Inspiration and learning can quickly turn to resentment when we compare our talents with those of others. Our joy becomes tainted as we struggle in our own process while also viewing our peer’s finished, perfected work. In an interview with The Great Discontent, painter Rebecca Rebouché reminds us that everyone has to do that unglamorous hustle before the pretty, finished product and you should embrace it:
I have this saying: “There’s no music playing when your dreams are coming true.” That is the hustle. The hustle is humbling and, at best, completely authentic and gracious. Everyone sees me at the gallery opening, but no one sees me changing my clothes in my car. I could almost cry thinking about all the ways I’ve hustled, sacrificed, and scorched the earth with my striving. But what you start to realize is that hustle isn’t just for the novices and underdogs—hustle is a mindset, a practice.
Social media allows us to edit our creative process to a beautifully linear procedure. We often only see someone else’s end result, but not the time and energy involved. We don’t see the long hours clocked at the studio, the missed social outings, the self-doubt, setbacks and failures. This is the part of the process that we tend to forget when we compare ourselves to others. Minimalist Joshua Becker notes that we generally compare the worst of ourselves with the best of others.
Comparison is dangerous because we lose focus of our own goals. We get distracted by someone else’s achievements and feel discouraged about our own progress. Becker emphasizes that everyone has messy process, whether we see it or not. The key is to keep your eyes on your own work, and not lose sight of the hard work everyone has to do to get to the shiny highlight-reel-only we see on their social media profiles. Looking to others is important for inspiration and learning, but not analyzing. Comparison should only be done with yourself. Set achievements that are important to you and celebrate them when they are reached.