What's up beautiful people? I pray all is well to those reading this. Today, I've decided to share my thoughts on comparison.
Compare: to estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity of two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.
So, this "umph" to drop some thoughts on this topic was stirred after seeing certain things on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I follow many artists, entrepreneurs, young professionals, creatives, business owners, and dreamers, on social media. And as these individuals all strive to reach higher levels and accomplish new goals, it can become difficult for some to keep their eyes on the prize instead of each other. Most claim to be in their own lane, yet in reality they are not. They tend to drift left and right to see what others are doing in their lanes. They observe how fast other are driving; what kind of car, year, make and model they have; the color of the interior; what music they’re playing; if they have seat warmers, (you get the point). And by doing this they enter the danger zone.
In March 2011, after moving from Las Vegas back to the east coast, I decided to start my own poetry open mic. Voices In Power, also known as VIP, was held at Barnes & Noble in Deptford, NJ. the first event I ever put together and it was a success. With family, friends, and strangers, collectively coming together, 120 people came into the building to check out this new open mic, and it gave me so much life. Just to give some perspective on where I was, I did not know of any other people my age throwing events, being full-time artists, and getting paid to do what they do--create. Once I threw this event, I quickly met other creatives like myself and it opened up so many new doors for me to explore. I instantly fell in love with being an artist and was looking forward to curating more events.
As mentioned, I didn't know about creatives my age moving and shaking in the arts until I began, well, moving and shaking in the arts. Quickly, I found myself monitoring others’ movements to see how I could reach similar levels of success. During this time, I didn't see the problem with comparison. I found their journey to be an inspiration, but I later came to the realization I wasn't just being inspired--I was being influenced. There's a difference between being inspired and being influenced and recognizing this is how the introduction to the problem was birthed.
Inspiration: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
I wasn't just allowing the success of others to push me into the creative process with a new excitement brewing inside, I was allowing someone else's story to shape how I created my own. God has created us wonderfully and fearfully with a specific passion to fulfill our divine purpose. So, when we get into the deep waters of comparing what someone else is doing to what we are doing, we are comparing ourselves against a person with a purpose that isn't ours. Therefore, although the journey may have similarities to that of others, their path cannot be taken as a guideline or measuring stick. Where God has placed you and how He has designed you is strategically connected to His desire to uniquely fulfill His purpose in your life, His way. That means your journey in its entirety is on God’s mind. From the struggles to the successes and the trials to the triumphs, He is involved in it all. The journey is yours, not anyone else’s, so own it.
Usually, when I fell into comparing my events and my poetry to that of others, it was due to seeing someone else's event pull larger numbers or another poet receiving more snaps than my piece did. This would trigger an insecurity, which is an underlying identity issue (check my blog post on identity), and it would results in trying to top them the next time. This wasn't just friendly competition, it became an unhealthy drive which blurred the vision that led me into the arts to begin with.
Now, obviously, everyone reading this isn't a poet or event curator, maybe not even an artist; However, if considered from the perspective of striving to fulfill your own unique God-given purpose, this message is for everyone . Don't allow an obstacle to appear on your journey and cause you to begin to compare yourself with those who may do something similar to you. Especially avoid doing this by viewing people’s social media accounts. Most of the "successful" and "happy" lives you see online are only creative stories like some of my poems are. Beware of how convincing deception may seem. (I'll leave you with that mini Kanye-rant).
Wherever you are, God can use you, but God cannot use you when you're trying to be like someone else. You were wonderfully made, beautifully created with a purpose, not to be compared, unique to YOU. Keep praying, keep faith, and continue to ask God for guidance and watch how looking at someone else stops becoming a hinderance. Look straight at God and allow Him to hold your hand on this journey called life.
I'll close with this - the potential you have is relative to your purpose and your purpose is uniquely yours.
Now, go be Uniquely You!
Thank you for reading.