Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Competition

drollgirl takes a printmaking class

pic I took at the end of my first printmaking class


Do you ever feel like everything in life is part of a competition? Like everyone is judged by how smart they are, how pretty or handsome they are, where they went to school, where they work, where they live, how much money they make, how they dress, what they drive, who their friends are, if they are married, if they have children, how successful their blog is, how many "likes" they have on their facebook page, how good their alexa score is, etc., and that all are scrambling to be the "winner" in one or more categories of life? I find this annoying. I suppose that competition/the competitive spirit is a HUGE motivator for most, but I think this tactic is obnoxious. I am wise to the competitive mentality, but I have a bit of a contrarian spirit so I normally try and avoid this behavior.

I recently signed up for a printmaking class. I was an art major long ago, but I haven't made any real art in YEARS, so I was nervous for this class. My former art skills are rusty at best, and my confidence level is pretty low in the creative department. But I ponied up and went to the first class on Saturday. I was SUPER nervous for the class. And even more nervous when it turned out there were only three other students in the class. Eek! I am more of a "back of the class" kind of student that likes to keep a low profile, and when I saw the teacher to student ratio I found it very unnerving! I was even more uneasy when I met the instructor -- a woman that seemed cold, irritable and on edge at having to teach four nitwits that knew little or nothing about printmaking. I wanted to bolt from the class, but I stuck with it.

I was SUPER SKITTISH for our first assignment, as I had ZERO ideas of what image to draw for my first print, and I was a bit uncertain of the technique.  But I shakily fumbled around and came up with a drawing that I made into a print, and it turned out sort of semi okay. And then I looked at the work that each of the other students produced, and I compared my finished product to theirs.  I ASSHOLE-ISHLY came to the conclusion that my fellow students weren't all that talented or skilled -- certainly no more skilled than ME -- and that nobody really presented any COMPETITION to me. And, therefore, I could comfortably stick with the class. How rude to think that! How obnoxious!! Cripes! So if my classmates were super talented I probably would have dropped the class because I was that insecure?!?!? Maybe. Jesus. 

Needless to say, I am trying to tamp down this stupid competitive spirit, and just keep attending the class to LEARN FROM IT and to GET THE MOST OUT OF IT.  And I am going to try to REFRAIN from comparing my work to my fellow students' work, and worrying if their art is better or worse than mine.  Yeesh.

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27 comments:

Dancing Branflake said...

So, you and I have another weird thing in common- I am super duper competitive. Although, on the flip side, if I were to take that class and there were a lot more people better than me (which there probably would be) I would make it my mission to be awesome.

Aline said...

:)

this is going to sound so insanely creepy it has the possibility to ruin our longtime online friendship.

i really like you and i hope that one day, in a bizarre twist of fate, we meet irl.

Jen: Sunsets and Swimming Pools said...

First of all! I hate it when you talk crazy-time like this. Do you not look at your fucking amazing photos and the genuine creative eye it takes to A.See what YOU see and B.Take the damm shot so perfectly? Look, if it makes you feel any better, when my first husband left me for another woman? I was in deep-deep-DEEP despair until I met her. She was short, not as pretty or charming as me and that MADE MY YEAR!!!! Hello!! My names Shallow and I'm a Shallowholic. ;) We ALL are in one way or nuther.

Cheryl Ann said...

dude - it's unavoidable. i bet even mother theresa judged someone in her day....we're not fucking saints!

i have all the confidence in the world you'll rock that class - regardless of bitchy instructor or talented COMPETITION ;)

Lynn said...

I don't know here. I don't have a competitive gene in my body, yet you sound a lot like me. (back of the class, etc.) I consider you to be an artist - for the record.

melifaif said...

I am giggling so hard. Glad you are sticking with it.....I bet you will love everything else you design too. Very cool....good luck.

mermaid gallery said...

that's the old ego again...can't live with it ...can't live without it....annoying, but necessary for our survival....if it makes us try harder...it's good...if it makes us feel superior....ya well....we just can't bloody help it!!!!relax and enjoy the process....all my mother cared about was....what people thought ....who gives a shit really?.....it's all about being creative...cause that makes us feel awesome!

Caroline said...

How successful your blog is...lol. How many followers? How many people like your page? Ugh...

I suggest you just enjoy yourself...what an awesome sounding class. Can't wait to see what you create!

Trissta said...

May I just say that I, for one, do not have an uber competitive side, so I don't know what you're talking about? Psych. If you put me in a ring with somebody, I'm bound to knock a bitch out. It's normal to compare yourself to others, and usually feel superior, just like they're going to compare their own work to yours. In my undergrad we always did group critiques to motivate each other to do better. Most of the time people ended up with big heads and considered themselves to be better designers, but in the end, they ended up falling flat on their faces because they felt there was no room for improvement... that's what keeps me in check now... There's always room for improvement no matter where you are or what you're doing. Your strengths stem from weaknesses, while your strengths become your weaknesses. It's a never ending cycle. :) And wow. That totally would be some motivational speech. From me. Jesus Christ... the world is ending.

Much Love,
Trissta

Daniela said...

I think competition is programmed into our brain from as early as kindergarden. you're completely normal for thinking it and have figured out you want to avoid it, which is better than most bitches you like to rub shit in your face.

Chantel said...

Survival of the fittest is the foundation of nature, my love, it's genetic. Just be glad we're past the cave-man barbarian gladiator days....wait, now there's the Housewives.

Ps. I think my comment was the most appropriate, don't you?

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Well said! I think it is one of those crazy, human nature, caveman originated type of tendencies. That and crazy competition created in grade school. If you're not competitive, you're mediocre.

But in the rest of life, we do have to enjoy it and get the most out of it!

p.s. Thanks for your sweet comment. Yeah there is too much drama to rehash on the blog, but it is also a result of some competition (I never wanted part of). Like Aline, I would love to meet you some day and hope that isn't weird!

Phoenix said...

I won't pretend that every single acting class I've ever been in, I've done the same.exact.thing. :)

Whatever! We're competitive! And it's probably because you want to take pride in your work. I bet you're less competitive about the things you know you suck at and you're able to just have a good time (that's me whenever I play mini-golf, or play pool, or darts, or anything else that requires hand eye coordination). So remember that sometimes it's okay to be competitive and have an ego because otherwise you wouldn't know what things mattered to you.

Just don't get lost in it, or become a douche, and you'll be fine. :)

Sara said...

Wow, I know this feeling well! If I walked into that class and saw only 3 other people there, I would have turned and ran the other way. It's so easy to compare yourself to others, whether that means you're putting yourself down or laughing at your competition. I feel like a little competitive spirit keeps you working at your best, but it's hard not to get caught up in who "wins" and who "loses". Can you post some photos of your prints you made? I'd love to see them!

jenn~the stylish housewife said...

the older i get, the less i care about what everyone else has. and then add in having a kid and now all of the sudden i couldn't even care less about the car i drive. god, hopefully i still care what i look like in a few years...lol! LOVE the blog competition line. ha ha! glad you are sticking with the class!!!

xoxo, jenn
the stylish housewife

SabinePsynopsis said...

A. The whole competitive spirit is a BIG mind fuck, designed to keep us all unhappy because there's always someone better than us and keeping us in a rat race because we always try to get 'better' than others (this sadly doesn't mean I'm not affected by it...)

B. It doesn't matter for what reasons - good you're sticking to the class because I KNOW you're an artist with a great eye!

I love having my outspoken moments :)

Claire Kiefer said...

I think some of what you're talking about is unfortunately human nature. We all thrive in areas in which we feel confident. Good for you for pushing your boundaries (and making a commitment to something that is every Saturday--haha). Btw, what the heck is an Alexa score? This is the second time today I have read about it on a blog and I have never heard about it. Enlighten me?!

Kitty Stampede said...

I can be so damn hard on myself too. it's terrible. it's so superficial and i try to beat that part of my ego up, or at least try and shut it up. i find the ego is like super psychotic too. makes you think all these uber retarded thoughts, comparing yourself, art, whatever to other people. so annoying.

it's so bad that at work, the doggy daycare job i take most of the pictures of the dogs, put them on the facebook page, frame them and put the around the center,etc... am kind of known for as the "photographer" around the joint. well, my co-worker jay who can't take a photo for shit, red eyes, only shots looking straight down, etc...wants to start using his photos and i don't want people to think i'm taking them...haha, cause they are just not, well good at all. but there is no way i can tell him this. but it irks me that he wants to jump on the bandwagon too...it's like back off buddy, i'm taking care of the photos, ass.

diane said...

Yo Drolly, beat yourself up much? Give yourself a break, really, maybe a little va-ca.
Competition helps us make sense of why we're on this planet. We're always trying to figure things out, and as we get older we can be very unforgiving of ourselves. Take it from someone who has been obsessed with "the answer" for, like, ever. Try not to be so hard on yourself honey.
Nice photo. Honestly, I think it's really good.

hope505 said...

...well it's great that you're so SELF-REFLECTIVE! Seriously! But you totally hit the nail on the head: it's the comparison that's gonna give you misery. If anything, compare your own work...from the beginning of the class to your work at the end of the class...
* : )
and your teacher...can get OVER herself...the only difference between her and you is a little knowlege, and maybe a few sold pieces of what someone considers "art".
*HA.

The art world is ~ so ~ funny that way...I got a front-row seat to ALL that, here in Santa Fe...come on up here...I'll be your, uh, "confidence coach", and YOU can be teaching art classes. Then we'll hit up Jackalope. * ; p

Kristine said...

Kudos to you for taking the class and not walking out when there were only three people present! I am a back of the class gal as well and I would have run out the door immediately. I think that oscillation between feeling crippled by insecurity and feeling cocky is what happens when you are creative and self reflective. That's why they call them tortured artists I guess. Keep on trucking and printing and reflecting!And keep on being you! Add me to the list of creeps who would love to meet you. Are you getting freaked out that you have this posse of admirers/wanna be stalkers?

bananas. said...

but you ARE way more talented....DUH! ;)

lol.

no really i know exactly what you're saying. it's definitely annoying and yet most people still live that way of life in some form or another. myself included.

TK Kerouac said...

You get to compete against yourself now in that class:)

wouldn't it be great to get to a point where we are content enough with our own selves and talents. Where we can admire someone else but still be ok with our own strengths.

Chantalle said...

That's a nice little honest self assessment :) I am super competitive when I want to be, but also extremely laid back when I just don't feel like being part of anything. Weird how that works out.

And there's nothing worse than showing up to a class with such a low teacher - student ratio. I once showed up to a zumba class, and I was the ONLY student. Yeah, it was awkward.

ana b. said...

Oh I feel you on this. I also think competitiveness can get toxic and obnoxious and I'm more into making sure everyone is having a good time and has a drink in hand. But hey, I think there is nothing wrong with feeling proud that you are better at something than others! I think that should be celebrated. As long as you don't go up to the others and shout "HA! SUCK IT!" then I think it's all good.

I like this printmaking class you've signed yourself up for. Was it a brave thing for you to do? I keep thinking of all the night classes I want to take (creative writing, photography, etc etc etc) and I always chicken out in the end.

Lara said...

Ya know... good for you for signing up for a class... period! I think it's awesome that you want to try new things!

I play like I'm not competitive but I would've felt the exact same way - proud to have out-skilled the others! Ha!

I can't wait to see what you've done in class!

十十f十 said...

read this post some days back and had wanted to respond.. many thoughts then and now, yet i don't really know how to write them down. i feel so 'connected' when you write stuff like that. real stuff that people deal with. such activities seem to be popular where i am. i'm interested yet i'm really not so interested that i wanna embarrass myself again... i was brought back to that time when i felt so 'extra' in that art competition. to have to disappoint my ma yet again...