I am a very competitive person. I don’t often get upset when I lose, but I sure do like to win. I like to win at board games, at video games, and in sports. But I also like ‘winning’ in other aspects of my life: I always wanted to have the best grades in school, I want to be better at art than anybody else, and so on. In other words, I’m always striving to improve and I want to do my absolute best, which is not a bad thing.
But it can go a bit too far. And the truth is, there will always be somebody better than you. Unless you’re a world champion, someone will always beat you and will always be better. I came close to being the best in the world at something. It sounds impressive, but it’s really not. There was a stupid game on Shockwave.com that I played when I was a kid. It was called Mountain Bike Madness, and I played it obsessively. My scores were miles ahead of everyone else’s expect for one person. The two of us vied back and forth for that top spot for months, but he always edged me out. Then Mountain Bike Madness 2: Molten Mayhem came out, and I think he stopped playing, because I easily got the top scores in that game. So I guess I was the best in the world at something. Go me!
But outside of silly online computer games, I am definitely not the best in the world at anything. I’m good at things, maybe even great at some things, but there are certainly people out there who are better than me. And that’s hard for me, because I really do want to be the best. That’s where the problems come in — I have sometimes felt, because I will never be ‘the best’ at art (which is a silly concept anyway, but that’s how my brain works), maybe I should just give up.
It took me a little while to realize how pointless this way of thinking is, and to figure out how to overcome it. I follow a lot of amazing artists on Instagram, many of which produce works that are simply spectacular. And rather than look at those works and think ‘Well great, I’ll never be able to do that,’ I now think ‘Wow, someday I want to be able to do that!’. Don’t be discouraged, be inspired.
There’s something else to remember too: Yes, there will always be someone better than you, but by the same logic there will also always be someone worse. What I mean by that is there will always be someone who looks at your work and thinks ‘Wow, that’s amazing, I wish I could do that!’. And that can be a very important thing to remember when you’re not feeling great about your art.
So don’t give up — keep practicing, keep working, and you can get where you want to go. Keep striving to match that person whose art amazes and inspires you, and along the way you’ll inspire others.
And now that’s enough motivational advice for one day; I’m going to go take a nap.