Ready for this week’s talk it out topic? I’ve been reading a lot lately about designers who are online and how they often compare their work to others and feel overwhelmed by all that they see. I guess this is called inspiration overload. Comparing your work to others can go from a natural curiosity to a full blown obsession causing stress, emotional and health problems, not to mention a bad mood and lack of motivation to do your own good work. I occasionally feel overwhelmed by all that I see online, but it doesn’t impact me or my mood because I have learned how to just unplug and find better things to focus on that doesn’t make me feel less than worthy.
Some have confessed to me that this isn’t the way for them — they get very caught up in the work of others, often feel copied or as they say, “ripped off”and very frequently visit the sites and blogs of their competitors feeling envy and displeasure. Not healthy, right? But I think for women (I don’t know about men but they seem to function differently online amongst their competitors) it is this left over from high school feeling that the most popular and pretty girls win. I learned from an early age that there will always be someone slimmer than you, richer than you, more successful than you, smarter, prettier…. gosh the list goes on. The point is that you cannot reach the top because there is no top. What is beautiful to you is ugly to someone else. I personally love Cameron Diaz and think Drew Barrymore is darling. My friend Josh thinks Drew is, “a dog” and my friend Alexander says that Cameron is, “a troll”. I mean HELLO. I love these women and think they’re like the goddesses of my generation. But then someone else is sitting there thinking and seeing something very different. See my point? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Art and design is the same. What one likes another thinks is absolute garbage. The person you envy may be producing things that quite a few others consider poor design. They may consider your work to be above and beyond that of whom you envy.
There is only your personal best and your pinnacle that you can reach. Comparing yourself to others to the point of feeling dissatisfaction with who you are or what you do is obviously not healthy. Others have different thoughts, ideas, passions, beliefs, family experiences, education, etc. so of course what they create will be different from what you are making. Remember to, the same person you envy may envy you in return. Or, sadly, they may secretly battle a major illness or have a tough home life while yours is stable and secure. It is important to remember that everyone does not have IT ALL going for them. No one is perfect or living the perfect life.
So I’d like to ask you, how do you feel when you see other products in the same pool as what you design? Do you feel jealously? A feeling of competition? Do you ever think your work is not good enough? Are you learning from others? Do you feel burn out by all you see or inspired? If you feel burn out, how do you manage to change this in order to be productive and happy with what YOU are creating? So I will leave the ball in your court now to continue this discussion…
Thoughts? Feel free to rant, reveal, explain, ask and whatever else in the comments section below, that is the purpose of this weekly comment, hence the title! So no wallflowers – don’t be shy!
(image: elle decoration south africa)