There are few phrases stated in my life that have marred me so succinctly.
“You should never try to sing in public. Don’t show up to these auditions again.” - College professor
“You will never get a job in this field.” - Different college professor (also the professor who made the sign of the cross on me and said “Go with God” to end a conversation.)
“You are so average there’s nothing I can do with you.” - Casting agent.
”She’s better than you.”
The moment I was told this - the full experience - creeps up on me in various moments. It happens less often, as the other phrases have lost impact over time, but even the memory slices horrifically still.
It was said in a moment of honest anger. I was physically backed up to a door and he was emotionally backed into a corner. The truth hurts. He knew all of my fears and insecurities and how to land the final blow. With the one phrase, the barest of sentences, he negated everything positive he ever told me. He cut through the layers of safety and trust to gouge at the place within myself I have fought against for the majority of my life.
Growing up I was tiny. Not like “oh she’s such a cute little girl” tiny, but small in such a way that it was obvious there was a medical problem. (I’ll go more into that another time...) Because I was so small *everyone* was taller, faster, stronger, more agile, etc. than me. I exceeded academically, expect for spelling... (and boy do I still struggle with that) but I was never at the top of my class. I could place, but I could rarely win.
Someone is always better than you.
I ended up becoming a professional artist.
Every field of employment is competitive in some way, but let us be very honest about the type of competition artist live with on a daily basis. Not only do we have to fight with ourselves to create, we fight with our competition, and clients, but we also fight with society and the American culture with how artists/creatives should be valued.
You could say this is a “woe-is-me” moment, but there should be a long hard look at how ANY industry would survive and evolve without the help of the creative force. Artists, corporate or private, are trounced all over constantly....
But I digress.
He knew all of these struggles: the physical ones, academic, artistic, financial, health, etc.
He knew my struggles with my self-perception and body image.
He knew my insecurities.
He knew and he made choices based on and/or to counter the information.
He knew how to strike and he did.
Part of why I am writing about it, the biggest part, is to take that power away from anyone else who might feel they can use any of this against me again.
”She’s better than you.”
There’s no erasing that moment.
There’s no denying what ever truth he spoke.
There’s no changing its affect on me.
Right now, in this moment in my life, I am combating depression, anxiety attacks, and flight or fight mode. I am trying to accept that there is *always* going to be a mountain of people better than me, no matter the topic.
Right now, I feel as though I am just a droplet in the ocean. I will not stand out. I will not make an impact. I will continue to be average and struggle with my own self-acceptance. I’ve felt that way for a very long time and the one sentence reinforced a plethora of other moments I’ve already lived through which have diminished my self-perception.
Right now, I want to accept that I am never going to be the best in any field; yet I want to strive to become a positive impact nonetheless. I cannot change the creative force inside me. I cannot quell the hunger for knowledge. I want to accept myself despite the horrific experiences of the past and become stronger than I was yesterday. I want to become better than me.