I think a lot about my future. I’m still in school, I’m unemployed-or as my mother would say, I’m a full time student, which feels a lot like not working-so everything about the future, from the answers to strangers’ questions about what exactly my major has prepared me for and what I hope to do when I “grow up” to where I’ll be in fifty years, might as well be a pool of primordial ooze. I have no answers, just questions. It makes me introspective and annoyingly self interested, but it also has me looking around more than I ever really have. Looking at other people’s plans, other people’s goals, and of course, the things other people create. The problem is in comparing my work to other people’s.
I smell like paint for a while after I wash my hands. The scent always lingers. There are times I never really lose the paint smell. But lately, it’s been rare. What I paint doesn’t seem worth it. I look at my work, and it just looks so clumsy. I start to hate it, and resent myself for making it. It’s hit and miss for the most part. Sometimes things come out looking more or less how I pictured them in my head. Sometimes, they… don’t.
And I think the comparison is what makes it worse. It puts expectations in my head, along with the imagined expectations of those around me. Sometimes I worry that I’m not creative, but subconsciously piggyback on the works of others. I draw from reference photos, and stories I love have a habit of bleeding onto the page when I try to write. But mostly, I think it just makes me look negatively at my own work, rather than inspire me.
I saw an interview with an actress ages ago, I can’t remember who it was now, who was asked by the interview who’s acting career she would like if she could choose. I’m paraphrasing, but her response was essentially this, “I don’t want anyone’s career but my own.” She was focused on her own career. She wasn’t looking around, but ahead. So I tell myself, “Don’t cry alone in your room because you aren’t Neil Gaiman.” I think for the most part, it’s good advice. The world already has a Neil Gaiman, I have to look ahead, and now want anyone’s career but my own.