The ever present compulsion to compare ourselves with others is rampant in our culture today, with social media’s ability to highlight only the glamorous aspects of one’s life while keeping the raw reality of human nature hidden. This incessant need to compare our abilities, our relationships, and our bodies to other people’s best represented selves on social media is debilitating to our psyche. This issue hits close to home, as I have been plagued by this problem for as long as I can remember.
I find myself guilt ridden on fresh powder days when co-residents rush to the slopes to grace down black diamond runs in the afternoon, followed by 10 mile long “fun” runs at night. I become embarrassed that I prefer open blue runs, slower pace snowboarding, and have absolutely no desire to put aside my fear to race down steep runs. I denigrate my own athletic abilities by comparing my sporadic long distance running with others’ daily marathon level training. I then wallow in self-degradation on difficult inpatient rotations when I feel surrounded by geniuses and don’t trust my own medical knowledge base. This self-abasement only leads to pity parties and is the fastest way to stamp out creativity.
As I have slowly begun to expose my own vulnerable creative soul to others, I find myself questioning every photo, every word, and every thought. What if my work is amateur (it is..), what if people think I sound stupid or worse, pretentious? What if, what if, what if? I follow a few blogs religiously; women who not only capture the essence of light perfectly, but also create beautiful sets, and write compelling stories and heartfelt exposés. I aspire to create scenes and art even half as beautiful as theirs, and find myself more inspired by their abilities than trepid due to self-shaming. I think witnessing a woman’s courage to expose her creative self to the public eye sends rays of light out to other women, channeling encouragement and inspiration to pursue their own creative dreams.
Admiration of fellow women’s creative pursuits instills constant motivation to push my own limits, to blast through walls of apprehension, and to nourish my ingenuity. I find myself racing home after work, excited to lay out florals, cooking ware, and produce to design a photo vignette. A surge of enthusiasm runs through my veins, a palpable excitement that fuels production of new recipes and baking. My one day off a week from medicine holds endless possibilities: baking, writing, photographing, reading, crafting. Inappropriate self-criticism is starting to wane, as encouragement from friends propels me forward into the new world of sharing my creations. Brene Brown would be so proud. Put aside that self-shaming, believe in yourself, and follow your bliss. Onwards and upwards my friends!