So, I’ve begun to have this thought since I was accepted into my college. I got a scholarship for having unique sculptural skills and a different set of talents, but I look onto all the others who are just like me, and I figure I’m not special. I look to everyone who is better than I am and I think that I am not special. Growing up doing what I do, making halloween masks and props, I was always told that I have something unique. But, am I really unique?
What is the point of what I do if there’s just someone out there who does the same thing I do, but better? Every day it crushes me. My work feels valueless, my work feels so worthless every time I look at it again and again. People tell me that I need to see how I’ve grown, but growing doesn’t get the bills paid. (I’m not paying bills, but I will be in at least the next 4 years) not to mention I feel like an outcast, since art is not seen as much of a legitimate job in our society.
My father works hard. He works so very hard. His health is affected by his hard work. We live a good life. But, I don’t want to be like my father. I do not want to simply be a cog in the wheel that some managers from the higher ups have to put up with. I want to live comfortably on my own terms. I want to live like I can make something of myself, and I want to feel like I make an impact instead of simply making money for some company.
My future stresses me out so much, maybe it’s because I’m young, naive, and stupid. But I always worry so much on a consistent basis that I think that it ironically affects my future, which just snowballs into repeated worries.
Thank you for your continued support. Sometimes I feel as though my worries are so much less significant, especially seeing the problems people face here on the forum. I have a healthy life and family, and my issues seem minor compared to most others. I am hesitant to talk about my issues because it seems to me that my problems are insignificant. Maybe I’m wrong, but I understand that people have it harder than me, and maybe it’s time for me to sit on the saddle and shut my mouth.
What you do may not be “unique” in terms of practice, skills to develop, etc. But it will always be unique because it’s done by you. You are special and unique because you hold a unique story, a unique perception of the world around you, you feel a complex combinations of emotions, hopes, fears that are always met as a complex combination of who you are.
I’ll make a silly comparison. I’ve graduated in anthropology years ago. A huge part of the work of an anthropologist is to spend time with people they “study” in order to observe how they live, what are their beliefs, what is meaningful to them, what are their concepts, values, etc. For a long time anthropologists wanted to make this discipline an objective science and to be recognized as such. But it’s a social science - it implies people and their own complexity. So an anthropologist can’t observe a group and completely ignore the effects of their own presence on the group, the things they decide to focus on, the things that make them more curious than others, etc., and how much all of this will be the product of their story, values, beliefs… that are in contact of others. All of this to say: if an anthropologist decides to study the same group of people as another anthropologist did before, they will NEVER produce the same study and get the same result. Because the knowledge they will produce will be the result of a complex combination of people, time and space that are ALWAYS unique. And they won’t be attracted or interested by the same thing. One could focus on something specific and another one would wonder why they didn’t focus to study on this other thing instead!
Your art - creativity - is also a complex combination. The masks you do for example, you can try to do them again and again, they will always be unique and different, even if the differences are barely noticeable. And if you ask someone to reproduce the same, they are going to do something different! Either by applying their own style or trying to reproduce yours - though it will still be different because their perception would be different.
Another example that comes to my mind is repetition in art and the practice of it. A modern one would be all the “Draw this in your style” challenges on Instagram for example. An artist presents a drawing/painting and invite people to reproduce it with their own style and perception. It’s amazing and fascinating! I would encourage you to have a look at those sometimes and see how much each art is ALWAYS unique, no matter how close or distant they are to the original style.
A less modern yet visual example is the repetition practiced in Monet’s art. For example, for two years he has painted 30 times the Rouen’s cathedral (France). And it shows how unique the context, the light, the perspective - and the result is. It is a good remind of how much EACH creation is unique.
What is the point of what I do if there’s just someone out there who does the same thing I do, but better?
The point is that they no one else is living your life. So if you don’t use the time that you have, the talents that you have, and your right to simply do what fills your heart, then who is going to do it for you? No one. The fact that this is your life is the whole point, first and foremost.
My work feels valueless, my work feels so worthless every time I look at it again and again.
This is where the struggle is. It is not about your work. It is about how you perceive it. Creative minds are often their worst critic. As much as it can be very helpful in order to motivate us to progress, it’s also essential to practice critical thinking to your inner critic (). Right now, what would be a worthy work for you? What is valuable to your eyes? I hear that money is a thing - and of course it needs to be considered (can’t live in a complete utopia), but is it all that creativity is about? Do you actually believe that?
I hear that you are anxious right now and seeing your dad struggling really takes a toll on you as well. Living on your own terms is not going to be an easy path, but it’s definitely not an impossible one. Life, especially work life, is really full of opportunities and unexpected events that we can’t imagine even if we try to project ourselves as much as possible in the future. For your anxiety, the best remedy is to think ahead what are your goals and how to get where you want to be. Though with the gracious knowledge that unexpected things always happen in life too, and that is okay.
Our parents generation have known a different type of work dynamic for the most part. Nowadays, being independent/freelancer, or having a complex combination of status (partially freelancer, partially employee, etc) are more and more common. There are also more and more help to support personal initiatives and journeys. We are less and less in this approach of having one job for our entire life and building a career from it. Profiles and situations tend to be more and more complex, which of course has its share of fears and instability too. It’s possible to find your way and create the path you desire though. But you won’t figure it all out instantly. When your mind wanders too far, you can try to ask yourself if your thoughts right now are serving you or not. If the answer is no, you can try to write down how you could turn them into something useful to you, or completely dismiss them (even if it’s just temporary).
Rely also on what you are actually doing. Dude, you are accepted in the college you wanted!! This is a VERY practical step! Of course it brings so many questions and thoughts right now about your future and work orientation. You will to figure that out progressively, as you will also go through these new classes and have a better understanding of careers and practical journeys when you are versed in the creative workfield. I promise you, you are not expected to know now with a huge clarity how things are going to be. It’s okay to not know. Throughout your studies, you will also receive knowledge and understanding that will be necessary for you to figure that out at your own pace.
You will be okay. You are on the path to building strong foundations in your life. Step by step. Our anxious mind always want to move faster than the train of life! It’s okay to remind yourself that right here and right now you don’t need to have it all figured out.
PS - your struggles are never made to be compared to others. If it’s important to you, then it’s important to us too. We all follow different journeys and there is no such thing as a scale of suffering. The diversity of our contexts and stories is beautiful, and should never overshadow anyone. You belong here. Everyone does. Because life can be tough and stupidly crazy! Even what you see as being “real problems” that others share may not be seen by them as such. It’s a matter of perception and struggles don’t require any label in terms of value or importance. I would encourage you, whenever you see that you are comparing yourself to others, to try to gently re-frame this comparison to yourself, your story, your past. The only person you can compare yourself with is you! Between your present self and past self. No one else. Otherwise it will always lead you to dismiss and hurt yourself unnecessarily. How you feel is valid because it is. No one gets to judge that, not even yourself.
I’m glad you are here and I’m grateful for your renewed vulnerability that you share with this community.
Thank you so much for this detailed response. Hearing about your education in anthropology is incredibly fascinating. I’ve taken some criminology and forensic classes in my high school career, and I’ve always been obsessed with the mental side of things more than the physical crime busting/solving. Often it is difficult for me because I “feel” for the criminals. Not because I sympathize with them in their current state, but because I sympathize with the fact that most of the time they grew up in harsh conditions, and often with pre existing mental health problems that they could not control.
Anyways, again, thank you. In my line of work, masks are often made of existing movie characters, so you can imagine the amount of Michael Myers masks that are made by mask makers because of the fact that Michael Myers wears a latex mask. I have little to no desire to make works based off of existing characters. In fact, sometimes I strongly detest the idea of doing it. I like making my own characters with their own charm. The ability to create life in something that is not alive is such a beautiful experience, despite the macabre style that I partake in. Sometimes I get weird stares for the things I create, and I often have to reassure people that I’m not going crazy, haha!
As for the comment about my father - that happened in a heat of the moment sort of deal. Recently i have come to the realization that I am still grieving my grandmother, who died a year from a week ago (she died before or on valentines day last year) subconsciously and through the support of this group I have only now come to realize its affects outside of the textbook definition of grief. My father works hard, and lately it is easy to see the age seep into his life. I dread the day that my father passes just as my grandmother did. I’m looking into grief counseling for my problems, in hopes that perhaps I can fix my subconscious grief.
I often think that I am tainting my life with my mental illness, and I think that I would be so much better, so much healthier if only these issues did not exist. The knowledge that I will never permanently solve my problems hurts me and what I want to do. To be completely honest, my hobby of artwork is affected more by my struggles with myself than the artwork as its own being. I search in this group for help, but sometimes it’s difficult to accept the answers, and it is easier to wallow in self pity.
Sorry, this was kind of a half-assed answer. It was more about my self awareness and ability to comprehend your comment more than anything else. Maybe a conversation starter? I dunno. Anyways, thank you, and I hope to hear back from you again soon.
Hey there friend! I have personally struggled with picking a career that really suits me and brings me joy. I think the fact that you have found something that you are great at and enjoy is incredible. You have real talent! There is always going to be someone who is better that us at whatever we do, but that’s the beauty of it! It drives us to constantly improve and gives us a goal to meet.
I used to despise my brother’s success and achievements because I felt like it overshadowed me completely. The reality is, I have skills and talents in different fields, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that I have skills and talents. I’m more creative and he is more intellectual. There is nothing wrong with that.
Also, in terms of your struggles feeling insignificant, I can fully relate. I often feel silly for the things that trigger me. It can be something so small that sets me in a bad direction and it feels like I am overreacting. In actuality, we all have different things that trigger us. It doesn’t make them any less significant. If it effects you and your life then it is something to take note of.
I wish you the best and know that you are strong. You got this…no matter what life throws at you.
And please don’t ever feel like you can’t reach out. You are loved and you ARE special.
HalloweenMaskMaker first off I am sorry that you are struggling with this idea that how is what I create is good enough for others or different enough from others but let me say this that what makes your work different someone else is that you are an individual that stands differently from others its your handy work or small differences. I like to see it like a snowflake no two snowflakes will ever be the same and that is how it is in this way what you create and make is yours and you created it. Each time we live our world to creating this idea of being not the same or in same subjects or areas. But when we see that we arent the same in every way. To me making a mark in anyway comes from just shooting for it. So something you mentioned that I want to touch on is this idea that you want to set that perhaps you dont have it as bad as others and what not. I want you to know that even tho your struggle may seem small it is still your struggle and that struggle is important for you and you need to be supported for that. Dont worry about the fact of feeling like okay I am going to sit back and just not at this point because it seems so much less of an issue than another person problem well that isnt entirely the truth its a problem you are having and to us that is what needs to be focused on is getting you better. Even if your item seems less than another please share it.
Hi HalloweenMaskMaker I think I understand your view that you are afraid of not being unique and original. Every creative person faces those kind of thoughts. Leonardo Da Vinci (probably the most creative person to ever live) said that everything has already been made, so everythng else is just copying. It might feel confusing but i think what he had meant is that you always get inspired from somewhere and even though something has been done does not mean you should not give it your special flavour. It is more important to create interesting and beautiful art than original. As long as you enjoy what you are doing and you aim to be better and better then it is already enough .I think you are not being foolish when worrying about the future. it is actualy quite mature. Remember that the most important thing is to be happy with what you are doing. Do you think fits you. Dont focus on how good are others focus on yourself and on your progress. Dont worry, I think you are going to figure out most things along the ways. I did too. I wish you good luck with the studying. Follow what feels right and make the most out of it .
First of all, you are not stupid. You are you and nobody can ever become you. Comparing yourself to others is like comparing apples to oranges, it just doesn’t work, yet we always feel so tempted to do so (including myself, we all do it). You managed to get in this college because you are an intelligent person and you know how to work your way around life. Nobody is forcing you to work like how your father does, we are all different and have our own ways of how we want to shape our career. You can start your own business, work for someone else, whatever floats your boat. Just do whatever makes you feel most comfortable and let life become what you want it to be
You have a bright future and I wish you luck for the rest of your life
Hey Thanks for posting, firstly can I please start with saying that as you grow in life you will always have concerns and worries that will bother you and you can either ask questions about those concerns or let them fester inside and allow them to hurt or worry you more so coming to a place like this and asking the questions that you do is absolutely fine, never hesitate to ask, you do not sound stupid and your troubles are not insignificant in any way. Yes people have troubles that are more troublesome but that does not lessen your worries, you as valuable as the next person so please never stop asking questions when you have them. Now onto the next thing, unless you choose some mundane existence you will always come across other people that come up knowing how to do an equal or dare I say better job than you at some point, whether that is because they have found a new way or because of a new talent it does happen but that doesn’t negate your talents or your gifts because you do have a gift lets be real here, you have a gift and its real. You are unique too, we all are and that doesn’t leave us when someone else comes along. I would love you to learn how to appreciate yourself more. Get some self esteem. There is room in all walks of life for more than one gifted person. Please if you have some time look into working on your self esteem, it would work wonders for you. Much love Lisa. xx