Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happiness inside yourself

There's an interesting phenomenon I sometimes encounter in the SCA - and in the mundane world as well - wherein the idea of self-satisfaction has been completely removed from the individual and placed upon others. This sometimes plays off mildly with moments of cranky and sometimes seems to lead to intense dissatisfaction with almost everything.

There are two key facets to this I've been contemplating.  The first is that someone else doing something they enjoy does not reduce or depreciate the thing you enjoy.  We all have vastly different interests and its important that we give ourselves - and our populace - the opportunity to pursue those interests.   Events do better when they are open to any number of those interests and offer activities that hit more than one area. We've seen this again and again with "specific" events that cater to only one subsection which then do substantially better if other interest areas are pulled in in various ways (Art Sci and Scots Welsh being combined, for example.)  Not only does this offer more people a chance to be involved, but it does not in any way depreciate whatever the original focus was.  Essentially, just because everyone is not enjoying the exact same experience or moment doesn't make anyone's choices invalid.

The second facet is the nasty habit of comparing our own work or progress to others. This is, admittedly, human nature, but it leads to all sorts of dissatisfaction.  I'm not speaking of competitions here - that tends to be another kettle of fish - but the general self assessessment of your work and worth compared to others. This is so hard to stop - I still struggle with as do many Laurels I suppose - but its vital to actually being happy with yourself. Instead of going "that person is a better scribe" try focusing on "I did so much better on this scroll than the last."  Variations in style alone mean that comparing one person's work to another is difficult at best. 

It's possible - likely even - that we are *all* good scribes or artists and are all learning and none of us need to decide who is better than the other.  We can all belong to the artistic community without needing to best our fellows or continually compare ourselves to their speed, ability, or progress. Work for you. Work to improve and enjoy your art. The rest comes out in the wash.

1 comment:

  1. Well, dang... Have you been hanging out in my brain recently? I've had these and similar topics on my mind the past few days, myself, but it was especially good timing to read the bit about comparing yourself to others.

    It seems to be such a simple concept to grasp, at least in theory: That no two paths will ever be exactly the same, no two gaits will perfectly synchronize, no two sets of eyes are going to perceive things along the path even if the path's scenery remains consistent. It's realistic and logical to agree to this, yet we all seem to find ways to deny ourselves of that knowledge and fight against it.

    I had a particularly rough rapier practice today. Issues within myself regarding my hobby that I thought I had finally gotten a handle on revealed themselves to me again. I got incredibly emotional afterward because I wasn't living up to my completely unrealistic expectations and personal standards set out for myself. The feelings made no sense, because I knew I had no real reason to be upset. Getting upset only made me more upset, and even though I knew I would get over it and continue onward, I was frustrated that I continued to struggle with unreasonable mentality.

    Reading your thoughts on this issue has considerably helped improve my outlook about these sorts of things. Couldn't have come upon it at a better time even if I tried. Thank you for writing!