FEATURE: Si Beckwith’s Weekly Thing | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Some words n’ that…

If you do any sort of creative endeavour, then chances are the absolute inner turmoil I’ve outlined below is something you’ve felt. I know the state of the world now throws up people with far worse to deal worth, and a ‘woe is me’ attitude to having the best job in the world isn’t one that is all that necessary, but it’s interesting we all hit lows and often avoid even discussing them for fear of not doing what everyone else would.

It’s that which I wanted to talk about really. Through doing stand-up and writing, it’s became more and more apparent how utterly draining that dangerous feeling of comparing yourself to others can be. It’s a fairly prevalent one for me, and from talking to people I’ve found more and more others, because creativity very much draws in those that aren’t always the most natural at mental stability. (Except maybe the greatest of all, Neil Buchanan, he always has his shit together). Themes of jealousy, insecurity and sometimes utter contempt for those you see to be doing better are rife across most creative endeavours, and it’s just tiring, though no matter how much you’d like those thoughts and feelings to not be there, they are.

For much of the last few months, I’ve had a lot of feelings of not feeling good enough at the thing I love doing most in the world. Truthfully, sometimes I really haven’t been. But the feelings of it maybe outweigh the reality. It’s hard though not to let that all overwhelm you. It’s like, you know you could be dead good at getting on and off a bus, and rarely fall over, but you trip over once and that’s all you’ll think about for months about your bus experiences.

Sorry, but 95% of my ways of understanding the world and analogies involve buses, my Dad used to drive one so it’s probably that…

Anyway, I digress, like a bus going off on a new route….damn it!

It’s easy to not feel good enough if you’re constantly striving to be better. There’s a line in a poem by Polar Bear, where he says something like, “if you got to sleep happy with what you’ve done, you’ll wake up shit in the morning”. It’s true. You should always be thirsty for more. Like the bad guys in Home Alone.

What becomes hard though, is often, when you’re trying, people will surpass you. Lots.

You constantly have people to compare yourself too, your peers, which is then broken down further into subsections of people who started at the same times as you, people after you. Then comes the internal self-loathing or starting to get disillusioned with others’ achievements.

It’s easy to not feel good enough if you’re constantly striving to be better

With anything creative, any level of your own achievement or development can play to the ego. It’s easy for this to thrust itself towards entitlement, and it often does. Even if buried deep down inside, it’s easy for it to lend itself to thoughts of, “why’ve they got that and I haven’t?” Often, it’s because you never put yourself forward in the first place, but still, everyone should just know that you want these things, yes?

I get this feeling more than I’m happy with. It’s almost always my fault if I’ve missed an opportunity. But first comes jealousy and then comes self-loathing. It’s also prevalent for the latter to increase as you feel more guilty about feelings of the former. Then you compare more, like why aren’t other comics like this, and it unravels further.

One of the most talented comics I know was talking about feeling sick with nerves before a gig, and not being sure how long they’ll keep doing comedy for, and not feeling good enough. Sometimes, even though we’re feeling not that special, we forget that we aren’t really in the grand scheme of things, and even the shitty feelings, everyone else gets too. Even if it looks like they’re doing well. There’s real comfort to be had in knowing we’re all filled with utter angst really.

Social media is a tool a lot of people use to showcase a carefully constructed version of themselves to the world and it’s interesting to see the negative reaction confidence and celebrating achievements can get. I know a wonderfully talented yet incredibly modest bunch of people who don’t know how to use the platforms at their disposal to show off how utterly amazing they are. You’ll always get the odd shite hawk who can pedal their wares wonderfully while their talent catches up, these people are never worth getting frustrated with, as talent and hard work always wins through.

It can become a full time occupation feeling constantly entitled, feeling like you’ve not been given the opportunities you should, or you’re shit, or people have surpassed you who shouldn’t have. The truth is, put that effort into working harder or making your own opportunities and you’ll probably be fine.

Comedy as an example is endlessly competitive, with competitions, awards and forever competing with your pals for work. Some people can really make it feel like that too. Some people act like that. Most don’t though, and it’s fucking lush. I’ve met most of my best pals through comedy, and worked on many amazing projects as a result. Does it mean sometimes I don’t feel a tinge of jealousy when sometimes they get an opportunity I wanted. No. But that’s fleeting, and goes, and I couldn’t be happier for them, as they always have more than earned it. The thing I’ve realised a bit better lately though, is it’s cool to have that fleeting feeling too, if you turn that brief moment of jealousy into working harder and creating more.

I’ll leave you with two bits of advice I heard in a podcast with the wrestler William Regal this week, and I am going to paraphrase horribly here, but make everything you do mean something and never assume anyone knows who you are. I found both those things to be helpful.

By Simon Beckwith aged 34 and a quarter.

You can find me on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

I’m also producing and hosting Funslingers Comedy at the South Causey Inn on Friday 14th September which features Steffen Peddie, John Whale, Anja Atkinson and Anth Young. More info here.

Oh, and always end on a song, so this is a lush cover…

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