Look at me, what do you see? GIRL, IT’S TIME TO FOCUS ON THE SPARKLE·SATURDAY, JULY 7, 2018 I once asked someone “look at me and tell me what you see.” They said, I see a woman, a pretty smile, your colored dress. If you ask most people to look at the person next to them and tell what they see, often they will say a physical feature. But perhaps that needs to be changed. Perhaps when we look at people we should see inner qualities like “I see a kind heart, an intelligent mind, a talented person.” When I was 18, in art school, our class was given an assignment to create a poster for a circus. The only criteria was it had to have the word circus and had to use one of the typestyles we had been learning. I spent endless hours on this project from choosing a medium I was comfortable with yet also felt was creative, to my overall design and concept. One due date, all the posters were placed around the room for instructor comments and critiques. Many students paid tribute to Emmitt Kelly. I was confident I had done well as this was truly the best thing I had ever created in any medium in my entire 18 years of life. Now, if you’ve heard this story you know I received a “D” on the assignment. Beyond upset, confused, hurt, and disappointed, I approached my instructor privately after class and asked, “What is wrong with my poster?” After all, my paint technique was perfect, the concept different than anyone else used and I hand lettered without error my typeface. “It’s a good enough piece,” he said, “but compared to everyone else in the class its subpar.” Devastated, I told him that it was in fact the best thing I had ever created and that I was merely 18 years old in a class of thirty, many as old as my mother on their second or third art school. “I understand that,” he said, “but I only have you three hours a week. I have no idea what your ‘best’ is. I can only compare you to the rest of the class.” That encounter was a pivotal moment in my life. I wanted desperately to be seen for my talent, efforts and my own unique creativity. But instead learned about comparison. About not being good enough, about your best being substandard. Today, I encourage you to look at someone near you. I mean really look at them. I bet you will see a bit of yourself. But more importantly, I beg you to stop comparing yourself to others. You are you, not them. Your life is different, your circumstances, your upbringing. As far as the rest of the class, the moms, the business owners, they are on a different playing field. Not better, just different. Girl, it’s time to focus on YOUR sparkle. Anyone can love a rose, but it takes someone special to love a leaf. So, shine on! Do your best and bring it forth with confidence. © c. michelle bryant Michelle Bryant is an entrepreneur, nationally acclaimed award-winning artist, inspirational speaker, self-published author of five books available at most online retailers, a multi-award winning, published photographer whose work is nationally used for worldwide marketing campaigns and featured on various items including but not limited to apparel. She shines her light and speaks from her heart in an encouraging and transparent manner and offers a message of hope, healing, and victory to any who encounters her or her works. You can check out her multitude of works at: www.divinelyfocused.com.