No Comparison.

Something I’m struggling with really, really hard right now is not comparing myself to others.

I know it’s something I should avoid, and will never in any way benefit me. It’s a fine line, too, because often I look at someone and think “That person is really good at this thing! I would like to be good at that also!” and feel like there’s something concrete to aspire to, even if my version of whatever it is will be necessarily different because we’re different people. There are people I know whom I’ve placed as role models for various aspects of my life – often I don’t say a word to those people about it because I never want to introduce any sort of comparison between us. ¬†And because a lot of the time they’re my own age (some, actually, are younger – I’ve a number of friends from my first time through college who fall into that category!) so I don’t even want to start myself down the path of figuring out whether or not I’m keeping up adequately with my peers. We all have our own strengths and are at different points on different paths at different times. I may feel like I’m behind in a lot of areas, but that’s only because I can see those most acutely.

I know all of this, rationally. I do. I shut myself down hard every time I start seriously comparing myself and finding myself falling short. I try to shut myself down when I find myself resenting someone for possessing some skill that I still feel I lack.

Today something happened to hit this issue, hard, in a way that I’d never wanted to happen. Someone that I’d placed as one of the aforementioned personal role models was suddenly placed in actual competition with me (though, thankfully, I didn’t know it until after it was a done deal.) And suddenly I had to confront my old issues about competition and comparison and how not to hate people that I actually like a great deal. There’s a reason I’ve never had many friends in theatre – it’s because, after a while, you start to hate the competition. I am trying very hard not to do that and mostly succeeding – at the cost of some sleep and some serious soul-searching. This particular hurt cut deeper than I’d expected and I’ve been known to hold onto hurt feelings a while.

I’m trying to let this be the lesson I need to learn right now. Obviously I still need to address this issue in myself if I want to grow. I can’t be someone else, even if I can learn from someone else’s example. Envying the talent of others will get me nowhere if I can’t set aside that part of me that is always trying to see if I measure up. Trying to mentally “place” myself amongst my peers has historically only led to hard feelings, and I’ve never liked people who make a habit of making those comparisons out loud – so is it really better to make them in my head? It’s petty and small and I have known for years that it’s something I need to stop.

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A weird place.

The spring semester is over and I’m in kind of a weird place. Lots of hopeful things are happening, and I’m starting some new things that I think are going to be very good for me. But a few near-misses and a few endings have made me sad and wistful and kind of uncertain. I’m trying to be more okay with some uncertainty. Change brings uncertainty – that’s a given. It’s not like I haven’t thrown myself headfirst into the unknown before, sometimes with amazing results. Sometimes with less-than-amazing immediate results, but in retrospect? No matter how unhappy I’ve ever been in a moment, I’ve never had cause to regret any of those leaps in the long term.

I’m just… in a weird place. Part of it is a series of hits to my self-esteem followed near-immediately by ego boosts, and vice-versa. All in quick succession. No time to feel good or bad about any of it. If asked, I’d say, honestly, that things are… fine. The hopeful side of fine. But something feels off-balance, somehow.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t do well in times of uncertainty. I’ve always taken these huge leaps into the unknown and always manage to find solid ground… eventually. In between semesters is always this sense of … “ok, what now?”

I was asked about my goals today, and I’m always reluctant to share them with people in a position to judge them. After years of not really having goals, of trying to settle, trying to find a plan for myself that wasn’t horrible, trying to make peace with plans that were horrible… I’m tentative about my goals. I don’t trust them all of the time because I don’t trust me all of the time.

Here is what I know: I need music in my life. I need theatre in my life only slightly less urgently. I would like to be of some use to society despite years of insisting that I’m the most selfish person on earth and like it that way. I’m not, but it was a nice shield to hide behind for a while. My plan is to get as good as I can at singing and piano while setting up a path towards teaching as a source of actual income. Maybe music therapy instead – a local college has a good program for that, and I’m going to visit this summer and see what I think. But the singing thing – that’s something I need to happen, for me. It’s something I desperately want regardless of whether or not I’ll ever get paid for it. That part of my plan isn’t rational; it’s just what my heart wants.