I've been competing my whole life - against my peers, against the Catholic girls' basketball team, and, most consistently, against myself. Society taught me that the only valid competitions for girls were in areas of looks, manners, and popularity, but these are things that serve somebody else. Instead, I compete in areas that are just for me in skill, profession, and capability. I find this sort of competition a lot more fulfilling than beau catching, and I've learned a lot about myself along the way:

Image taken from Pinterest

I am a fighter. Even when I don't have a good chance of being the best, even when I've been creamed by the same adversary over and over, I'm never going to give up. It may be far-fetched to think that I'll get the gig, and I may not have everything it takes compared to the true masters in my field, but you can damn well believe that I'm going to give it my all.

"Eye of the Tiger" from Persepolis. Video taken from Johnny Burnaway.

I'm ambitious. Good enough is never good enough for me. You did a good job? That's great, but why stay stagnant? I want to learn from my successes in order to make something even better the next time. Not only am I going to win - I going to wow everyone and truly distinguish myself from my peers.

The ultimate masterpiece, me!

I'm an innovator. Excellence begets excellence. Having a natural proclivity towards art is nothing special, which means that to make something amazing, you have to strategize, problem-solve, and innovate. Without competition, the Sistine Chapel wouldn't have been the same spectacle it is today, and The Last Supper would have been lackluster. Because Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were fierce competitors (as were Picasso and Matisse), they created wonders of the world.

Michelangelo's Moses. Image taken from Italy Magazine.

I am competitive. As a kid, I took it for granted that I was good at art. My six year old brain knew that my art was just as good as the Masters' in the Louvre. That all changed when in the sixth grade a new girl came to school. It turned out that she could draw too, and she was really good at it. Suddenly my street cred was in jeopardy so I started working harder to step up my game. My competition with the new girl turned into knowing that I wanted to be an artist forever.

Score sheets from my regional and state art competitions.

Perhaps the best thing competition taught me is that I'm legit. I wouldn't be a good artist if it weren't for all of the personal, academic, and professional competitions I've been in; I'd be a hack. My ambition, innovation, and fighting spirit is what keeps me working hard to do things right. I still get nervous and have self-doubt, but logically, when I break it down, I know that all of the hard work, technical expertise, research, and knowledge I've attained through competition makes me the real deal.

Judy's Heir. Watercolor and ink on paper. 10" x 8". 2016
Buy a digital print of my illustration here!


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