The Gift of Comparison

Have you ever looked at another creative and thought,

They sound better than me
They look better than me
They have got it all together, and I’m a mess!

How does that feel in your body?

Pretty awful, right?

I can remember showing up to dance auditions and dreading if I was put in the same group to dance as certain dancers.  There they would be, with their long legs, perfect bodies, and glowing confidence, and I would panic, thinking the choreographer would never look at me.

Even though I didn’t want to be feeding the voice in my head telling me how I DIDN’T measure up, I would spiral, and as a result have crappy auditions and performances.

Comparison.

UGH!

Comparison is a real issue because it keeps your nervous system in a state of fight or flight.  With every thought of,
this person is better than me
this person has something better than me

your whole nervous system is in fear, because you are constantly monitoring for what is unfavorable.

This is no way to live, my dear one.
And certainly no way to create our best or perform our best.

And this was proven to me time and again.

But there was something magical that happened when I did perform my best.
There was something completely different happening when the choreographer would gleefully hire me.

There’s a way to turn this around, because we ALL feel it. You are not alone, and I want to give you some powerful tools so comparison doesn’t take you out any longer.

 

So, let’s start with the moment of comparison.

You’re looking at someone else and thinking,
they have it and I don’t

If we stopped here, the result would be toxic.  But, let’s allow the comparison to actually point us towards what you DO want.

What is it EXACTLY this other Creative possesses?

Is it confidence?
Is it ease in front of their audience?
Is it a powerful presence in their performance?
Is it words that jump off the page?

Take the comparison as an opportunity to understand what you CRAVE.  And here’s the juicy part…now CLAIM it for yourself.

Give yourself PERMISSION to claim this.

Allow yourself to tap into all that is powerful in you.

For myself as a dancer, I used to marvel at the EASE of these other dancers.  They would remember the combination effortlessly and be able to really PERFORM, bringing themselves to the dance.  They stood out because they were relaxed.

So this was what I worked on. This is what I claimed, and the results were completely different.

Your desires are actually pointing you towards your aliveness, towards your unique light.  Let them REMIND you what you CAN have and embody.

Instead of bringing you down, comparison is actually pointing you towards what needs permission to thrive.
You truly have all you need….it’s all there inside you.

 

Comparison can also be our way of being terrified.  As Creatives and Performers, we can be terrified of being seen, of being magnetic to our audience.

So, comparison can be used as an unconscious way to stay small.

Small in our Art
Small in our words
Small in our actions

Standing in that audition room, looking at another redheaded dancer who has Broadway credits, I would think,
If she really is that good of a dancer, if she really is that talented, then who am I to chase my dreams? Who am I to stand in my worthiness and claim this moment?

Have you ever felt this?

I certainly did…….

Because it can be terrifying to fully FEEL your power as a Creative; to fully feel you are limitless.

SLOW down and ask,
Where am I hiding?
Where am I terrified?
Where am I giving myself an excuse?

And all from a place of empathy.  There is actually no problem here.  There is so much shame that gets put around comparison and jealousy and self deprecation. Finger pointing never works, but inquiry and curiosity does.

I’m here today to lovingly tell you, there’s nothing wrong with you.  You are not broken.  You’ve just been scared.

AND, you have the power to flip it.

When comparison arises, you can say,
I’m comparing!

Then USE it, slow down, and turn the light around.  Shine it within to gain clarity around what you truly WANT and where you are hiding.

 

So, take a moment right now, and write down what you are going to CLAIM starting today.
Use this to bring you back to empowerment.

 

Step out of the shadows.  Your light is brilliant.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Separation Anxiety

CONGRATULATIONS NIKOL!  You’ve just been hired for the Broadway production of Hairspray!

OH MY GOSH!!  This is my dream!  This is what I always wanted!

Hugging myself in elation, I look at the casting director and say,
Thank YOU! 

 

Sounds amazing, right?

 

It’s 2003.  Hairspray is blowing up the box office after winning the Tony Award for Best New Musical.

I go to see the show, with stars in my eyes, seeing myself up on the stage.  The show is dynamic, alive, and perfect for me. I can’t wait to audition!

So, the day comes, and I show up, along with about 200 other women to sing a whopping 8 bars of music, the equivalent of about 30 seconds.  I belt my face off, and I get a callback!

I’m over the moon, because it’s the first time I’ve been called back by this casting office, which is the top casting office in the city.  Even better, they aren’t just looking at me for the ensemble, but the understudy for one of the lead roles.

They give me this thick packet of songs and scenes and I have a week to work on them.

And I do.

I pour all my energy and heart into the callback material, and a, really excited because not only am I strong dancer, I’m a strong singer too!

And I feel it…this is my BIG chance!

I walk into the callback, and all I see are all these women,
…and all these women,
…and all these women.

I thought because it was an invited call, there would be 20-25 women there.  I thought I had made it to the next level, I thought I had arrived.  Looking around, this was just another cattle call.

And all I could think was,
I’m not competing against a FEW, I’m competing against a HUNDRED! How do I stand out?

I go into the room to learn the combination, and I’m completely in my head.  I can’t seem to pick up anything.  It’s as if I have two left feet. I’m so worried how I’m looking and how I’m going to get kept, that I can’t get back in my body.

My turn comes up, and I completely bomb.
And I’m cut.

Inside my head voices were screaming, “NO!  This show is perfect for me!”

I go up to the associate choreographer, who I know, and beg her to let me stay.  Because she knows me, she gives me another chance.

I learn the second combination, but I can’t see straight. Nothing is making sense, and I get cut AGAIN.

As I walked out of the room, I looked at the women that were being kept to sing, and all I saw was competition.  All I did was compare myself.

I went out onto the NYC street, in the pouring rain and sunk down onto the concrete sidewalk and called my mother, absolutely inconsolable.

What had happened in that audition room?
Why couldn’t I dance?

 

Has this ever happened to you?

It’s your BIG moment, your time to shine and you’ve completely bombed.  You’ve worked so hard and then couldn’t deliver in your performance.

So, what actually happens in this moment?

Well, we go into comparison, and then a process begins;
1) We disconnected from our bodies, shutting down.
2) We then isolate, and put up a wall.
3) Behind that wall, we go into self judgement and shame.

So, how do we meet this and get past it?

The answer is actually something you may not think of at first.
The answer is Your Audience.

Here’s my big idea for you:

You are not separate from your Audience.

 

So what does that mean and how does that help you as you are stuck in competition and shut down in your performance?

Well, let’s play a game! Why don’t we put ourselves in the place of our audience?

So, there they are. They are sitting looking up at you, and they are enraptured. Why? Well, they are enraptured because they are seeing a piece of themselves in you. But what’s important is WHAT that piece IS. It’s something very personal for them and it’s something that they want desperately to live. The only way it’s living in this moment is through you, through whatever that expression is you are putting out.

You’re allowing your audience to access that piece of themselves, giving them the permission slip for life so this part of them doesn’t whither and die.

That’s the effect you HAVE on your audience.

Now…let’s jump back into your body, UP on the stage. What is your role in this? Well, this is the first part of the process, and it means you don’t separate from yourself.

It means you aren’t jumping up into your head, and cutting yourself off, and isolating behind a wall. It means you are grounded in three the solid keys to performance:
1) WHO you are
2) WHAT you are talking about
3) A clear INTENTION behind what you are trying to say.

And it’s because you come to the stage with honesty, that allows your audience member to see you. There is no wall, because you are showing up fully present and clear.

So, you arrive, not separated from yourself, which allows your audience to see and keep that precious part of themselves alive.  Now you have created a beautiful loop that allows you to tell your creative story again and again, and your audience a very real reason to return again and again.

You feel connected and fulfilled, and your audience is raving, because they feel alive from your work.

 

The key to putting your work out to the world is your Audience.

Back in that audition room in 2003, I completely separated from myself, and forgot WHY I was there, and WHO my audience was!  I wasn’t connecting with the artistic team of Hairspray, I was too busy comparing myself.

I found myself in this place time and again in my performance career because I didn’t have the tools to come out of isolation and truly shine.

Everything turned around when I as able to do two things:
1) Take Risks
2) Embrace Imperfection.

This led me to realize, I actually had way more in common with those around me.  I realized I’m not separate from my audience.

We’ve all been there and had our moment in the rain when we have been so hungry to be SEEN and HEARD in our Art.

There’s a way to drop that wall you’ve put up between you and your audience, so you can truly receive the acclaim you desire.

And it begins with seeing what you have in common.

So, come out of comparison, and place your energy on your intention. Place your energy on what is unique and honest to YOU in your Art.

Your audience wants what you have.

So, bust down your walls and connect with them.