I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “comparison is the thief of all joy.” And I’ve touched on the negatives of comparing yourself to others before in a previous post about being happy (My Guide to Being A Happier Human). But still, I’ve caught myself in the comparison loop lately and I’ve noticed others struggling with it, too. I think it’s just human nature to look around, see what others are doing, and then form beliefs about your own actions based on your perceptions of others. For instance – often when I’m absent from my blog for long periods of time or when I don’t post anything about my photography for a while, it’s because I’ve been checking out other peoples blogs or their photos and I feel like mine are nowhere near as good so why should I even try? Regardless of the fact that I enjoy writing and taking pictures and I just do it for fun, I still struggle with feeling like I’m not good enough. These feelings come straight from comparing myself to others.
My best friend Tori (pictured with me at the top of this post) is a gorgeous, strong, funny, driven, smart individual. Many people (including me) would be extremely happy to have a body like hers. But she struggles with body image just as much as the next person. When we talk about it I get frustrated sometimes because I’m like hello?!? You weigh 25 pounds less than I do. You look amazing. How can you complain about your body? But just as I’m comparing myself to Tori, she’s comparing herself to others. While I envy Tori’s tiny waist and flat stomach, she envies my quads and thick legs. She made a comment to me the other day about how bad Instagram can be for your mental health because it’s so easy to compare what you look like to what the fitspos and instagram models look like and find flaws within yourself. That’s one of the comments that led me to my thoughts about comparison I’m trying to compile for this post.
The other thing that I’ve been reflecting on is something that Kristen Bell said. I stumbled across her husband’s fairly new podcast, The Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (I’ve only listened to three episodes but I really like it – particularly the episode with Kristen). During Kristen’s episode, Dax brought up the fact that she doesn’t get jealous when one of her friends or colleagues gets a better job offer than her – even when she loses roles to one of her friends. I really liked how Kristen responded to this – I’ll try to summarize the gist of it. She said that just because someone else gets the part over her, that doesn’t take anything away from her. It doesn’t mean that she is ‘less than’ or lacking in some way. It just means that the other person was more suited for the role. If you don’t take it as a personal attack, you can be happy for the other person without letting it affect your own self esteem. Her and Dax went on to discuss how they don’t compare themselves to anyone else because it’s useless (she actually called it a ‘waste of f’ing time’); they only compare themselves to previous versions of themselves. You’ll always be able to find someone who does what you’re doing better than you. There are too many people in the world to ever think that you could ever be the best at what you do without ridiculous hard work and time put in. Comparing causes you unnecessary suffering; thinking about how you are ‘less than’ doesn’t make you feel good, it makes you feel like shit. But if you compare yourself to previous versions of yourself and look at how far you’ve come, then you’ll feel pretty great. I thought this was a great concept.
Going back to the instagram thing – what I told Tori then is kind of along the same lines as the advice Kristen and Dax gave. The pictures that people post on Instagram are usually pictures of their best moments. Most people don’t post the real moments on social media. And the girls that we compare ourselves to on social media, those girls struggle with insecurities, too. Those girls struggle with comparing themselves to others. Those girls don’t have the perfect lives that it might seem they have. It’s useless to compare ourselves to them because it does nothing but cause us unhappiness. No matter how perfect someone’s life seems on the outside, everyone has their own struggles and shortcomings. Now, if I compare what I look like now to what I looked like 2 years ago, I feel nothing but happiness. I’d be so much happier if I focused less on comparing myself to others and more on becoming the best possible version of myself.
It’s the same thing with my blog and my photography. There are a ton of people out there who have more followers, who get more views, who have more articulate writing styles, who post better content, and have a better looking website than mine. When I start to look at professional blogs, I want to delete mine. And there are A LOT of people out there who know way more about photography than I do, who take better photos, who are a lot more talented, who are better at editing, and who make my pictures look like they were shot with a flip phone. But… when I look at some of my old blog posts to now, I see improvement. And when I look at my early pictures/editing style to now, I see improvement. Yes, there are people out there who are better than me but that doesn’t mean that I suck. The fact that they are great does not take anything away from me. If I focus on comparing only to a previous version of myself, I feel a lot better.
The other thing about comparison is that you’re never really getting the full picture. I’ve been posting on my blog off and on for over a year. I’ve been interested in photography for even less time than that. When I compare myself to other people – I’m not taking into account the fact that they have more hours invested in their craft than I do. I’m not taking into account that they saved money to afford a better camera or a nicer lens. I’m not taking into account the fact that they’ve been at it for years whereas I’ve been at it for months. When I look at a girl on instagram and think damn I wish my butt looked like hers – I’m not taking into account the fact that she’s been lifting for 5 years whereas I’ve been lifting for 1. You’re never on the same exact place in your journey as another person, so you can never truly compare what you’re doing to what they’re doing.
Ultimately, you owe it to yourself to be the best possible version of YOU that you can be. You don’t have to be like that girl on instagram with 20,000 followers, you don’t have to be like that professional blogger who churns out amazing content weekly, you don’t have to better than anyone else – except who you used to be. Focus on becoming a better version of you and don’t worry so much about what others are doing. I know I talked about very specific examples but this applies to everything – your job, your weight, your hair color, whether you have a college degree or not, whether you’re in a relationship or single, whatever. One of my personal growth goals is to be better at encouraging and celebrating others while not letting their successes make me feel “less than” or like I’m not doing enough. As hard as it is, I want to stop comparing myself to others and just love myself exactly the way that I am.
As always, thanks for reading my thoughts and ramblings. Share with someone else who’s been stuck in the comparison loop lately and who needs to hear this today.