Art used to be a competition for me. I wanted to “win”, which in my mind meant that I got the most accolades and praise in any group art setting. That I would outshine anyone whose art was compared to mine. I was competing against every other artist to somehow be the “best.”
This led to a lot of strained relationships with other artists in my younger days. I could never appreciate their art for what it was, or simply offer kind words of encouragement. I was always concerned with when I would next be able to speak about my art and how to interject more of myself into the conversation, particularly if I was afforded the opportunity to compare something they had done with something I had done.
This all changed when my mom discovered the art of a child prodigy when I was in my late teens.
All of a sudden, I was not on the top rung as an artist, and I never would be, because who could compete with a child who at 8 years old was painting in more detail than I probably ever would in my entire life?
This led to an existential crisis of sorts. If I couldn’t be “the best”, then who was I as an artist? What were my goals? What was my purpose?
One day, I realized something. It’s not about who draws a better line or captures a better likeness, but about what art means to me, what it could mean to someone else. It’s about inspiration and beauty and telling a story. My purpose as an artist is to inspire and encourage, not to tear down and compete. I want to make everyone feel special and important, not to draw attention to my own accomplishments but to help them appreciate theirs.
So I stopped comparing and competing. I stopped looking for the negatives and started focusing on the positives. Everyone has something special to share with the world. Everyone has a unique story to tell.