In today's world, filled with constant self-improvement and social media highlight reels, it’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring our progress against others -or the next up-and-coming influencer. However, the most meaningful benchmark for personal growth lies within — comparing ourselves to who we were yesterday, rather than looking over the fence at The Joneses.
And who am I to talk. Which so many amazing photographers in my space, some of whom are friends, and others who are my direct competitors, some case both, I find myself drawing the occasional comparison every now and again. It's taken me some time recognize that I am great in my own space and be OK while others excel in there own spaces as well.
The journey of self-improvement is deeply personal and unique. It’s like walking through a gallery of your own life, where every piece of art represents a different chapter, a different version of you. Each of these versions has its own story, challenges, and achievements. When we compare our current selves to who we were yesterday, last month, or last year, we’re acknowledging our narrative, our journey, and embracing our journey with its ups and downs.
Consider a tree. It won't grow overnight; it takes years of nurturing, take abuse from nature and humankind alike, and basking in sunlight to reach its towering heights. Also, personal growth is gradual. It’s about the small, sometimes consistent and sometimes not so consistent changes we make each day, the lessons we learn, and the resilience we build. The tree does not concern itself with the forest around it; it simply grows at its own pace, in its own space, and so should you.
That was something I had to come to terms with and something that I try and make sure other new budding photographers, creatives, friends, and new acquaintances - my fellow human beings, understand. That it's not ever a race to the finish or to an end it's a constant journey of patience and appreciation for your perseverance.
Moreover, when we focus on comparing ourselves to others, we’re often looking at a bit and pieces of a whole. It’s like trying to understand the entire story of a book by only reading a sentence here and there. Each journey, like a book, has its narrative, context, and background - our own path, the one that completes the picture. What works for one character may not be the right path for another. By reflecting on and appreciating our own story, we can focus on our growth without the distortion and mess of looking at someone else's context, we are not them.
Looking behind us to see where we started is also a powerful tool for motivation. It fuels our drive to become better, not out of competition or envy, but from a place of self-love and self-respect. Like, damn! I took may have tripped on the way to this point but I'm so glad I was able to get two steps closer to wherever my next goal is. It's about acknowledging our struggles and efforts, celebrating the progress from where we began, and setting goals for our future selves to meet.
In this wild journey called life, it’s important to remember that progress is not always linear. There will be days when we feel like we’ve taken a step back. But even these moments are part of the growth process. They are opportunities to learn, to reassess, and to come back stronger. Our past selves, with their imperfections and triumphs, are the foundation upon which we build our future selves.
So, as we navigate together, let’s turn the lens inward. Let’s celebrate our milestones, learn from our setbacks, and appreciate our unique journey. After all, the most fulfilling growth is the kind that happens when we’re true to ourselves, growing like a tree, strong, steady, and at our own pace. Compare yourself to you, yesterday, and not that other guy.