WHY IT’S TIME TO QUIT THE COMPARISON GAME
Quitting The Comparison Game For Good
As is often the case, this blog post isn’t me telling you why you need to quit the comparison game - it’s also a reminder to self why I should too. Having realised that I passed the ten years in blogging milestone a while ago, I've been thinking about the stuff I've learned from an online creative and growing a small business... and I don't just mean the How To and geekery stuff… although I’m very partial to all of that!
After about seven years hitting the blogging game at full tilt and ratcheting up as much practical experience as I could, the three years that followed have been more concerned with what it’s taught me about myself. As a starter for ten, this includes the pitfalls of navigating a previously untrodden path, the highs and lows of successes and mistakes and all the negative things that, if left to rampage on unchecked, can end up having an impact on my wellbeing and mental health. So I'm kicking off with comparison.
Comparison has at times tied me in knots when it comes to my years in blogging. I honestly can't remember if I gave into it prior to the blogging and social media explosion era. I'm pretty sure I did - most people do don’t they? I just think that now, there are so many more ways that that we can find to inadvertently feed the beast and it's all reflected back to us in high visibility, every time we pick up our phones for a seemingly mindless scroll. Every. Single. Day.
How Comparison Has Affected Me Personally
Working by and large on your own, you have free rein to soak up all the other blogs/Instagram feeds/creative entrepreneur websites out there. This I’ve learned is also an excellent form of procrastination. In the last ten years, I've watched this incredible online world grow at an astonishingly fast rate. With the phenomenal rise of influencers, careers have been born out of posting daily outfits or parental anecdotes and Goddess ( and God) like status has been bestowed upon those who take it to stratospheric levels. To witness this from the fringes is both intoxicating and invigorating.
Before you know it you begin to watch even more closely to check out what others are doing. Except you're not close at all as what you're seeing is the end product in a process - it's not even half the picture. Nonetheless you start wondering, should I be doing something similar? Maybe if I did X, Y or Z, I too could feel a little closer to success. And in doing so, you simply forget one thing. What success was meant to look like for you when you started out.
As a forty something mother of one with a busy family life, I would find myself comparing my blog to that of a twenty something with no children or commitments - insert Face Palm emoji here. Bloggers who were free to roam the world at will and carry on producing bundles of timely content... and most likely with one or two (or a whole team of) assistants to help. Them and I… not really the same are we?
Comparison had crept in on stealth mode and before I knew it, Creativity had slyly nudged Joy and whispered "Come on... let's pack our bags and get the hell out of here. She's stopped noticing we even exist!" In the quest to be successful, and the wrong kind of successful for me it turns out, I felt stifled, burnt out, directionless and just plain frustrated most of the time.
Absorbing so much of what everyone else was doing kept me from not even being remotely close to figuring out how I could share more of my own values and what the things that I loved.
I ended up severely disliking this person who continually pitted herself against some unattainable ideal and sometimes even tried to emulate her heroes. She wasn’t me and I'm glad I eventually had the sense to kick her to the kerb.
Why We Need To Quit
Because it's a complete waste of time and energy. It will not help you achieve anything. It won't make you successful. End of story. As that most famous of quotes on the subject says, comparison is the thief of joy.... and it's a stealthy, deceitful little thief at that. It's an entirely negative emotion and serves no purpose except to leave you feeling dissatisfied and still wanting.
Because it'll stifle the crap out of your creativity. There's no other way to flower it up - that's what it does. We are all unique and as such, all have something unique to bring to the table. There is no other you so why are you trying to measure yourself against someone else?
How To Quit It
Practice gratitude instead - I guarantee this will make you feel more way fulfilled and a lot happier. There is so much written now about practicing gratitude - all you have to do is to find a way that works for you and use it. For me it’s as simple as taking a moment every now and then to enjoy and properly absorb the simplest of things in daily life. Those are the things that make me feel glad to be alive.
Celebrate all your successes - large and small. Just acknowledging them will help bring about a sense of self-worth and leave you feeling positive and buoyed up. These are both sworn enemies of comparison and she can rarely get a word in edgeways when those two are in your head.
Realise that what you see is not what you get. Who are we to think that what we're shown online is a true representation of life behind the scenes? We see an image, read a blog post or a comment on social media and then we make our own assumptions. Does that mean our assumptions are correct? Hell no! That's just Comparison's old friend, Self-Doubt making us feel that that person's life is of course, way better than ours. Assumption, Comparison and Self-Doubt are the mean girls you never want to fall in with. Walk away and go find your own tribe.
Practice seeking inspiration instead. Find this and other traits to admire in the thing/person/blog/business/Instagram feed that what would have previously brought on a comparison attack. Then go one step further and pay that person a compliment if you like - be the one to spread joy not jealousy. These emotions will fill you up rather that drain your resources down to nothing.
For me, there was a turning point when it came to dealing with comparison in blogging and I think it was probably the one factor that taught me how to me look for my sense of self in this particular field again. Frustrated and rudderless, I decided to work with a creative consultant - I was very lucky to work with Monica when she offered this service. My experience took the form of an initial, more in depth consult and then a couple of hours per month of discussion time for just under two years. It was the creative and professional steer I needed into assessing what I stood for and how to bring my voice and values into the picture.
When someone else reflects back to you what they see and can help you recognise both your strengths and the areas that you could improve on, it becomes a really enlightening process and I’ll always be glad I decided to invest some funds into my self and my business in this way.
Waving Goodbye To Comparison
Ambition and the desire to succeed and fulfil our dreams is always a good thing and should be embraced... but also harnessed. You have to sort through all the noise to understand your values, what you feel truly in alignment with and also to know what you really want and when you want it. Our life stages evolve continually and the hopes, dream and goals that served you well ten years ago might leave you cold now.
It’s good to check back in regularly - reconnecting with your why is a phrase I see just about everywhere at the moment but understandably so. With the ebb and flow of life and priorities, it’s all too easy to end up constantly swimming against the tide in search of something that possibly doesn’t serve you anymore.
Whether it's about writing the blog you want to write, making a business out of something you’re passionate about (and really good at) or just plain and simply, living the life you want to live. If we focus on ourselves instead of what others are doing then maybe that's when the real magic happens…
I'd love to know if you've frequently dealt with comparison and managed to find your own way through the fog to finally push it aside and move on? Or is it something you're still battling on a regular basis?