Comparison is the enemy of authenticity. In the day and age where people’s lives are displayed prominently and proudly, it is incredibly easy to consider what our own lives are next to those we view from the outside. Social media is a blessing allowing long-distance communication like never before. Friendships and family relationships no longer have to suffer the pains of distance in the way they used to.
Social media is also a dangerous, influential place. It is a place where we highlight our own lives in snippets and quick jots. A place where our ugliest selves are usually banned and barred from. Yet, somehow, even though we all know that we only put our best moments up for display we simultaneously compare ourselves to other people’s feeds as if their entire lives were as problem-free and amazing as their Instagram or Pinterest board photos.
Sound familiar? I can’t say for certain you do this but I definitely do.
When I tried to start painting again I loaded up my social media accounts, followed dozens of artists, and started admiring their work. Only my admiration shifted into a giant green gelatinous blob of envy, self-doubt, and shame. That’s their painting?! Mine looks like someone threw chicken nuggets covered in paint at a canvas… constantly ran threw my head when I’d read the quirky titles and synopses under their master crafted works.
I stopped painting. Discouraged. Defeated. Deflated. I didn’t even want to paint anymore. I couldn’t think of a single thing I wanted to make because nothing would live up to everyone else. At first, I just tried making paintings I knew people would like. Subjects that I knew were popular. It sucked the enjoyment from my soul like a leech. That’s when I stopped all together.
I had fallen into the trap of comparing myself to the picture perfect image of social media. I’m not alone either. One of my friends admitted in privacy that she stopped working out because she could never look like those yogis on Insta. Another friend gave up on his dream of being a writer because how could his work ever be recognized among the masterpieces he was competing with?
It’s not just social media though. It’s everyone and everywhere. Comparisons to supposedly more successful friends, happier marriages, or stronger financial independence. No matter the source, it has the same end results.
I’m putting my foot down. This has to stop. I have to stop. I’ve researched and complied a list of ways to end the never-ending war on ourselves that is comparison.
These ideas can be read further in How to Stop Feeling Like Shit, Habits of Successful People, and countless other personal development books.
- Unfollow. If you followed someone because they’re good at what you want to do and you were looking for inspiration but find yourself less inspired or feeling down after scrolling through their social media, unfollow them.
- Do your thing for you. This one is more challenging. We all want support and recognition and the fastest way to get it is online. If you’ve been avoiding doing it because of comparisons though, do it for yourself. Once you’re happy with it and you’re proud of yourself for it, then if you want to go ahead and share it. Don’t share it for recognition though. Give yourself that recognition first!
- Connect with people at that same skill level. Part of this comparison catastrophe is viewing people who have been doing whatever it is for much longer than we have. Years more in some cases. If you can’t resist comparing at all, join a local group or a social media group filled with people at or near your current skill level. Help each other grow, enjoy the support, and make friends!
- Be self-compassionate! This is a huge one for me. Remind yourself that you are seeing the highlight reel of that persons life and their background is probably just as messy, chaotic, and interesting as you find your own. Be gentle on yourself and remember that being you is the best thing you can ever be. The world needs you because no one else can fill that role.
I’m not great at these. I did unfollow every artist that I can’t help but comparing myself to. I did write myself up a dozen positive affirmation sticky notes telling me to paint just for me. Paint whatever I authentically and genuinely want to even if I think no one will like it. It matters if I like it.
I hope this has been a bit informational and a bit inspirational! It was cathartic for me so I’m glad I wrote it out!
Do you ever find yourself stuck in a hole of comparisons? How do you motivate and validate yourself in the face of self-doubt? I love hearing all your thoughts in my comments!