So, one of my gremlins is ‘competition’. I’m the 5th of 6 kids, eternally compared to the elders when young. I strongly dislike being compared. I’m also not a social butterfly, my aversion to random humans up in my grill grows exponentially the more time I’m in a customer service field. The most recent example of this gremlin was when I discovered this article featuring financial analyst Jordan McDonnell’s inspiring career change success. (I reference this and other links about him on my Inspires Me page)
My first thought was “Cool ! This makes me feel optimistic, and love that I can read about someone’s journey so similar to mine!”
Second thought was “Wow, love his website!”
Third… “…his website is way nicer than mine. More professional or, I dunno, experienced looking.”
Fourth was “jeez, this guy hasn’t worked in the field he aspires to yet it seems his abilities in his dream career are light years beyond my artistic abilities” (mind you I hadn’t read beyond his home page yet)
Fifth – “if someone like this exists, who’s going to want me by comparison?”
Sixth thought? “what am I doing, I’m not going to be good enough by comparison to the probably zillions of people in the world who are this awesome and have more experience and skills and money and youth and…”
–Thoughts 1 to 6 took approximately 6 minutes–
Seventh. “Snap out of it dumbass. There are EIGHT BILLION PEOPLE ON THE PLANET; plenty of customers.”
My eighth thought was “ugh, Blech!! I hate that there are 8 billion people on the planet, we’re so overpopulated and inundated with new products, and how could I possibly be noticed in that?”
–thoughts 7 and 8… took 30 seconds–
This is the point I start feeling panic. Thinking – there are billions of people, all competing, too many wanting to live where I want to live and probably have similar careers aspirations. I start vividly imagining and feeling the sensation that a crowd of thousands is rolling towards me and climbing over me. That I’m physically buried under bodies, struggling and suffocating and panicking. That I’ll never have open air, freedom, individuality….success.
I feel this way when I think about adding more public social media to my marketing considerations. I want to vomit when I think about going to conferences just to meet people, rather than for inspiring lectures, enlightened courses and creative venders. When I look at my email updates and see this image all I see is 3 groups, 101 discussions, 40 comments and 874 million pieces of input all of which I ‘should’ make effort to follow? I don’t WANT to. I want simplicity and beauty. It’s overwhelming, frustrating and for me, discouraging.
To me, right now, it’s not opportunity, it’s punishment.
Ninth reminder to myself. “you didn’t start really feeling that way until you were well into your poorly conceived choice of career in unrelenting customer service and your most recent job, becoming unhappier and more frustrated by the day.”
Tenth realization – “Remember, freakshow, what you offer is as individual as being a doctor, or artist. You know you cannot be the chiropractor in every city, so one person is not going to be your competition everywhere. This applies to any career. Look at all the actor doppelgangers who are basically twins but still find separately valued work. Even if you offer something close to what another company offers, everyone can have different audiences.”
Eleventh – “Great Scott, woman, there are not 8 billion people on the planet who are exactly like you, interested in your interests, talented at your talents. There are not 8 billion who speak your languages, are your gender or have your experience and perspective. And there ARE going to be millions of people who want what you specifically offer (this recently reinforced by Marie Forleo’s marketing video).
Twelfth. “But if I’m not the best one, I will always be aware of the better one. The one who demonstrated my great idea before I could. The one who makes me look at the website I was reasonably proud of yesterday and think it’s tacky by comparison and agonize over the fact that I have unrealized plans that are fabulous but since I didn’t publish them first I’m just a copy cat, or a less talented follower.”You see, I love learning about great ideas/people. Supporting- referring or guiding others to them. …I just cannot deal with comparison to me.
Thirteenth, and the thought I force myself to remember 6 times a day, every single day:
“Compare yourself to yourself, Andrea. There are always people who are impressed by you and it doesn’t help your cause when you call their attention to someone else you admire and say, ‘but I’m not as good as him’. You know what ideas are bubbling in your brain, and where you want to go. Stop worrying that someone else will be valued first and more, if they happen to have a similar idea. Who cares? There are 7.9 billion people on this planet you will never encounter. Their journey is not yours.”
Fourteenth? duh. As always… “I really need chocolate right now.”
Gremlins definitely need to be dealt with. But some of them just don’t go away. If you’re one of those people who can miraculously (inexplicably, IMHO) decide to stop the problem, good for you. Otherwise we must learn to know what our gremlins are and understand them. If you’re like me – adopt them and love them like irritating siblings if they won’t go away, but figure out how to prevent them from interfering with your life. (With chocolate. Always, chocolate. It kept the dementors away, afterall)
“Compare yourself to yourself, Andrea”—I think this is the take-home message from your gremlin attack. If we start comparing ourselves to everyone else out there, we’ll naturally feel inferior. Just remember that others in our various fields likely feel the same way as us, and all any of us can do is control our own actions. It’s not realistic to expect to be THE ‘best’ in anything. It is, however, realistic to expect to do the best we can with what we have. And by focusing and acting and constantly trying to improve, then if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll end up as ONE of the best, or at least someone others want to seek out.
Have a great weekend!
Valuable observations, and you’re so right Carrie.
I do tend to resent having to make continual output and improvement just to maybe eventually be recognized. I do it anyway, constantly, for myself, but I always am shaken if my first draft isn’t enough for others to be impressed especially in comparison to someone else’s first or 12th draft. Telling myself that everything we each do is entirely unique and therefore cannot be compared, helps.
Thank you 🙂
I really hate it when my gremlins lead me to paralysis—what to do, why bother it won’t be good enough, no one will like what I do paralysis.
Sometimes coming out of that leaves me exhausted!
It’s a bummer, right? I’ve been feeling a bit like that ever since writing it, and exhausted with a 3 am headache is exactly the outcome. Interesting evolutional habit.. haha