I've started working with a number of new students this semester, and the first thing that strikes me this time of year is our innate tendency to compare ourselves against others. These moments when self worth plummets in a moment of beginner's discomfort are so painful to watch, to attempt to live through and to not take too close to heart. I just want to scream: "Please don't look at anyone else, please just focus on your own work and abstract yourself from the rest of the group, please just stay within your project'. But it's easier said than done.
I have to say I suffer from incessant comparison of myself to others as well. I'm terrible in every class setting, looking around, trying to catch another poor soul that might be struggling as much as I am. I do much better in solitude, when I can only have conversations in my head about how to move forward, not backward. But there're times when I can go inside myself even in the midst of a communal experience and question myself as to what could be my ideal next step. I just convince myself that I'm here for my personal development, that I need to progress as an artist, as an athlete, as a mom, and then I succeed in truly looking within myself and analyzing how to do exactly what I need to do to make that incremental leap.
That is perhaps what needs to happen in a class setting as well. It is as much of a therapy session as an artistic experience. It needs to force us to look within, to question why we came, to demand a personal result. And it's my job to show both kids and adults just how to do that in a setting of an art class, to direct them to move deep inside their souls, as opposed to suffer from dependency on others' recognition.