The same question has been popping up lately in my world. It’s come up in myself. It’s come up with people I think are successful. And it’s come up with people who are trying to find their big break.
That question is variations of “Why didn’t I get that?”
When my peers get big – or even small – successes in their lives, I used to constantly ask myself (or the universe, whoever was more open to listening at the time), “Why didn’t I get that?”
When talking to people who are in early stages of their career or who are trying to figure out how to pursue creativity as a career, I’ll often hear then bemoan about people who are in similar boats to them who have found some traction. They’ll ask variations of “Why didn’t I get that?”
Even people who are successful will look at others who have made different choices and wonder, “Why didn’t I get that?”
It’s a natural question. We’re creatures who love to compare. But it’s even more potent at the moment in a world where we share more information than ever before, so it’s easier and more addictive to compare yourself to others than it has been throughout human history.
Though the question is natural, it’s not helpful. And the longer you entertain it, the more it will lead you down a spiraling path where entitlement and victimhood are unhealthily entangled.
The truth isn’t what you want to hear. The truth is, you didn’t get that because it wasn’t meant for you. It was never your thing. It was always the thing of whoever has it. And the longer you bemoan the loss of something that wasn’t yours, the more opportunities that could be yours pass you by.
The best advice I’ve recently heard about changing this same perspective into a more positive and productive one is from a person who is killing it in their respective field at the moment. They said their major mental shift came from thinking “Why isn’t the world giving me what I want?” to “What can I do to really make an impact on the world?”
Not to get all JFK on you, but ask not what your creativity can do for you, but ask what you can do for your creativity.
The more you lean into what you really want to do and the type of content you want to create, you start to inevitably become more unique. And the opportunities that are unique to your particular perspective and interests start to appear. And those feel more tangible and more uniquely you because you’re creating tangible things that are more uniquely you.
It’s about remembering your why. Why are you doing whatever you’re doing? Why do you want to do it? What is it that originally drew you to this world? What makes you stick around or keep coming back even when it’s difficult?
Once you understand and lean into that, your interest in comparisons diminishes. It doesn’t really matter to you what other people are doing because you’re not doing it for the outcomes they’re receiving. You’re doing it because of the reasons you remind yourself. You’re doing it for the purposes of really making an impact. You’re doing it because you love it and you need it.
Accolades are fine. But spending your life staring at the accolades of others and wondering “Why didn’t I get that?” seems like a boring existence, if you ask me.
And you didn’t. But you’re reading this. So I’ll pretend you did.
You didn’t get something because you did get other things. So recognize, embrace, and utilize what you’ve got and use it to make your unique mark.
Or don’t. I can’t control ya.