The Crisis of Comparison
I love social media for many reasons:
It connects me with people near and far.
It's inspiring to follow artists, illustrators, makers, and designers from across the globe.
I feel like I am part of a community within the virtual space, my favourite being Instagram. I am thankful for how it has helped my business to grow, particularly this first year of working for myself full-time.
What I don't enjoy however, is the way it makes my imposter syndrome raise its ugly head and leaves a gift of self doubt in my stomach. "You're not doing enough, posting enough, or working hard enough" "Some people unfollowed you today - because they hate what you do, more people will unfollow soon if you don't post something good", "No one has commented on your post they must hate the work...just take it down".
In the early days it was really hard not to beat myself up about everything I did or didn't do. I was taking on steady client work and building up my portfolio, but still constantly applying pressure on myself to deliver more. Staring at my sketchbook, or iPad, long into the night trying desperately to think of something good enough. Something that would make people follow me, like my posts, or help a new client to come across my work and hire me for a job.
In the last 6 months I have realised the level of stress I was applying to myself was doing nothing but hinder me.
Who was this invisible force I was working so tirelessly for? What was the ultimate goal? To work till I died and hope that someone pinned the number of followers, likes, and comments to my coffin as a declaration of my accomplishments? No, of course not.
I had to change the way I looked at the social media space, so I could enjoy the good bits but manage the challenges better. Of course I still love every new follower, like, or comment I get. They boost my confidence and remind me to enjoy my successes, but I can't chase them like gold at the end of a rainbow (or berate myself if someone choses to unfollow me etc). I've had to realise that I need to nurture myself and the social community I enjoy so much online. Talk with those who engage and engage with those I admire and look up to. Share what's happening with me organically, rather than because I feel I have to. Talking with others has shown me I am not alone in this invisible battle. It seems to be the silent curse of social media and something we all deal with in various ways. For me something had to change though because it wasn't productive having this invisible problem hanging over me.
I've tried now to switch my attitude, to move from watching everyone else and frantically drowning trying to keep up. Instead I'm developing me and my own journey; giving myself a bit of self care along the way - so I can grow within my own space alongside the incredible artists and creators I see daily.
There will always be talent around me that far outweighs my abilities. There will always be people doing and accomplishing things I'd like to do and dream of doing, but I am just one person and I need to balance my desire to do more with my ability. To enjoy where I am and the time I have to do things, as well as live a full life.
I suspect it will be a continuous challenge that will fluctuate depending on other elements around me, but I feel the best thing is that I have acknowledged it. I see it and now I'm putting strategies in place to combat the sneaky sneak imposter syndrome from ruining my day.