Last weekend I attended a local author signing at a Barnes & Noble near my house. It ran Saturday and Sunday from eleven until two with different authors filling the tables each day. Many of my friends chose to take part Saturday believing there would be more traffic than Sunday but because of my day job schedule I attended Sunday instead. From what I have heard the amount of traffic was about the same on both days. Some authors sold significantly more while others like myself were more greeters than sellers.
Approximately halfway through the event I found myself looking around at the four other tables and playing a horrible game in my head called How Are They Better Than Me? It is an involuntary game I play where I compare my sales, abilities or some other aspect of myself to those around me. The group I was with consisted of a woman that wrote a series currently being optioned for a television show, an Indie author that also has worked with Harlequin books for over a decade but does her own Indie books as well and a local Indie publisher with more than ten titles and four authors on hand so one can stand out in front and intercept any person approaching the area before they might get to someone other than his group.
I was intimidated to say the least. I did end up making some sales and handing out swag and business cards but I was on the verge of tears for almost an hour while this horrible comparison played out in my head. It is unhealthy. It is unnecessary and frankly it is just plain irritating to go through that. For me there are aspects of this mentality I fight daily. Those that have followed me know I have the anxiety disorder PTSD and battle with dramatic self esteem issues everyday but this particular case goes deeper than that. I know so many people that struggle with one area of their life or another and it is because we compare ourselves to others without knowing the entire story then judge ourselves based on our own skewed perceptions.
We drive ourselves crazy and I am hoping to make real progress in ending the cycle in the coming year. There will always be someone doing things better, making it look easier and finding success where we flounder. It is just important to remember that while you are watching someone make things look easy in front of you there is probably someone staring at you from behind thinking the exact same thing.