The title of this blog post is something that has really gotten me through these first 7 months of 2018. I don't really remember where I first heard it, but it has not left my head since I did. Said by Theodore Roosevelt (the 26th President of the United States), "Comparison is the Thief of Joy" has been interpreted in many ways, some people believing it not to be true, some swearing by its accuracy.
I truly believe that in our current times, this quote is a huge help. We have access to everything instantly, especially when it comes to communication. And with that, comes social media, and the obsession of seeing what everyone is up to, at all hours of the day. It can be both a wonderful and toxic environment. We all have a handful of Instagram accounts that we follow, you know the ones, clean-cut perfect images, they seem to always be on vacation and their dog is the CUTEST. Firstly take these with a pinch of salt, these are shot GLIMPSES into someones life. There are 24 hours in a day, and you are seeing a SNAPSHOT. Secondly, it is quite hard when following these accounts, to not compare ones life. To not look in the mirror on a morning and criticise. Comparison to "other", does not help this. In the past I found myself feeling inadequate based on how others present themselves, or the trajectory of other people lives. But I found that in doing this, I really was the only obstacle in the way of all things wonderful. Why compare? Aren't we all individual? The combination of things that make me, me, does not exist in anyone else! Sure, other people may have ASPECTS of what makes me, me. But we are all individual. There is only one US, in the entire world. Isn't that cool! So where is the comparison? You. Are. Enough. MORE THAN.
Aside from social media, being an actor, there is an extra layer of comparison. And a lot of that is just the business side of acting. A strong sense of self-awareness is a must. Am I right for the role? Could I play that? What are my strengths and weaknesses? And so on. But I have seen comparison ruin peoples careers. Feeling inadequate is a part of acting in a way, but its a killer. Why is their career advancing more than mine? How on earth did they book that job? Maybe I'm not good enough? etc. I found myself doing this a lot before I left for New York. Ultimately, I was suffering. I was focusing so much on others that I wasn't able to truly focus on the things that I have to offer as an artist, and as a human being. It took a couple years here in the states to re-program those thoughts in my head, but I can tell you, when you let all that crap go, a weight is lifted off of you shoulders. Of course there are days when those thoughts creep back in, but for the most part, I have found the "joy" again, in simply being myself.
I recently appeared on a panel at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, my alma mater, in front of prospective students and their parents. I found myself overwhelmed with nostalgia. I remember being in that exact position with my parents. When I was called upon to give some advice, I found myself bringing up "Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy", relating it to the feeling of auditioning for drama schools and the feeling of dread when you see another guy with the same button up on, singing the same material, or a girl who could play the same parts as you. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that what you have to offer to the world is unique.
The next time you find yourself in a moment of self-doubt, stemmed from what other people are doing/look like/are achieving. Try and think "good for them" and I don't mean sarcastically! It is truly wonderful that things are going well for them. Remind yourself that YOUR path, is different. And that is okay. That YOU are different, in many ways. And that is OKAY. What you have to offer is more than enough! Throughout the coming weeks, I want to do a variety of posts on this topic. The topic of switching up our mindsets, to avoid negative comparison, the avoid some aspects of self-doubt. It is something that I have struggled with and LOVE discussing with people, so lets begin a conversation about it. Lets help one another out.
I would love to hear from you all in the comments, or on my various social media platforms. Is this something you struggle with? What coping mechanisms, tips and tricks do you have?
Have a wonderful week!