Comparing Yourself To Other Creatives

Recently, I caught myself doing something I am not particularly proud of: comparing myself to another person in the field of videography and filmmaking. Granted, I have enough self-awareness not to put myself alongside, say, Peter McKinnon, who has been at this game for years but I still feel I was unfair to myself nonetheless. Let me explain.

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As I mentioned in a previous blog about collaboration (CLICK HERE to read that), I began making videos last year when I was given the opportunity by DJ Ren Rock to capture nightlife events in Visalia. Around that same time, another local filmmaker was getting their feet wet as well. Over the past twelve or so months, I learned when and how I could by watching YouTube videos for tutorials, turning to friends with experience, and just going out there and giving things a try. And failing sometimes, to be real. All in all, I had been pretty proud of how far I’ve come without a formal education in filmmaking while working a full-time job with substantial mandatory overtime, enrolled in college courses, writing, and trying to maintain some semblance of a life outside of work to keep my sanity.

And then I saw how many videos this other filmmaker was churning out. That’s when I caught up in some unattractive self-criticism and honestly, a bit of jealousy. I would love to be able to create visuals on a more consistent basis like this filmmaker. I would love to be able to go out with my camera whenever I want and go wherever my heart desired to capture nature, life – anything I felt inspired enough to direct a lens rather than being tied to a desk in a windowless corner buried under paperwork and hoping that my computer doesn’t decide to go on another unscheduled break.

But how ungrateful does all that sound? Let me help you out. The answer is: very. Yes, I have a full-time job with hours much more akin to two which has on many occasions made it difficult in the past for me to head out with my camera whenever I please but what it does provide me with is a salary that helps me not only pay the bills but to save for other goals like purchasing a house and the purchase of new camera equipment as I continue to practice filmmaking. My classes will aid me in getting a degree and a more preferable job when the time comes. And as I noted before, my family and friends help me stay balanced mentally and emotionally – without which I would not be able to create. At least not as well as I would like.

Then there are the respective styles of myself as a filmmaker and all others in the same field. Each of us brings our own style, experience, storytelling ability, etc., to the table whenever we create anything - be that music, writing, film, or another form of visual art. The fact that another creative is producing more does not necessarily mean they are creating the same style of content or even that they would want to. Or that you will want to produce the same kind of work they prefer to include on their resume.

Cliché moral of the story: Don’t compare your where you are in your story to any chapter of the story of another individual. They are completely different books.

On a final note, I am happy that this other filmmaker is doing as well as they are. There are obviously passionate about shooting and are out there hustling. It also shows me I should cut myself at best a smidgen of slack because, with the comparable number of hours at my disposal, I might be comparing myself to another creator. Like Peter McKinnon. Just kidding.

What do you do to check yourself when you start comparing yourself to other people? Let me know in the comments below! Your tips could help other people kick this bad practice to the curb.