I am still on the Burnout topic from a couple of posts ago. I was thinking of this as I was writing about Burnout, but I felt like it would be a better post on its own. We live in a world where it is super easy to share anything and everything we do in our lives. We are inundated with pictures from our friends of their vacations, date nights, girls (or boys) nights out, even down to what we ate for dinner. And everything looks perfect. And of course, we stand back and see all this “perfection” everywhere and compare it to what we might be doing at the moment, the laundry, the dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning the toilet.
If we look too long, we forget that everyone out there has a toilet to clean, a house to tidy up. Everyone has to eat at some point and go to work to make the money to make it all possible. It’s amazing how much of life is really just mundane stuff that simply has to be done, whether it be for sheer survival, like food, water, heat, or whether it is for physical comfort, like cleaning, doing laundry, and so on. Obviously, there are people who can afford to have others do much of this for them, but that’s not the norm, no matter how much we may wish it was sometimes.
Burnout comes when we see one thing, the “perfection” that everyone portraits, and compare it with the mundane that we feel we experience for the most part in our lives. Burnout comes when we are constantly working for the “perfection” as well, constantly feeling like we missed the mark, that we didn’t measure up to someone else’s standard, that we never will.
I am grateful for the opportunity to paint. I have learned through my painting that perfection isn’t really attainable. I have seen beautiful pieces of art, commented to the artist about it, and they can tell me everything wrong with it. If there is a stroke in the wrong place, the wrong color, whatever, they see it. I am the same way. I start a painting, and at least once during the process I look at it and think it’s been ruined. At first it was hard to persevere through that part of the painting, but I have learned a couple things through the process.
The first lesson I have learned is that if I persevere through the ugly or ruined looking stage of the painting, that rarely do I have to start over. It may not turn out exactly like I wanted, but I always learned something, and it never turns out as ugly as I thought it was going to somewhere in the middle when I wanted to quit.
The second lesson I have learned is that everyone is different. I have painted pictures that I thought, “it’s alright, but not my favorite.” I share it on my Instagram page and have people request prints. They love it way more than I do. But it’s something that brings them joy in their life. I have also painted beautiful pictures, that are my absolute favorite pictures and have no one purchase them, ever. It is what it is. Both of the paintings are beautiful, and because of the differences in each one of us, my perfection isn’t going to be yours and vice versa. Maybe that vacation was super fun for that person, but you may go and find out that it’s not really what you wanted to do with your time or money. When we compare, we often can’t see that the experience was for someone else, not for us.
The third lesson I have learned is that there are a lot of really awesome people out there, when you get off social media and out into the real world, who are super supportive of others. I talk to so many people, some who buy my art or books, some who don’t, but they talk to me about it, they’re curious about how it’s done, and they usually have a story to tell that gives them some sort of background or experience with art that is super interesting and connects them to what I am trying to do. They are encouraging and have great ideas and suggestions. I have never had someone come in and tell me I painted something wrong or that they were better than me, even if they’re an artist as well.
The last lesson I have learned is that I am unique. I have gone to bazaars and shows where there was other artist, even other watercolor artists, and each person’s creation is unique. You could have three watercolor artists line up their work of the same subject, and each one would be unique. Each one would have a personal flair or touch that was different from the rest, and the people who came to look would like different artists as well because the viewer is just as unique as the painter. I love that because it reminds me that in all reality, you can’t compare yourself with anyone else, because each person has a unique flair, a unique touch that sets them apart from others. It doesn’t make any one of us better than the other, but it makes us individual.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Sometimes we have to look around and see how everyone is doing and strive to be better because of the inspiration we get, but we should not compare where we are with where anyone else is. We need to celebrate our success, and celebrate our neighbors’ successes, because there is enough success for every single person. So, for less burnout, and more peace and happiness, put down the phone or turn off the social media. Don’t try to keep up with your neighbor, simply be yourself and succeed in what you are striving to do.