Comparisons:  The World is Not Fed on Prize Winning Tomatoes

Any career in the arts will invariably hit you with a case of the “comparison syndrome”. Perhaps you find yourself on the upside of the comparison!  Congrats!  But if you’re like most of us, we generally lean towards thinking that we fall short of our icons.   Its at this inevitable point that I start to have negative thoughts.  The kind of thoughts that speak in sinister tones taunting me with their criticisms of my abilities.

Perhaps they have visited you before as well.  They like to launch arrows to your ego with targeted hits like “You aren’t good enough!”  “You aren’t talented enough!”  “Your photography and success will never be as good as ‘x photographer’ !”

And that my friends is the clinching moment that all self depreciation must stop.

As I allowed myself to wallow in my weak comparison to industry greats, I was reminded of a refining lesson I experienced years ago as a musician.  Please allow me to share, as it parallels any art form and personal battle of comparisons.

Once upon a time I had a passionate dream and desire to be an amazing music composer that would write music to change the world. I wasn’t so much interested in fame and glory, as I was driven by the hope that my music would be impactive and lasting.  As an innocent undergraduate student spending hours upon hours analyzing music of the world’s greatest composers of all time, I became increasingly discouraged.

“I am never going to be as great as Beethoven?!  I will never be as intelligent as Bach!  I will never write as meaningful and moving of a work as Handel’s ‘Messiah’ ! ”

Yet, oh how I wanted to!

I had the drive and desire, but alas, I am no prodigy.

One fine afternoon as I was lamenting my prophesied future failings, my composition mentor spoke one of the most utterly plain and simple lines of encouragement and perspective.  He said,

“Brooke, the world is not fed on prize winning tomatoes.”

Disguised in his words is a lesson on the role we can each play in our own sphere of influence.

No, I will never be as prolific and intelligent as Bach.  But… not everyone in the world has access to Bach, even likes Bach, or has been influenced by Bach.  The world indeed, is “not fed on prize winning tomatoes”… but are nourished still the same by everyday plain old regular tomatoes ;)

The people we reach individually may never have access to our perceived “master artist”, but we ourselves can make a small difference to at least one person in our realm of influence.

We each have something unique to contribute to our art.  And how blessed we are to all be different!  The things we create can only be created by us… for no one else has had our own experiences, has our own heart, or our own perspective.

And as far as comparisons go?  The only healthy comparison is against ourselves.  Have I improved?  Am I doing better today than I was yesterday?

I may not be a prize winning tomato :) … but I’m hoping to shine up what I’ve got and be the best plain old regular Brooke around… and since there’s no one else exactly like me, thats totally attainable!