Comparison is the thief of joy. A quote I live by… well, strive to live by and struggle every day to live out. Many people, especially women, I know struggle with comparison, myself included. I’ve had people tell me they wish I knew how wonderful I was, that I didn’t struggle with comparison so much. They’re right, it stinks that there are days or moments where I struggle, where I forget my worth, where I forget my dignity. But I would rather talk about the fact that I’m struggling with that on a particular day or in a particular moment because that’s showing my authentic self. That’s taking down the mask. That’s being real with people instead of painting this picture that I have it all together, that life is a breeze. And talking about it often allows for healing in that area.
But the other issue I’ve noticed recently is other people comparing me to other people… let me explain – I was talking to my dad the other week and I was really excited because I’d been going to the gym consistently again, but was starting to notice my arms actually have a little bit of tone to them… that’s NEVER happened before. I would walk into a gym and feel so uncomfortable and anxious, but I’ve been working on it and getting better. My gym has this app that takes you through a workout, gives you reps and weight and a video showing you how to do something or use a machine if you’re unsure how to do it. So I’ve actually been putting forth a lot of effort in this. Thus, when I saw my dad for the first time in a couple weeks I was really excited and flexed my little baby muscles for him because I was so proud of him and this was a teasing interaction, but he said “do they look like Christel’s yet?” … And the way that question is worded it would be easy for me to be lead to this negative comparison – I don’t measure up. I’m not where she is… I don’t look like her. Whoever the her may be. It lead to negative comparison.
Another story – Friday night as I was getting ready for bed I scrolled Instragram for one last time and saw my friend from freshman put up a #therealme selfie and I guess I was just really inspired to do the same. So bare face, glasses, and all, literally had just crawled into my bed I put up a post about the trials of the last couple weeks, and the fact that I literally just sobbed in the shower Friday night because I hadn’t cried yet. And one of my friends commented on it, and he was good intentioned, but he also compared my situation to some else’s situation, which seemed far worse… but the reality is, my hard is different than someone else’s hard. My bad day is different than someone else’s bad day. We are all unique person’s. I have an extremely blessed life, and I am very aware of that. I am able to eat all my meals every day, I have a roof over my head with AC, heat, electric, etc. I have a working car. I am in my final semester of undergrad for my college degree. I have two parents who are still married and love me and provide for me in every way I need. I have nice clothes. I have a really blessed life. But I struggle with anxiety. I’ve had severe bouts of depression. I had a lot of personal, internal stressors in the recent weeks, and they all happened all at the same time. So Friday, Friday was a hard day. Friday I hit a breaking point. And I wanted to share the reality, the #realme because it’s so easy to get caught up in seeing all the good things that people post and to think that they have it all together and life is dandy. And so I was pretty upset by my friends comment because it left me feeling belittled. I’m not the person he was comparing me to. And he shouldn’t have been comparing me to her because my life and her life look very different.
So I think the issue I want to bring out is not only do so many people already struggle with comparison to begin with, but other people are leading them down this path of negative comparison as well. Be aware of how you might be saying things, and how they might be perceived. Let’s be aware of how we’re comparing other people to other people, and of how we’re comparing ourselves to other people.
One other thing I want to touch – I used the phrase “negative comparison” a couple of times. In the right context, comparison can be beneficial. I’ll use a running example because that’s what I know. Say you’re doing sprints with someone and the girl next to you is just slightly ahead of you as you run. You could compare your speed to hers and use it to push yourself by trying to keep up with her. Actually, this concept is used a lot in distance running. In cross country in high school we were told to pick a girl in front of us during a race and use her as our push, meaning I would make it a goal to pick up my speed to catch her, and the phrase we used was “pick them off” …. sounds hmm a little off, but it really worked in a race to help push you faster and harder. So comparison can be a good thing because when we do use other people to help push us we often realize just how strong or capable we are.
You see, the thing is, positive comparison will allow us to become more of our authentic selves while negative comparison causes us to tear ourselves apart. Let’s focus on the good within us. Let’s focus on our own beauty, our own goodness, our own strength. Allow yourself to be inspired by the people around you, but remember that you are your very own YOU and there is no one else like you.