Today, I’m talking about the comparison game. We’ve all played it, and I think I’ve played it more than most. I’ve spent a lot of time comparing myself to others.
We compare ourselves to others in so many areas: our looks, our personality, our houses, our hobbies, our weekend activities, our businesses, our talents, and even our relationships and marriages.
For a while, I hated Instagram. In fact, I’ve gone long periods of time without posting at all. To me, a lot of it seemed fake because I know that real life isn’t like Instagram. Instagram is curated.
It’s kind of like the difference between dating and marriage. In a dating relationship, you can hide behind the persona you’ve created. You may not even realize you have a persona that you hide behind. But you do, because you go home, away from your boyfriend or girlfriend, and there at home is the real you. But in marriage, you do real life and show the real you to your spouse. You can’t hide from it. I think of dating as the curated version of yourself. And Instagram is like that. It’s not real life. Real life is hard, messy, complicated.
I would go on Instagram and see other people sharing about their latest project or their newest addition to their house or the newest thing they added to their business. I always felt behind.
I did it in college when I was prepping for my graduate piano recital. I did it when we moved into our house in South Carolina. Our house was a fixer upper and for some reason it seemed like right at that exact moment suddenly everyone was buying houses. They were newer than ours, bigger than ours, and they actually liked doing construction projects. Matt and I don’t like doing construction projects, so they would always take us a long time. Meanwhile, everyone else seemed to fix things up in a weekend.
I did it when I was a wedding photographer. When I was a wedding photographer it always seemed like someone had one upped me. The next girl had more weddings booked than me, better products than me, more high-end weddings than me, better photos than me, or they would kill it at bridal shows but I never even went to bridal shows.
This led me to some really dark places. In fact, one of the reasons I am so thankful that I’m not a wedding photographer anymore is because I know how hard I fail at the comparison game. This has been a struggle for me my whole life.
The times it was the worst, were actually when I wasn’t fulfilled in what I was currently doing or when I was depressed or in a funk And this comparison has caused problems for me. It makes me cynical and pessimistic, and it even makes me a bad friend. I’ve said some hurtful things to people when I’ve been in the slump of comparison.
It happened again when slow season in editing came around. I wanted to pivot to education, and it seemed like suddenly everyone else was doing the same thing as me and killing it and doing it way better than I ever could.
I also compare my weekend plans to others. You see, my husband likes to stay in, and most of the time I do too. But for some reason when I see people out and about on the weekends and sharing about it on Instagram, it makes me sad. I feel like I’m missing out.
Matt asked me once, “Would you really rather be out there doing what those other people are doing, or do you only want to do it so you can post it on Instagram?”
That got me thinking. Do I like these things because I like them? Or do I just like it because other people think I should? Maybe I just want to be in the “in” crowd. I started to think… do I really like piano? Did I really like coaching? Did I really like wedding photography? Or did I just like being good at those things, showing off, and being successful. I wrestle with pride constantly.
As a side note, I love Matt because he does things because he likes them, not because someone told him to. Not because he wants to be “cool” Not because he falls into the sterotype. He likes all these cool things like snowboarding, caving, scuba diving, but you would never know that if you met him. He also likes really nerdy things like solving a rubik’s cube blindfolded and watching Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I love that he’s just Matt and he does what he likes. I want to be more like that.
How to Quit the Comparison Game
Now back to Instagram. Here is the path I’ve followed to find freedom and ways I’ve tried to quit the comparison game.
Limit Time on Instagram
Unfollow people you compare yourself to the most, but with the goal of ultimately overcoming your comparison so you can support them and be happy for them
Vigorously seek out your passions
Savor the moment because of the moment, not because of Instagram
Focus on Creating Content
Realize you have a unique voice
Stay in your lane and stay at your pace
Focus on serving your audience
Only get on Instagram at specific times for specific purposes
You can shift your mindset, but it takes work and it takes practice. I’m still on a journey to figure out what I like because I like it, not because someone else said it was cool. I’ll tell you an example of one.
When I was in college, I was in the handbell choir for a few semesters. I LOVED it. It was so much fun. But the handbell choir got made fun of sometimes. But I didn’t care! I had so much fun doing it and couldn’t care less what other people thought about it.
I want to find more things like that. More things that give me life.
Let’s find those things together, mmmkay?
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