Apples and Oranges

I was browsing through my Twitter feed when this caught my eye:

stop comparing

This is something Alex tells me every day, not just in my writing, but in all aspects of my life. For a long time I’ve lived with the philosophy that I have to be as good as everyone else, if not better. So when it came to measuring success, comparison was naturally the path I took. 

Unfortunately, this is an awful way to live, especially when you take AP classes and it seems like everyone in the room is a hundred times smarter than you. And as Sara Crawford says in her article:

Comparing yourself to other writers is not only unproductive — it can be downright harmful.

And it is. It’s a daily source of anxiety for me. I look at myself and say, “I’m 23. So many other people have published novels when they were even younger than I am. Why haven’t I?” I constantly worry that I’m not successful enough to be considered anything but useless, and I feel as though I have nothing to show for myself because I don’t have a long list of author credits or a slew of clients sending me offers for freelance work. Because other people are successful, that must mean my lack of success makes me inferior, right?

Wrong.

I know it’s wrong. I’m still having trouble coming to terms with this fact, but I know that I’m wrong. I know that the way I work is different from other people. I know that I learn things differently from other people my age, and that I have a different skill set than others. I know all of these things that should pull me out of this mindset of comparing myself to others.

Because comparing yourself to anyone else is like comparing apples and oranges. They’re both fruit, but that’s just about the only thing they have in common. Nobody is going to fault an orange for not being able to grow in Massachusetts or for not tasting good with cinnamon. Life just doesn’t work like that. Writing doesn’t work like that either, otherwise we would all be writing Stephen King novels, and nobody wants that.

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