I’ve recently taken a course about social media, and one of the lessons in it was about examining my ‘competition’ online. I remember dreading it. The very first thought crossing my mind was: ‘I know my ‘competition’’ (aka amazing artists that I love). I see them every single day popping up their bleeding amazing talent in my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds.
(Illustration by Tarsila Krüse)
It’s not hard to see why: I follow many (MANY) artists online because I truly admire their talents, skills, and dedication. All those incredible, jaw dropping pieces that show on my feed time and time again make me want to be better, to improve on my own skills and hone all of what I got. But sometimes it’s a little overwhelming especially when you see SO MUCH TALENT out there. In all honesty, it feels like I can’t create as much as them, or post as frequently as them and that I just can’t be that AWESOME… that’s it. And I grow jealous. Very jealous. I want ALL OF THOSE THINGS too.
I brushed off my uneasy feeling and tried to focus on the lesson: Observation as a method for data gathering. I went with it. I observed my ‘competition’ feeds as a whole, and not piece by piece; observing what kind of pictures they posted, what I liked or disliked, I wrote down their follower count and posts with larger engagement, and began to feel that I was some sort of social media critic/data scientist, scavenging information on strategy. No artistic talent or skill involved.
I was looking at what these people, who I held in so much high regard, were doing professionally to propel their careers in an online business sense and realized something: The bitterness and jealousy were gone.
Why? Well, I wasn’t scrutinizing my OWN WORK now. In fact, I realized that before this exercise I was building pressure on myself by comparing my own path and work to those of the professionals that I admire. I was turning my sincere admiration into blind jealousy. However, by simply observing how these people were using these platforms to showcase their own evolution, processes, growth and accomplishments I took note that I could do it too, but in my own way.
Personally, taking a more analytical perspective on my ‘competition’ changed my paradigm completely. I went from ‘Man, I wish I had this!’ to ‘Wow, this is interesting, how can I learn from it?’
So if you are suffering from bouts of broken-hearted jealousy (and sometimes we are, but it’s very hard to admit it) I recommend you take a step back, acknowledge that it just might be a little frustration creeping up and that’s ok.
Remember that you are a professional and you have your own accord to play to.
What can you learn from the people you admire (successes and failures) that led them to where they are? As artists we always seek evolution, so take heart and accept your own journey, make it better. Go create!