Today I want to talk about a particular demon of mine: comparison. It hitcehs a ride at the most random moments. It showed up in middle school a few times during the budding years of popularity contests and the need to impress boys. It went mute during most of high school because I was too busy with marching band, photography, theatre, and friends. Comparison was still with me. He was just taking a backseat nap.
He reared his ugly, pimple-coated head about… four weeks ago. Diving back into writing, exercising, theatre, and a million other activities has been healthy for me, but it’s encouraged my negative demon to vault over the center console and take the driver’s seat. I started comparing myself to everyone in EVERY aspect of my life. People were skinnier than me and could eat more. People were better at teaching. Better at keeping their cool. Singing. Dancing. Writing. Video games. You name it, I compared myself to someone.
As a writer, I know I need to study other works to determine what I can do better at the craft. But if you entertain the demon of comparison, it’s a damn slippery slope to unhappiness. If I say it once, I’ll say it a hundred times: analyzing and comparing are different, analyzing and comparing are different, analyzing and… You get the point.
I want to analyze people who exercise and eat well so that I can adapt their strategies. I want to analyze the craft of a writer so I can strengthen my skills.
More importantly, I want to be happy for what I have. I want to be proud for what I have created. As a creator of any kind, it’s easy to get lost in the ocean of other people doing the exact same thing you are. But you’re still your own fish. You can swim your own path.
3 Ways I Stopped Comparing
- LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA– If you’re like me and you can’t help but compare yourself to others, reduce your usage of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They are wonderful networking tools, but it’s important to remember that people on those platforms only show the world their best. Look at this fancy meal they ate, looking at this gorgeous place they visited, look at their beautiful home, look at… Instagram is carefully curated network where people only show their best. Their beautiful mean vs. the dishes in the sink. Their beautiful book corner vs. their mental breakdown Tuesday night.
- CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS– You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops or grind it into someone’s face, but you need to celebrate your personal success. I’m not fit enough to run an hour on the elliptical, but damn if I didn’t make it to 20 minutes last week. Damn if I didn’t go to the gym four days last week. That’s more than I did before and I am proud. I’m making progress and that’s all that matters.
- INVEST IN THE LITTLE THINGS– Stephen and I are trying to change our way of thinking so that we enjoy the free/small things in life. We stayed in bed most of the morning looking up meals, reading articles, and just being together. We went grocery shopping, and now we’re sitting in the quiet working on things we want/need to do. We’re going to focus on the joy of being with people, soaking up nature, and just praising the life we are given.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with comparing themselves to others, so if you have other ways of coping with it, let me know! I’d love to hear and learn from you.
Until next time.