Let the people around you win, shine and take center stage. Give them space and give them confidence to reach for their dreams. Don’t just applaud them. Be the stairs that elevate them as they climb. Lift them up. Lower yourself. Stop making comparisons, gloating, “I could do better than that, and therefore I will cheer you on” or lamenting, “I’ll never be as good as you, so I’ll bitterly cut you down and find faults to feel better about myself.”
Both approaches are dead ends, directionless and short-lived, but more than that, they are pathetic. They are destructive, too, potentially for both parties, but unquestionably for the one generating the thoughts. I know. I write from experience. Things are changing now, as I grow, or at least I think they are. I’m trying to be a bigger person, which, ironically, means I must deflate and shrink.
Recently, a coworker mentioned her interest in photography, and as I used to dream of being a photojournalist, my initial thoughts were competitive ones. Pushing the selfishness aside, I complemented the creative process and encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone and confront her fears about displaying her photos in a small art show. She clearly loves photography and people around her are encouraging her, saying she has something special, but she’s afraid of being cut down or ridiculed. I don’t know how skilled she is, but I hope she chases her dreams and I told her so. “No matter who you are or what your skill level, there will be people who like your work and people who don’t. Some of the people who criticize you won’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about. All criticism is not worth listening to. Same goes for praise. You can’t take it all seriously. But no matter what, you will be able to take the feedback, analyze it, learn from it, and use it to your benefit. What it comes right down to is that you’re not taking pictures to please everyone; you’re doing it because you love it. Be bold. Be confident. Be creative. Try new things. Sometimes they’ll work—great! Sometimes they’ll flop—move on. You don’t have to be perfect every time.”
It’s just a start, but I can now genuinely say I hope she, and so many other people I used to compare myself to, soar higher than I. It’s such a wonderful feeling to look up and see beauty above you in the sky!
(Originally posted on my old blog, Interim Arts, on May 29, 2013)