Comparisons Part I (Mara Thomas, ASBX blog post 003)

In general, comparing yourself to Patti Smith is a terrible idea. I don’t recommend it. But there I was, not yet 30 years old, reading her then-newly published Just Kids and mercilessly chastising myself over my boring, disappointing life.

Patti read Rimbaud and traveled to France and lived in the Chelsea and made Horses and on and on and on all before she was 30. By comparison, I was a washed-up old hag whose punk days, such as they were, were behind her. I missed my chance. I could never possibly accomplish anything worthwhile at this advanced age. Cue the violins.

Patti wasn’t the only hero I put through this deification/self-denigration gauntlet. I used to frustrate myself endlessly by comparing artists I admired and what they achieved by such-and-such an age versus my whole-lotta-nothing existence. Lovely readers, if you find yourself doing this, PLEASE STOP IMMEDIATELY and remember what Uncle Teddy said:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

When I read Just Kids, I was at a low-point, creatively. It had been a few years since my band broke up and theater was not yet on the horizon. I felt stuck but my limited emotional skill-set allowed that stuckness to spiral quickly into hopeless catastrophizing. Everything needed to happen RIGHT NOW and if it didn’t, well, that was further proof of my worthlessness.

Then I started a new band. And then I got cast in a play. And then I took a pretty epic motorcycle trip. And then I started working with Little Green Pig. And then I started running. And then I did a lot of not-insignificant work on myself to get at all this bullshit that was holding me back. And on and on and on.

Because it’s bullshit, friends. It’s total bullshit. The thing that tells you you don’t measure up? Bullshit. You aren’t ____ enough? Bullshit. You’re too old/fat/lazy/whatever to do the things you want to do? Bullshit. That someone else’s success is somehow evidence of your failure? Bullshit.

Comparing myself to Patti Smith is bullshit. I will never be Patti Smith. Now I can read that as a simple statement of fact rather than a denouncement of my existence. What’s more, I am not here to be Patti Smith. I’m here to be me. I don’t have Patti’s words or experiences. I have mine. They are not any more or less significant than hers. They simply ARE. I’m done comparing.

Now I can put on Horses and feel nothing but inspiration. I can even remember my Just Kids low point with a fond wink and a bit of maternalism for Young Me, the ever-harsh. I can support and lift up my fellow art-makers because there is room for all of us. This is the world we’re making.

We’re all in this together, Soapboxers. I’m interested to hear from you. Leave a comment or email us at artistsoapbox@gmail.com .

‘Til next time!

-MT

Hear Mara on Episode 001 of the Artist Soapbox podcast. Read her testimonial here.

Mara’s blog post about Imposter Syndrome.

Mara’s blog post about Perfectionism.

Mara Thomas is a Durham-based playwright, actor, musician and teaching artist. Her newest original theatre piece, YES TO NOTHING, was commissioned by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concernand played to raving crowds at music venues in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham in fall 2017.

4 thoughts on “Comparisons Part I (Mara Thomas, ASBX blog post 003)”

  1. Pingback: Comparisons Part II (Tamara Kissane, ASBX blog post 004) – Artist Soapbox

  2. Pingback: Reclaiming creative identity after a loss (Mara Thomas, ASBX blog post 014) ⋆ Artist Soapbox

  3. Pingback: Map your dreams (Mara Thomas, ASBX blog post 015) ⋆ Artist Soapbox

  4. Pingback: Community building (Mara Thomas, ASBX blog post 018) ⋆ Artist Soapbox

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Artist Soapbox

Artist Soapbox is a platform for original scripted audio fiction and an opportunity for artists to discuss their creative work in their own voices. We do this through our interview podcast, our blog, and original audio dramas.

Artist Soapbox is an anti-racist organization. We believe Black Lives Matter. In addition, as a podcast production company, ASBX has signed the Equality in Audio Pact on Broccoli Content.

Artist Soapbox is more than just a podcast.

We lead writers groups, accountability support, workshops, and events. We produce and create audio dramas too! Listen to the Master BuilderThe New Colossus Audio Drama, Declaration of Love, and ASBX Shorts. Stay tuned to hear about more projects written by the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Group.

Audio Dramas

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The New Colossus

The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.

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Master Builder

This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2018 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Henrick Ibsen’s classic, The Master Builder published in 1892.

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Declaration of Love

Co-producers Aurelia Belfield and Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox commissioned eleven NC playwrights to craft short audio scenes based on the prompt “Declaration of Love.”

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ASBX Shorts

ASBX Shorts are six short audio fiction pieces created and produced by North Carolina artists. Artist Soapbox Shorts were specifically contributed by the artists to aid in fundraising and to get everyone excited about Jesus Pancake, our new audio fiction series in development.

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