I’ve been fighting with myself on writing about this particular topic.
I didn’t want to write about it because I was afraid I couldn’t do it justice and that my words and thoughts wouldn’t matter.
(Ironically, that’s exactly what this post is about.)
For some people, comparison isn’t really a concern, just a minor annoyance every once in awhile. You may be able to easily shake it off and go about your business.
For others, it’s almost like a disease. It can become a daily way of life that’s paralyzing and stifling.
Personally, I don’t think it’s something that ever goes away. I think it’s something that has to be overcome on a daily basis. Because we as humans are constantly striving to better ourselves, prove our potential, and make ourselves proud of what we can do when we put enough heart into what we’re passionate about.
And that’s not a bad thing. We should always be working toward something, making something of this life that we have. Idle hands and whatnot…
But that’s where things get tricky. We want to make something of ourselves, but we have this tendency to side eye that person over there who’s totally being a beast at life, and we start thinking that whatever we accomplish will never be good enough.
We will never be good enough.
Our best will always be someone else’s worst.
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I for real feel this on a daily basis. If you’ve ever struggled with comparison, you’re not alone.
But I was talking to my mom yesterday (blessings on blessings on blessings for moms, amiright?), and she mentioned that she had been reading some of my posts over on my Instagram. She was telling me how they made her feel and using words like “warm” and “friendly” and “vulnerable”. Yeah, she’s my mom, and she’s totes biased. But I was still a little shocked to hear her say those things because that is exactly what I want this platform, this blog and community here on Tendril Wild, to be. A place of vulnerability, of warmth and openness and friendliness. A safe haven.
I had been doubting myself. Doubting my ability to create something like that. I was starting to feel like the vibes I was putting out were not being understood. And what’s worse than not having your vibes understood?! Ugh, it’s a tragedy.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t even doubting myself because I’ve received criticism or experienced someone telling me what I was doing wasn’t good enough.
I was doubting myself because I was telling myself I wasn’t good enough. I was the one letting my insecurities and fears take over my head.
I was the one nit picking every. little. thing. I was putting out into the universe.
I had come down with one hell of a case of comparisonitis.
So what do I do when this happens? What should YOU do?
When it comes to comparing yourself to others, you can’t just shake it off. Ignoring it is not an approach that’s gonna work, I’m telling you straight up. But there are some actionable steps and mindset shifts that you can work through that will see you out on the other side of comparisonitis.
I’ve been there, and I got you, boo.
How to Stop Comparisonitis + Let Go of Perfection
1 | Unplug.
This might seem like a no-brainer. But you know how you keep stalking your ex on Facebook even though you know it’s a bad idea and can only lead to inhaling a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s?
Yeah, it’s totally the same thing.
One of the first ways to stop comparing yourself to others is to disengage dot com. Stop endlessly scrolling on Instagram. Or re-reading old texts. Or, yes, stalking that one person whose whole life screams “perfection” on Facebook.
Just stop the madness. ‘kay?
When I’m comparing myself to someone else’s life, looks, happiness, WHATEVER it may be, more often than not it leads me into a dark place of negativity and funk. And that negativity can eat you alive.
Have you ever heard that one quote about anger?
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (paraphrasing)
The same thing applies to comparison and envy. The other person remains unaffected, but your joy, your creativity, slowly withers away.
Which leads me to…
2 | Understand your unique value, perspective, and story.
We recently reached 7 billion people in the world. Yup, -illion with a b. And all of use have talents, and some of us use those talents to work. And some of us have the same talents. Some of us are better at those talents. But it works. We’re all getting by even though some of us are doing the same exact thing. We’re all surviving and influencing and even thriving.
We may appear very similar at first glance, and our talents may seem identical. So, how does that work? How do 7 billion people thrive and grow on this planet? How is there a need for more than one person to have a similar talent or passion when there are already so many of us?
Because even if we’re doing the same thing, we are not the same person.
You have value as a 100% unique individual. You’re different from every single person around you. I mean, just think about how many combinations of different thought processes, personalities, and temperaments exist in 7 billion people.
You offer a unique perspective that no one else can match based on your experiences that have shaped you.
And because you are so unique, your story matters. Your story deserves to be expressed in some form, at some point in time. Someone else can relate to only your story, and they won’t relate to mine. Or anyone else’s. They need yours.
The same goes for me. I have a unique way of telling my story, in my voice. My story will only resonate with some people. And that’s okay. But because of this, my story (and yours and others’) deserves to have a place to be told.
Once I realized this, everything changed.
I’m not saying that everyone will necessarily be heard. Unfortunately, that is a common side effect of there being 7 billion people on this planet. 😉 But the fact that there are so many people you could possibly compare yourself too is no reason for you to keep your story inside you. The exact opposite is true. Because everyone is so different, you don’t need to worry about comparing yourself. No two people have the same story or perspective.
You’re unique, and you can share your heart and mind because of that.
3 | Realize that everybody is fakin’ it.
I used to think that everyone (besides myself, of course) had everything figured out.
“Everyone else’s life is perfect, and I’m the only one screwing things up on a regular basis.”
Those airy, bright, happy images on social media? Totally realistic. Those people actually have amazing lives. They have their ish together. They have successfully grouped their poop and win at life.
Me, on the other hand? I’ve done some good stuff here and there. I’ve accomplished a few things, but I still feel like a harried mess most of the time. In all honesty, most of the time I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.
Plus, my hair has a mind of it’s own, so that’s pretty stressful…
So, am I different? Are you different? Are we the only ones who don’t have it all together?
It’s just that everyone else is faking it. The lifestyles and pictures displayed around us aren’t a true representation. Now, I’m not saying that others don’t have happy lives. They do. I have a happy life. But life is messy, uncoordinated, frustrating, confusing, maddening, heartbreaking, and glorious. Only, it’s mostly those glorious shots that are made available for our viewing pleasure. Occasionally, a staged “messy-but-I’m-oh-so-capable-of-thriving-in-this-lovely-mess” image.
There’s nothing wrong with showing the world your good side. We all do it. A lot of times, that’s what we want to see from others. Because pretty pictures and happiness makes us feel good; it’s inspiring and lighthearted. But it’s not always real. No one can expect every day to be that way. It just doesn’t work like that, unfortunately.
I used to think I sucked if I couldn’t (or didn’t know how to) do something. I was embarrassed; sometimes even ashamed. I thought I was the only one failing at things.
But as you get older, you start to realize that more and more people are just wingin’ it.
And that’s so cool to me. It’s just so amazing that we’re all out here sort of wingin’ life, but we’re able to still be so successful and happy. I thought things had to be perfect to declare yourself successful. But life is rarely ever perfect, so we do the best we can.
No one on this earth knows what’s happening from one moment to the next. No one is perfect, but our imperfections make us a pretty amazing human race, don’t you think?
The next time you’re feeling inadequate or unqualified or just having a sort of sucky day, just remember that those around you are faking it, too.
And oh yeah…
4 | Kick perfectionism to the curb.
I struggled for so long to get these thoughts out.
Well, for me, comparison and perfectionism go hand in hand. I compare myself to others, and then I worry about making whatever I create “perfect”. Because if it’s perfect, then no one else could compare, right? Hahahahaha.
As long as everything I do comes out exactly as I want it to and is consistently #FLAWLESS, then I’m good.
Except that life doesn’t really listen and work that way. No matter how hard I’ve tried in life, nothing I’ve ever done has turned out perfect. Except for my manicure. I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty much a boss at achieving a perfect mani/pedi. But that’s the only thing, I swear. Well, my Ramen noodles are good, too. (My secret ingredient is fresh-ground pepper!)
There have been SO MANY times in my life when I wanted to just give up because I knew I couldn’t do something perfectly, especially on the first go. If I couldn’t do something exactly the way I thought it should turn out, I didn’t want to do it at all.
Have you ever felt the same?
But how many things would we fail to achieve, how many amazing and beautiful life experiences would we pass up if we stuck to this mentality?
That’s actually scary to think about, isn’t it? That we could miss out on something so incredible and miss out on many blessings and opportunities because it might not be…perfect.
One quote that always comes to mind when I get caught on the perfectionism hamster wheel is:
Sure, you want to always try your best, but it’s less about trying your best and more about realizing your best is good enough. Even when it’s not.
Even when you do your best, and you still don’t get your dream internship.
Even when you try your best, and you still aren’t able to move out of your comfort zone just yet.
Even when you try your best, and your outfit still looks a hot mess.
Your best can still be enough. You are enough.
Comparison isn’t the only thing that can hold you back. Perfectionism can be a real beeyotch. But the next time you feel it creeping in, that need to be perfect, just remember that no one is. No one else is perfect either. It’s not like the world is out to get you, and everyone else has their life together. They don’t. Everyone rides the struggle bus at some point; it just may not be at the same time that you’re riding it!
When perfectionism comes knocking, tell it to get to steppin’.
5 | Hustle and flow.
At the end of the day, you have to just do you. You can take in all the words I’m spewing here, but you can’t just meditate on them. You have to take action.
You have to eventually put your head down and work on your own stuff. Get into your own creative flow and just go with it.
Then eventually you’ll look up, and realize that you’re not where you started. In fact, your miles away from where you began. And you probably even passed up people that you thought were on top of their game at one point. And there will still be people ahead of you in life that you look up to. That’s great. It’s a wonderful thing to admire someone (who deserves your admiration) and aim to be successful like them.
At this point, you will hopefully realize that when you stay in your lane, magical things start to happen.
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I don’t know if I’m there yet. Like I said, I think the comparison game is a daily struggle. I don’t think it’s a linear process where you move past step 1, to step 2, and so on. I think you experience part 1, move on to step 4, and sometimes get knocked back down to step 2.
But there’s a difference in staying down and learning to get back up and begin again.
What’s your experience with comparison? Is it something you struggle with? How do you combat perfectionism and learn how to stop comparisonitis? Please share your thoughts in the comments below — you never know when it will help someone else! 🙂