I want to start off this post by saying that I in no way shape or form have the right answer, or am even close to finding the right answer, as to how to stop comparing yourself to others.
It’s human nature. But that doesn’t mean we have to let it consume our lives.
The topic of comparison is almost cliche in the creative world, especially on Instagram at this point. Is that insensitive to say? What I mean is, everyone seems to be talking about a vulnerable topic in such an open way that when I read about it now, I almost roll my eyes or don’t take that person’s experience seriously because it’s talked about so much.
And that’s not fair.
Your experience is valid, and I enjoy reading others’ perspective on how to beat the comparison game and shine in what makes them unique. Honestly.
So that’s why I’m contributing to the conversation.
I’m writing this post to talk about my participation in this comparison game, how it affects me, and how I’ve learned to cope.
I’d love to hear your tips on how you push away the negative thoughts in the comments below.
I’m going to tell you a quality I’m not too proud to admit.
I can be a jealous person. There, I said it.
It used to be worse in my adolescence and early 20s, but has dissipated little by little each year. I don’t want to feel jealous. It feels icky. I think jealousy is at the root of comparison, whether that’s personally or professionally.
Since the invention of social media, jealousy has been at the forefront of my perception of others’ lives. We’re constantly bombarded by an “ideal” picture of someone else’s life, and what we think ours should look like.
I “should” reach this milestone by this age, or I “should” want my life to be this way or that.
This is not a new concept.
But lately I’ve noticed myself heavily comparing my life to those around me, both in the creative space and personally. My thoughts are filled with second guesses and fear. Fear that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not doing enough fast enough, or that I’m not capable of doing those things at all.
It freaking blows.
For example, I’ve got three brothers. Two are recently engaged and one landed his dream job in a big city. They’re all living their dreams, on a path they’ve chosen and carefully designed. From the outside, everything seems perfect and almost like they’re more adult than me (even though I’m the oldest).
No one is telling me what I’m doing is less than them, but that’s how it can feel. No one is pressuring me to buy a house (sort of), or get married, or have kids, but because I’m surrounded by these life milestones that are highly encouraged and supported, it can leave a girl feeling defeated and unseen.
By the way, I’m extremely happy for them. Truly. Those are not things I want, and I’m comfortable with that. But it can leave you doubting yourself and wondering if you should be wanting those things as well.
That might sound contradictory, but damn, it’s a confusing time right now. I’m working on finding strength in my own decisions and trusting those decisions, instead of doubting them next to everyone else.
Tips for change
What I’ve found helpful is to contribute to the conversation on marriage, kids, etc. Instead of keeping my mouth shut on my true opinions and just going along with the group, I’ve made my decisions known. It feels like a huge sigh of relief and I think has helped ease the expectations others may have had for me.
So my advice to you, if you’re struggling with comparison in your own family or close group of friends, is to stand up for yourself, speak with confidence, and remain supportive of their decisions although they may not align with yours. And most importantly to remember that it doesn’t make you less than.
This is a big ‘ol can of worms.
Last night I was talking to my boyfriend about my comparison thoughts, trying to rationalize them in the moment as to why they were valid and why I wasn’t good enough. He’s used to hearing this spiel, but always remains supportive.
But he said one thing that hit me like a ton of bricks. “You don’t ever stop to recognize your own accomplishments.”
This couldn’t be more true.
Instagram is a wonderful place to connect with others and draw inspiration, but it can also be a horrible place to lose creativity. Sometimes I scroll too much and do exactly what he said: I forget my own accomplishments compared to everyone else.
It’s easy to lose confidence when those in your field seem to be doing more, at a faster pace, in a better way. Seem is the key word here. How do I actually know if that’s true? I don’t, and neither do you. But it’s easy to draw that conclusion.
I could write a blog post I’m really proud of, or gain the attention of someone I greatly admire, but as soon as I stack it up to others who have been doing it as long as me (or longer), it all starts to fade away.
And it shouldn’t!
Tips for change
What you do matters. Not for the sake of others, but for yourself. If a project makes you happy, do it. If a project makes you scared, challenge yourself. Again, I say all this as another reminder to myself, so please don’t read this and think I’ve got it all figured out.
Next time you find yourself comparing your work or life to others, put your phone down or walk away. When you step away from what’s driving your insecurities, you can put your head down and get to work on what you started.
We all need to take a moment for ourselves and recognize our wins. Don’t wait for others to recognize them for you.
I reached out on Instagram and asked you all to send me tips you’ve learned to beat the comparison game. Here’s some of what you said.
“I make sure to put my phone down when I start thinking unhealthily and remind myself that we are all on our own separate and individual wavelength. It isn’t easy and I don’t always do it correctly. But it’s important to remember that those people we compare ourselves to are human, too. Just like us. And they’re probably more than likely experiencing their own type of heaviness.” – Brizzy Rose
“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Life is not a race, find joy in the journey.'”