I find it far easier to give something up altogether than to indulge moderately . . .
If I try to be moderate, I exhaust myself debating. –Gretchen Rubin
Years ago, everywhere I turned, someone was hosting a party – Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Stampin’ Up, Longaberger Baskets. I didn’t enjoy these events, always feeling obligated to make a purchase that my budget couldn’t support. Finally, I decided to abstain from such parties. It was just easier to say, “No thanks, I don’t go to parties.” I wasn’t tempted to spend money I didn’t have and more importantly, I began to assert my right to say No without negotiation.
Recently, I’ve devoted a fair amount of energy trying to decide if I should enter my photographs in one or two local juried exhibitions. A friend once said to me “You’ll do anything for a blue ribbon.” She hit a nerve because she was, of course, correct. It’s been my way to seek reassurance from sources outside myself, seldom listening or fully trusting my own voice.
In David duChemin’s book, A Beautiful Anarchy, he discusses the subject of competition and comparison.
Competition encourages us not to look in but look out, to create not first to please ourselves or express some ineffable thing, but to please another. What magic, I wonder, do we attribute to these judges that they can pin a ribbon, a score out of ten, on this work and not that?
Make your art, and allow yourself to be inspired by theirs. Life is too short to worry about how you stack up; it’s not a race. The reward is in the work itself, and the discovery in that work of the person you’re becoming.
From now on my answer will be, “No, thanks. No more juried shows for me.” And with one simple declaration, I’ve eliminated lots of little decisions and reinforced my self-confidence. My work requires no votes to be authentic.