J.R Wells: “I am still looking for those who are better than me”

My town was small. Small enough so that you knew everyone’s secrets but big enough that you could hide yourself if you wanted to. I was always hiding everything but everyone else thought that they knew everything about me. I think that my fear of not being good enough as an artist or a creator probably stemmed from this. I have a lot of passions. I don’t like to call them talents, despite that it’s what my parents would call them.

DSC00180I enjoy singing and playing music, I enjoy writing stories, poems and songs, I enjoy taking photographs of landscapes and my dog, I enjoy painting and drawing and moving my room around and making things look pretty. I’ve always been creative and always changed my mind on the area that I wanted to end up in, every couple of weeks.

I would see someone on TV or on the internet or one of my friends making something and I would immediately decide that I wasn’t able to do it as well as they did. I grew up in a town where everyone had that niche, I had friends who could play instruments and belt out a song, pitch perfect before they could even talk. I knew people who could paint like it was going to be hung in the National Gallery. I knew people who could create content that was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard before. This feeling of just not being good enough often clouds my mind like dry-ice.

In secondary school, things are very tense and isolated and I often felt second best or not even in the top ten. In University, I feel like everyone is equal but despite the encouragement of my peers and my course leaders, I am still looking for those who are better than me. My course peers are starting companies, being flown out to other countries for shoots and having their work frequently sold. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been stunted, by myself or my insecurity over my abilities and my final work. These comparisons often lead to my disappointment in myself over the fact that my greatest achievement that day was delivering a perfect latte-art heart to an elderly lady without spilling it. I also feel like its potentially the reason why a lot of artists don’t quite make it as far as they would like to.

We dive off the pier, toward the Island opposite and swim to the first buoy but everyone is swimming so far ahead and so much faster that we decide to swim back and try another day, but that day never comes. I’m trying hard to listen to the grades I get and to the people who encourage me that I am good enough and that I work hard. I know a lot of people who compare themselves to others all the time and I offer my support and encouragement but I’m guilty too. Although its offered to me I forget that it is right there. It’s often my life-saver.

Competition feels high at this age but I’m still trying to ensure myself that I don’t have to be better than anyone else, I only have to work hard enough that I feel good enough about my work. Everyone works at different levels and at different speeds. I’m turning twenty in April, I’m in my second year of my Interaction Design Arts course and I’m a creator. I don’t have a niche and I’m not sure I ever will; but do I really need one?

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Jay is a creative director and photographer based in London. They specialise in content direction and creation within the music industry, but also works in the fashion and publishing industries in content creation and event management.

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