Hands up, everyone who looked at a model in a magazine recently and thought, with a sigh, “I’ll never look like that.” And everyone who has walked into a friend’s house and thought, “Why can’t I get my house to look like it’s on the cover of Architectural Digest like she can?” Who has looked at a well-behaved child while yours was acting up and felt like an inferior parent. Who started writing that novel that was going to be so, so awesome and then looked at the first paragraph and realized it would never match up to Toni Morrison or David Sedaris.
Come on, get ‘em up where we can see ‘em. Yeah, just as I thought: pretty much everybody. (And if I’m being honest, my hand is up, too.)
Another question: how do you feel in those moments? Like you’re strong enough to take on the world? Or more like you’d prefer the earth to open up and swallow you whole? Uh-huh. I thought so.
Stop comparing yourself!!
I am here today to tell you that this non-stop comparison is deadly. And I do mean deadly. It will kill your creativity and your confidence deader than a can of Raid kills bugs. It will create barriers between you and the people around you. It will destroy your self-worth and erode your energy.
Everyone struggles with comparison because we’re taught to do it. When we learn to compete, we learn to check how we stack up against everyone else. Some of this sort of comparison can be good if it drives us forward, but too much of it just knocks us into the ground, reeling and unable to figure out how to get back up. (And for those who look at kids who run themselves into the ground in college or worse, and smugly say, “Eh, they just couldn’t hack it,” I can only say that they shouldn’t have to. Not unless we want to encourage self-destruction.)
Why comparison makes no sense
Part of the problem with comparison is that we don’t see the whole picture. That magazine model? Airbrushed. If you saw what she looked like pre-Photoshop, you wouldn’t feel nearly so bad about yourself. That beautiful home may be the result of a crippling case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. And that well-behaved child may turn into a complete hellion at home.
The other part of the problem with comparison is that there’s just no basis for it. So someone’s already written an epic novel about the Civil War, or written a symphony about Antarctica, or painted water lilies on a pond. Yours will be different. It can’t not be. The cool thing about art is that each of us put our own unique imprint on a subject. I’ve seen it happen many times, such as in SoulCollage® classes where everyone makes a card on the same theme. Are any two the same? Nope. Are any two even close? Nope.
Get out there and do your thing and be awesome and stop giving a crap how what you do measures up to anyone else. You are your own yardstick—the only one that matters. And if you need a visual reminder, I offer you this one:
Scales image courtesy www.stockmonkey.com