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Thoughts and words by fine art photographer: Langston Bowen for why “it’s okay not to be the best.” In this guest post Langston shares his highs and lows, and offers advice for creatives, while also touching base on mental well-being. To learn more about the importance of not being “the best”, continue onwards.
Why You Don’t Have to Be the Best by Langston Bowen
As a fine art photographer two of my most common questions are: “How do you come up with such original concepts?” and “How do you seem to keep getting better and keep things fresh even after doing so many shoots?”
The answers for these questions all have a similar tone, or rather they stem from one source. They then sprout into others. Simply put, it is understanding that you must believe and trust your own process because none of it comes overnight, and sometimes not for a few years. Understand that you won’t be a master when you first start out. There will be many long nights and years that will pass you by. You will be unsure if the seeds are growing under the soil, and there will be a lot of mental hurdles to overcome.
Know that you will not always be the best in every room you walk in, especially as that room (The Internet) continues to grow.
The first step to your own personal walk as an artist is to self-evaluate your talent. Have a realistic sense and stop trying to believe that you are the second coming of Picasso oozing with immense talent. That said, below are some important steps I took for my own personal growth.
First and foremost, Learn.
I told myself that even if I found a style that I like, I must continue to learn other styles and methods. This stimulated my mind to think differently and help me understand my craft from other perspectives. It allowed me to develop a more refined and broader palette for the multiple aspects of what I love.
Second, is to Be Yourself.
Don’t let social media personalities and Youtubers define who you are. Remember this: if you have something unique you want to say, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a million followers. You will realize that the million followers that another may have will probably not be into the same thing that you do, and your followers may not really love what that other person with millions is doing. Coming to this conclusion sooner rather than later will help keep you grounded in your purpose and artistry.
And finally, fail.
Allowing yourself to fail will be the single most invaluable thing you will ever do. Don’t be afraid to continue the journey. It is inevitable you will fall flat on your face a few times. Too often, we get wrapped up in where someone else is (refer back to point 2). We think we need to be perfect in execution all of the time, but in reality, the refined product you may see someone else sharing is not what we think.
However, we won’t get there unless we keep trying new things. Every swing won’t hit and every swing that lands won’t be a home run. Sometimes we have to take it one base at a time until eventually, we do knock it out of the park. And when we do, it will be amazing, and we will appreciate it all the more.
Also, Trust Your Gut.
To be completely honest, trusting your gut will lead you to where you want to be. Forget about looking at everyone around you, and allow yourself to continue moving forward at the pace that you desire. You have the keys to the door that needs to open. Though, if you are just trying to do the same thing as the next man you won’t ever fulfill your own destiny. Realize that YOUR purpose will be so drastically different. Not only will it be different from the next person, but it will also be different from what you initially thought when you first decided to pursue the path of listening to what your heart wants.
Having said that, 10 years ago I would have told you that I was going to be a professional musician. Though now I am still creating, I am creating in an entirely different way. At the time, everyone around me was joining bands and making music. I wasn’t living my dreams, but rather, trying to be part of another’s. Fast forward 10 years and I wish I listened to my heart so much sooner. I wish started my desires to create art that meant something to me earlier, and I wish I jumped on my own creative timeline so that, at this very moment, I could be even further.
However, at the same time, I don’t completely regret not starting sooner. Because, I met a lot of amazing people along the way, which taught me a lot about myself. Which, brings me to my last point of taking things at your own pace.
Go At Your Own Pace.
Going at your own pace is how you will see things differently than the people who are in it for a quick dollar. There is a difference with those who invest their heart and soul into their craft. These are the ones who care more about being the best. The latter are the ones who are never the best. Yet, they are the ones who care about being true to their nature and are the ones who end up highly revered with the most coveted pieces of art.
The concern should never be about your standings. It should be about the process of losing yourself in your creativity and letting it take you to new heights. Let this art journey be the thing that helps you wake up and keeps you late at night. Let it, because you simply cannot put it down. If art is calling you, don’t worry about being the best. Focus on being excited to create, because that will bring about the best possible YOU.