How To Stop Playing The Comparison Game
A funny thing happened to me recently. I ran into an old friend. We had a good catching up. She looked fabulous and happy and spoke about her kids, her job, her husband with real joy. And I am nothing but happy for her. She's a good person who deserves all the happiness in the world. But beneath my happiness for her, was a tinge of something else. Not jealousy - this wasn't about her - it was purely about me and my own life. I am not usually one who gives in to feelings like this. I am a firm believer that we are all on our own paths and timelines in life. But on that particular day, in that particular moment the comparison game got to me.
I am always really good at stopping myself whenever this kind of inner dialogue, that we all fall victims to, rears it's ugly head. It is not productive. It robs us of our joy. It makes you feel less than and you lose sight of the good things within your life. I knew all of that. And yet I still spent the rest of the day in a bit of a funk. I started questioning certain choices and decisions I'd made and wondering if I needed to rethink my own goals.
While I believe, having someone aspirational or something to strive for is always a good thing, we need to be careful when looking at other people and using them as a litmus test for own happiness or success. I first started blogging about seven years ago with a blog called Valiantly Varnished. It was a nail art and nail polish blog. You can see it here if you're a bit curious. And I spent a lot of that time reading other nail blogs. Amazing nail blogs. Bloggers with amazing nail art skills and perfect nail beds and cuticles. And then I would look at my blog and my nail art and feel...lacking. I would critique every little detail of my photos. I would berate myself for not having my skill set up to par with other bloggers. I spent a lot of time being unhappy with my blog. And when I look back at that now I am a bit angry with myself. I spent so much time worrying about being as good as everyone else that I don't feel like I ever found my own niche so to speak. I didn't take the time to find my own unique voice and space within that blogging community. I allowed my own insecurities, my need for perfection, and my constant comparison to others to steal the joy of my success. And I was successful. I worked with major brands, I was featured in Nails Magazine. My nail art is still plastered all over Pinterest. I was a bit of a bad ass. And I never really owned and appreciated that while I was in the midst of it.
Watching success after the fact is always amazing. We never have to know that someone tried and worked at something for however long before their venture became a success. All we see and know is the "after". Never the "before".It's funny how when successful people tell their "origin" stories we are always shocked at how they struggled and toiled. We apparently think that everyone but us hatches out of a pod a millionaire success story. Of course we know that isn't true. So why do we spend so much time comparing our beginning to someone else's middle? Why not use their story as proof that you will and can get there. Because if they can do it - so can you.
We are given timelines to follow from the time we are born. Milestones we are supposed to hit that will set us up for success in life. And that reliance on pre-determinded timelines follows us well into adulthood. Especially women. We are supposed to get married at a certain time, supposed to have kids by a certain age. If you don't follow that timeline then well... you're a failure. Every single childless woman over thirty knows what I am talking about. We more than perhaps any other demographic know about this timeline trap. "When will you have kids?" "You're getting up there hun, you need to hurry up and find Mr. Right." Or the dreaded, "Are you seeing anyone?" Gag. It's enough to make a woman want to scream, "Get out of my uterus Pam and mind your own damn business".
I stopped giving myself timelines for things a long time ago. They are pointless. Honestly. Because who are they for? Are they for you or for others who feel you should be on their timeline? Everything happens when it is meant to happen. No two people's journeys will ever be exactly the same. And nor should they be. Everything that has happened in my life of consequence has happened serendipitously. I didn't plan them. They didn't come when I expected them to. And some things never came at all. And I look back and think, 'Wow. I'm sure glad that didn't happen the way I had planned it to." My point? Your journey is uniquely yours. Your timeline is uniquely yours It cannot be what someone else's is. And that is a good thing. I am a firm believer that things come to us when we are ready for them. And sometime that does not match the timeline we may have in our minds.
If you ever have a case of the comparison game, I hope you stop take a moment, and remeber that no one can do a better job at being you, than you!