You open your computer with the intention of checking a few emails, maybe seeing what's new on facebook, sifting through some newsletters or catching up on your favorite blogs. Suddenly, you find yourself spiraling down a rabithole of self-doubt, overwhelmed and directionless, questioning your every move and lifestyle choice. How did you so rapidly loose your motivational mojo? This ever-common process is a product of the world wide web on every 20-something navigating life at this moment.
What's the source of this drastic demoralization you ask?
It's the ever accessible insight to the corners of peoples lives. It's the consistently open availability for people to broadcast their actions, successes, and happy faces. It's the ease with which people can showcase their connections, linking to more and more and more (*and more) equally or more amazing people and connections.
The True Story:
When I recently set out to uncover some helpful tips and inspiration from other photographers about working on stylized shoots, I came to find myself over an hour later slumped in my chair with eyes glazed over quivering with intimidation. I discovered one after another photographer in my area creating and doing incredible things, being published in the top magazines, working among teams of established vendors and professionals like this ready-made-and-sealed network of besties. To my shock and utter defeat, my out-of-control web-stalking led me to discover even more about these creatives who may as well have light beams shining out of their butts. Like, holy crap that one with high profile clientele and multiple publications is my age. No wait, she's younger. And dang, that one is featured where? and how many times?!... Aaaand what do you know, that shop has worked with that photographer who is waaaaay more established than me so there's no way they would work with me. It's a slippery slope, my friend, from learning and seeking advice from industry peers into a counter-productive comparison.
The Bigger Picture:
The same age-old questions rear their ugly heads that 20-somethings everywhere have experienced for decades, except magnified with the power of peer-influence on the internet.
How do I earn the respect of other professionals?Did I choose the right path?When will I feel like I've made it?Will I ever be successful?How do I get people to give me a chance?
And forget the idea that this is strictly a 20-something problem-- I feel like some of these questions probably follow us all our lives.
The thing about this comparison, this ugly little weed that pokes through us all at one point or another, is that it does neither the body or soul any good. Without body and soul, we have no hope of growing into better individuals - and individuals we are. We are not alike, our circumstances, surroundings, and choices have molded every one of us differently so to expect or desire the path of another individual is unfair. It's just jealously.
As wonderful a resource as the world wide web, the blogosphere, this vast online network of people, friends, and professionals is, we have to be careful to use it productively and keep the line between learning and comparison in context. Creativity and success are both completely relative and always come with a back-story, a down to the up, and a struggle that we don't always see from the outside.
It's easy to think sometimes that the whole world has it together except for me, that I'm the one wearing red to the black and white party, constantly the girl with her shoe untied or trailing a piece of toilet paper, the one who's almost there but just... never.quite.all.together. Maybe I'll forever be the soul of an awkward middle school girl. Who knows, but whatever my life brings, there will be happiness from the people I love and who love me regardless of my scattered ways. Maybe I will figure it out someday. Is there a formula? If you know it, I'd love if you'd share...
On second thought, I'll make my own.