It’s 23 days into the new year and I haven’t written anything. Wait, that’s not entirely true. I have a few little scribbles, a scene or two, in a note book somewhere. But as for substantial, planned writing, it just hasn’t happened yet. As always, I came into the new year with grand ideas of publishing my first novel (“this year, for sure!” – me every year), reading 52 books and moving out of home – permanently this time. I have to say, I’ve made fairly good progress on the books, being on my 11th already, but what with reading, binge-watching vampire movies and discovering a new anime series, my writing has suffered.
It wasn’t until just now, reading a blog post by my sister, that I realised how little I’ve written this year. Reading the post, all I could think was “God, I wish I could write like this”. I’ve always been compared to this particular sister. When I was around 12 we looked similar (she was 22, so I don’t know if that was insulting to her, me or both of us) and I constantly got mistaken for her. And then I started high school and people started expecting me to achieve like her. See, she’d topped the state in English, and when my teachers realised I have a particular knack for English, they all thought I would be The Next Her. Unfortunately, I let every single one of them down.
Being compared to my siblings, not just my younger-older sister, has always bothered me, mainly because (and I’m not afraid to admit this anonymously) I am extremely, painfully insecure.I hold ridiculously high expectations for myself, basically setting myself up for failure, but still beating myself up when I do fail. It’s something I realise is not good for me and try to change, but I think the Yes, But game is something everyone does, even from a disturbingly young age.
The Yes, But game goes like this: Person A compliments Person B. Person B either accepts or rejects the compliment, then passes it on to Person C. For example, “Wow, Anna, this story is brilliant!” “Thanks, but Judy’s was so much better.”. I’m sure we’ve all played this game at one time or another. I know that I, personally, play this game a lot. Not always out loud, either. Sometimes it goes like this: “Wow, this story is really good!” “Thanks!” *Inner thoughts* I bet they’re just saying that to be nice. Theirs was much better.
As someone who does this a lot, I have to say, it is an excellent way to undermine your own confidence. Because, let’s be honest here, we’re never going to be the best at absolutely everything we do. I’m never going to be the greatest writer in history, nor the best dancer, nor the best painter. In fact, even within my immediate family, I’ll never be the best at any of those things. But just because I know that, does that mean I should hang up my laptop, dancing shoes and paint brush? Of course not! I’m not going to get any better by sulking about how I’ll never be the best! And I don’t have to be the best, I just have to be my best. Comparing myself to others is never going to help me. Even if you compare yourself like this: “My story wasn’t the best, but at least it wasn’t as bad as Paul’s.” In fact, that may even be more harmful. Besides, maybe Paul’s just a little rusty, you don’t know.
I wish I could say that after realising how bad the Yes, But and comparison games are, I stopped completely and never did it again, but unfortunately, this is not the case. See, I am extremely competitive, and while I know I’ll never be the best, that does nothing to quench the desire to be the best. In fact, sometimes it fuels it, out of pure stubborness. But not matter how much it might drive me to try harder, in the end this is always my failing. Not matter how good I think my story is, when I start comparing it to others’, it makes me feel as if I’ve fallen short. So here is my new years resolution: Don’t compare any writing to anyone else’s until at least April.
I’ve just mentally started comparing this to my sister’s post, so I’ve failed already, but I’ll try again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. And the next. And the next…
Image credit: https://beingsakin.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/yesbut.jpg