There’s a kind of sour feeling among productive and creative people which plants its seeds where they mingle with others in their field and the work they come up with. Around this sort of environment, people see and compare what they’ve done and the differences between the works; what embellishes them and defines them deeper or broader than others, what works better or is just more popular. We can see this sort of environment in programming communities, news outlets and confederations of writers, artists and so on. Basically any group or community that houses a medium which members collaborate and build around can see this happen, its something quite ancient and common to us. We see this play out in movies and stories, sometimes a character being the victim of this sour feeling becoming the antagonist, and a moral served up about this subject at the end of the story. To put it simply, it’s the feeling of trying your best but not meeting goals or expectations, or failing to outdo those of others.
This feeling, this discouragement brought on by seeing oneself as the lesser or undeserving part of something, is quite a tragedy for many people. It’s stunted passions and careers, caused discord in attribution to creative works, and — from my experience — caused depression, anxiety and sometimes a loss of interest in something. But while this feeling utterly sucks, and can be bad for us, coping with it is the key. We should realize that we can look at this as a driving instinct to push onward no matter the conditions of what we work in. On one hand, for those willing, its their mental instructor pushing them and not allowing them to quit. It seems synonymous with the approach that there are no limits to anything and to continually expand that concept by moving past what limits other people have set up.
But on the other, for those who either don’t have the capacity or want to move on, it’s a sign of the slow end of that particular road they’re moving forward on. It doesn’t necessarily mean to be the end of that passion or that career, but rather the end of a specific endeavour within that passion. So for example, accepting that the article you wrote on NASA’s discovery of flowing water on Mars wasn’t as good as what Miriam at Mashable wrote, doesn’t mean accepting that your passion in the field of journalism is now finished.
It’s about either pushing forward and doing your best, or accepting where you are or where you’ve been — not giving up or being finished entirely. Somehow I think that some people enjoy being a step below others as a form of modesty and simplicity in what they do. To not take on a major role or to conquer much, but to do and create small, good things and be satisfied with the outcome. Some would think that everyone will gravitate only to the best creations and contributions, but that will only be the case if everyone is discussing one sector of doings and not the fullest span of the subject. If we devote an entire discussion to Picasso’s paintings, of course we are going to only talk about what he has done. But talking about the whole of painting will be more likely to include other painters as well, and this conversation would probably include modest painters among the bold ones.
I think with these things in mind, understanding when to move forward or draw back, and remain in a position where you’re satisfied, we can make this instinct a healthy part of our productive lives. No matter what you’re doing or the quality of your work, you’re still contributing and making something worth absorbing, and thats what matters.