own skill lose and give it a chance.