From Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog: Comparison is the Thief of Joy
This is not (I realize) a new thought. But wow, is it true.
Kristine begins by telling a personal story. I will add: I would never in a million years audition for any form of performance role. Being an instructor in front of a classroom full of students is fine. Being a panelist at a convention is fine. Performance in a role, no way, not fine in the least.
Of course, the basic idea — that comparing yourself to others is not a happy path — is true regardless. She says:
The writers I’ve been around, particularly those with some success, often compare themselves to others like this: I’m more talented than XYZ Bestselling writer. How come he has all the luck? And then they try to explain it to themselves, often with a result like this:
Oh, he’s successful because he dumbs his work down for the masses. … Or, he’s successful because he sucks up to everyone in power (in traditional publishing).
He’s never successful because of his abilities—not to that person. Not that it matters, either. In the arts, comparing two artists isn’t fair. They’re different. They’re on different paths.
This is indeed an insidious frame of mind. This is true whether you tend to be envious of other people’s supposedly undeserved success or envious of their acknowledged skills and simultaneously self-denigrating regarding your own. The latter isn’t as bad — it’s not mean-spirited — but it’s not helpful.
Long post, but here’s Kristine’s basic conclusion:
I know a lot of you have that problem. Most of you compare and find something wanting in yourself or you figure that the other person (persons?) cheated somehow and that’s why they’re doing better. The problem isn’t that they’re doing better (which might be a perception thing) or because they’re more talented or because they try harder. The problem is that you’re comparing. …
We don’t have enough joy in our lives … Enjoy what you can do. As an artist, you are unique. Your skills are yours alone. Comparing them to someone else’s is a waste of time and a waste of your precious abilities.