three practices in combating comparison
We’ve all had that moment—the one when you open the app, pull down to refresh the feed, and it hits you. Someone else is doing what you do, and the latest on the highlight reel that is social media has you convinced they’re doing it better. No matter how good of a day you were having, or the depth of satisfaction you were soaking in from time spent doing something you love—it’s gone now, replaced with a sinking feeling in your gut.
I guess I can’t speak for you, assuming you’ve been there before. But I have.
About six months into my blogging journey, I started to struggle with comparison, and it was crippling. I’d worked through the nerves of launching, and ridden the rush that comes when you do. As the initial excitement subsided, I was simultaneously getting more plugged into the blogging world. A handful of people I knew personally also started blogs. There were times I'd read something one of these talented writers wrote, and suddenly find myself wondering why I bothered.
It’s funny, because I’m fairly certain nobody else was looking at me, comparing me to my Christian blogger contemporaries.
For example, a friend of mine is a talented videographer. I recently complimented him on some funny YouTube videos he created, and his response was eyeopening.
“Thanks,” he said. “But, they’re nowhere near the quality of (insert YouTuber name).”
He listed off the technical qualities he was lacking, ones he was convinced made him subpar. Looking at him and his work, I saw none of these things. All I saw was what made him great.
As he spoke, something clicked. The more we learn about a niche and immerse ourselves in it—be it blogging, YouTubing, photography, sports, etc.—the more of an ability we have to become hyper-critical of our role within it. It’s like the coffee connoisseur who sticks his nose up at Starbucks—he’s so versed in the intricacies of coffee at it’s finest that he’s unable to enjoy it in a form most people love.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive for excellence in everything we do—we certainly should. I’m simply saying that when we’re so focused on what we think our work should be, we miss an opportunity to enjoy what it is.
It wouldn’t be honest of me to say I never struggle with comparison anymore, but I can honestly say it’s rare nowadays, and milder when it does come up—a result of the practices I’ve learned through my own journey with it. As I mentioned on Instagram, I’ll be doing a few posts this month in response to questions I’ve received from readers—one being, “How do you deal with comparison and feelings of discouragement when it comes to other bloggers and writers?” Thinking about my response to this question got me excited to share what’s been so effective for me.
For anyone who’s ever felt small after scrolling social media, or like someone else’s success was a sucker punch in the gut, below are three practices in combating comparison. They’ve brought me much freedom, and I pray they do the same for you.
LET YOU BE ENOUGH
If we hinge our worth on our work, it’s bound to be devastating, because someone will always be better, and someone will always be worse. This leaves two options: inferiority, or pride. I have to remind myself that the response my work receives does not define me. Starting my day steadied in the Truth of who He says I am, rather than what social media tells me I’m not, is key. I’ve also found it helpful to focus on what makes me different, because then I start to see that even if another blogger is similar to me, I bring something unique to the table, and it's big enough to seat us both.
LIVE YOUR JOURNEY, NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S DESTINATION
Looking at where someone has ended up, there’s a temptation to assume it was easy getting there.
Honor your pace. Be where you are, not where someone else is. Remember also, when we scroll through social media, we are comparing everyone else’s highlight reel to our behind-the-scenes—but everyone has a behind-the-scenes. I spent this past weekend exploring Colorado with a blogger friend of mine, Amanda Marie of She Is Captivating. Prior to this trip, we’d seen each other’s pretty and polished feeds but this weekend, I saw her scrambling to get prepared for the first day of her grad program, and she saw me slapping on makeup in the car as she drove us to church. Even the girl you think has it together has stresses and struggles and when we’re honest with those, connection becomes the cure for comparison.
LIFT OTHERS UP AND DON’T STOP
There seems to be a movement in recent years of #empoweringwomen—our challenge now is to live it out, even in the moments where lifting up another feels like it’s taking away from us. I’ve found it important to be intentional in showing support to other bloggers around me, when it comes naturally and when I’m fighting feelings of comparison. I think of the times people have encouraged me and what it’s meant, so I figure, if someone else’s writing has touched me, why not tell them? We shouldn't show support to receive it in return—one, that won't always happen and two, it's missing the point.
Not only has doing this consistently helped me to combat comparison, it’s freed me to genuinely enjoy the gifts of others. Another powerful way of undoing the hold the lie of scarcity has on you, is to pray for the person you're comparing yourself to—lifting them up quite literally.
Notice I call these practices, because their potency is found in consistency. They aren’t a once-and-your-struggle-is-done type deal, but rather a way of life—one I’ve found to improve every area of life.
What practices help you deal with comparison? Let me know! Have a blog or website? Leave your link in the comments—I’d love to check it out and show you some love!