We live in a world where it’s easy to compare ourselves to others. Think of the ‘like culture’ established by social media sites. Everyone is posting for the views, likes, and comments. They determine their self-worth on the number of interactions they get on a picture or status update.
Apply this to the writing world. You hop on Medium and see people making upwards of $10K a month on their writing. You see thousands of claps for articles on topics maybe you’ve also written about. It’s hard not to get discouraged at the lack of interaction you’re getting on your own work.
Maybe you also see a post that is just flat out jaw-dropping. The writing is spectacular, the points well made, and you can’t seem to fathom how one person could write these posts one after another on a regular basis. You think to yourself I’ll never be this good.
I think we’ve all fallen into the trap of seeing a successful writer, poster, photographer, etc. and feeling bad about our own work or lives. My photography isn’t good enough to get this many interactions, I’ll never write a post like this, or my life is garbage compared to this person.
The problem with this negative thinking is that we are comparing ourselves to a person who has a completely different life trajectory than we do.
When I first started writing, I of course did my best to follow all the top resources I could find. Then I did the worst thing ever… I compared my writing to theirs and felt awful about my own talents. They had amazing skills and tools to write wonderful pieces. How silly was I, though? These people, who had been writing for years, were obviously going to be more talented than I was! I’d been writing for five minutes! They had been on this road for much longer.
There’s nothing wrong with being a beginner, or with being where you are at this moment in time.
This is why you should only compare yourself — that is, your current status as an individual — to your future self. Only you have the experiences and the history that you do. You don’t have the same writing path as any other writer. You are uniquely you, and the only other person you can reasonably compare yourself to is yourself.
So, think about where you want to be down the road. Do you want to be a professional photographer? What about a published author? Rather than being frustrated that you aren’t where you want to be, or aren’t as good as someone else in that profession, use your future self as motivation.
You aren’t suddenly going to be five years down the road, but if you want to be a famous photographer in five years, you can create action steps to get you closer to that future self. I want to be a full time writer five years down the road. It makes no sense for me to compare myself to someone who is a full time writer at this exact moment and get upset about my skills right now.
I want to look at myself, see where I want to be, and create a plan to get me to that point. I can take tips and look at how others got where they are, but I’m not going to be them. I will always be me, and I will always be on my own path. So if you want to be a photographer, a writer, or something else, you need to only compare yourself to the future You and figure out what you need to do to get there.
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