On Monday, a friend at nature group told me that her son has a nature journal, but feels that everyone’s art is better than his and doesn’t want to share. While not sharing is completely okay, I am saddened by her son’s (and my kids’) comparison to others. Cambria does it with reading; Elijah does it with art. I do it too, mostly with homeschooling, but I’m consciously trying to stop.
I’m trying to stop, because it is a negative habit and it never makes me feel better. Comparison to what others have and can do, focuses our minds on what we don’t have and can’t do. The negativity builds on negativity and, I find, it’s hard to dig myself out of the downward spiral.
If I compare my nature journal art to someone’s journal who has more experience, I see only my deficit, not my progress. If, instead, I look at the person’s journal and seek out tips and new ideas and greater understanding of my potential, that’s an active, positive choice. The person who has dedicated more time to a given skill could be looked upon as a mentor, not necessarily a peer in a particular area of expertise.
We are all focusing on different things in our lives and accomplishing different talents that are our individual, favorite ways to spend our time. In our household, we spend time journaling, but I would never compare my work to John Muir Laws and feel discouraged. I am inspired. Inspired to be better at something that I enjoy. I don’t spend hours a day drawing (or even minutes most days)…How could I reach that level without more investment in myself? Without more trial and error? I can’t, and that’s okay, but I do appreciate the progress I have seen in my journal.
On that note, I thought it would be fun to do some comparing on a different level. Comparisons of our individual journals. We have changed and grown and progressed and, since we’ve kept journals for several years, it’s fun for the kids and me to see our development — without comparing it to others!
Cambria’s rough-skinned newt in 2013:
Two years later:
Elijah’s great egret in 2013:
Beginning of 2014:
End of 2014:
My great egret from January, 2013:
It was so fun to look through our old journals and see our amazing progress!
After-note: A few days after I wrote my this post, I came across this quote by Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist. (Instead of saying:) “That’s just the way I am,” replace it with, “That’s something I really need to work on.” Love it!