My favorite type of trash

As a kid, I was always excited to show my illustrations to everyone I knew. Carrying my heavy old tablet to school, I loved hearing compliments on my neon-colored digital creations from my classmates and teachers. I, having my photo plastered on the stand of our school's best athletes, winning an annual regional beauty contest two years in a row, along with an International Gold Medal in English, now was getting recognition in Arts. My soul thrived.

A year later, I had my "drawing kid" title ruthlessly taken away from me. Ayana and Merey, transfer students from an art school, made all of my works look pale in contrast. Their drawings were praised for their flawless application of anatomy and materiality. "They know how light behaves on surfaces, how eyebrows look when a person is angry, how the ball changes its shape while landing. You need to draw like this!" - my Art teacher exclaimed proudly every time, demonstrating only their works as the epitome of perfection. My works having never received similar proclamations from my Art teacher, I felt insecure.

Aya, your work is trash! - my classmates commented, adding oil to the fire of insecurities evolving within me. My stomach was gripped with anxiety when they were picking up the flaws, comparing me to Ayana and Merey. After these comments, it seemed like all the artworks I'd ever shared with my classmates were demonstrated to the panel of strict judges. Yet the most merciless judge was me. I could no longer be present. Instead, I was engaged in the self-judgment games in my head. My world, lacking the compliments for being the best, crumbled. I felt weak - I wasn't the best at something for the first time.

To conceal my weakness, I started drawing secretly. One day, I drew a magician's bottle after binge-watching the Harry Potter series. The more I looked at my creation, the more flaws I noticed: the indistinct mass of blurry brushstrokes here and blended pixels there. "This is trash," echoed my mind. Sighing, I went for the "DELETE" button. As I was about to do it, from the background YoutTube vlog that I watched, I heard a quote:

"Don't compare your first page to someone's 352nd."

Time froze. Something began to dawn on me. I was pondering this quote several minutes with my mouth agape, circulating it in my mind. "I was indeed the one comparing my first works to someone's 352nd!" I thought. This moment I realized that I shouldn't be comparing myself and felt a sudden liberation. I opened my Telegram channel and got ready to share my work with my subscribers. My fingers were still shaking as I went to the "SHARE" button, but my happiness spilled out in my soul and took possession of my finger muscles.
Never before could I've imagined that one quote from an auto-played YouTube vlog could change my life. That moment I felt happy while not being the best. From that moment on, I started making conscious efforts to confront my fear of judgment. I went on to participate in school art exhibitions, national debate championship, and volleyball try-outs without any fears.
Seeking to be the best and running after external appraisals used to be the base of my system of motivation (which I am grateful for as it got me to where I am). Yet it became obsolete, throwing me into a vicious circle where my insecurities drained the enjoyment and self-judgment ruined my presence. Today after hearing the line from the YouTube vlog, I seek the resources from within; I keep doing what I enjoy without overpaying attention to the externalities. My work can still be trash while compared to others', but as long I put delight and effort into it, I know that it will get better and I'm on the right path.