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Let’s all quit the comparison game… for good!
As is often the case, this blog post title reads both ways – why I needed to quit the comparison game… and why you should too.
Further to kicking off the Ten Years In series I’ve been thinking about the stuff I’ve learned from being a blogger and growing a small business… and I don’t mean the How To and geekery stuff – lots of that is (and will be) covered here.
I’ve got a whole host of notes scribbled down, all ready to be expanded into plenty of soul-searching ramblings – mainly because I wanted this series to be more about the things I’ve learned about myself along the way. The pitfalls of navigating a previously untrodden path, the highs and lows of successes and mistakes and more than that, all the negative things that, if left to rampage on unchecked, can end up having an impact on our wellbeing and mental health.
So in no particular order, I’m kicking off with comparison.
Comparison has at times tied me in knots when it comes to my ten years in blogging. I honestly can’t remember if I gave into it prior to the blogging and social media explosion years. I’m pretty sure I did as most humans do. I just think that now, there are so many more ways that that we can find to inadvertently feed the beast.
How Comparison has effected me personally
Working by and large on your own, you have free reign to soak up all the other blogs/Instagram feeds/creative entrepreneur websites out there. In the last ten years, I’ve watched this amazing online world grow at an astonishingly fast rate, Humans are now revered as this new phenomenon of influencers, careers have been born out of posting daily outfits or parental anecdotes and Goddess (& God) like status has been bestowed upon those who are able to take it to stratospheric levels. To witness this from the fringes is both intoxicating and invigorating.
Before you know it you begin to watch closely what others are doing. Except you’re not close at all as all you’re seeing is the end product output right there on the screen in front of you – it’s not even half the picture. But you start asking yourself “Can I do something similar to that? Maybe if I did X, Y or Z I too could scale something closer to those dizzy heights”. And in doing so, you simply forget one thing. What success was meant to look like for you.
As a forty something mother of one with a busy family life, I would find myself comparing my blog to that of a twenty something with no children or commitments (insert Face Palm emoji here). Bloggers who were free to roam the world at will and carry on producing bundles of timely content… and most likely with one or two (or a whole team of) assistants to help. Not really the same is it?!
Comparison had crept stealthily in and before I knew it, Creativity had slyly nudged Joy and whispered “Come on… let’s pack our bags and get the hell out of here. She’s stopped noticing we even bloody exist!”
In the quest to be successful (and the wrong kind of successful for me it turns out), I felt stifled, burnt out, directionless and frustrated most of the time. Absorbing so much of what everyone else was doing kept me from not even being remotely close to figuring out how I could share more of my own values and what the things that I loved.
I ended up severely disliking this person who continually pitted herself against some unattainable ideal and sometimes even tried to emulate her heroes. She was not me and I’m glad I eventually had the sense to leave her behind.
Why we need to quit
Because it’s a complete waste of time and energy. It will not help you achieve anything. It won’t make you successful. End of story.
As that most famous of quotes on the subject says, comparison is the thief of joy…. and it’s a stealth like thief at that. It’s an entirely negative emotion and serves no purpose except to leave you feeling dissatisfied and left wanting.
Because it’ll stifle the cr*p out of your creativity. There’s no other way to flower it up – that’s what it does.
We are all unique and as such, all have something unique to bring to the table. There is no other you so why are you trying to measure yourself against someone else? When you put it like that…
How to quit it
Practice gratitude instead – I guarantee this will make you feel more way fulfilled and a lot happier. There is so much written now about practicing gratitude – all you have to do is to find a way that works for you and use it.
Celebrate all your successes – large and small. Just acknowledging them will help bring about a sense of self-worth and leave you feeling positive and buoyed up. These are both sworn enemies of comparison and she can rarely get a word in edge-ways when those two are in your head.
Realise that what you see is not what you get. Who are we to think that what we’re shown is a true representation of life behind the scenes? We see an image, read a blog post or a comment on social media and off we go, making a ton of assumptions. Does that mean our assumptions are correct? Hell no! That’s just Comparison’s old friend, Self-Doubt making us feel that that person’s life is of course, way better than ours. Assumption, Comparison and Self-Doubt are the mean girls you never want to fall in with. Walk away and go find your own tribe.
P R A C T I C E E M O T I O N S T H A T F I L L Y O U U P R A T H E R
T H A N D R A I N Y O U R R E S O U R C E S D O W N T O N O T H I N G . . .
Practice seeking inspiration instead. Find inspiration and something to admire in the thing/person/blog/business/Instagram feed that what would have previously brought on a comparison attack. Then go one step further and pay that person a compliment if you like – be the one to spread joy not jealousy. These emotions will fill you up rather that drain your resources down to nothing.
A point of note when it comes to dealing with comparison in blogging:
I think there were two things that really helped me find my sense of self in this particular field again. One was to work with a creative consultant (I was very lucky to work with Monica when she offered this service). All it took was an initial consult and then a couple of hours a month discussion time for just under two years. It was the creative and professional steer I needed into assessing what I stood for and how to get my voice across in my own way. I still smile when I recall that one conversation that lead to us coming up with “Br-Amanda”! Brand Amanda is now what you see here. It may not be groundbreaking or generate me a six figure income but I’m happy and proud of it.
And the other was to completely re-brand the blog. This process was cathartic, curiosity inducing and SO exciting! To be able to produce a whole new look and feel and channel what was a true reflection of who I am into a business felt like the best thing in the world! It involved a hefty business cost that I pondered long and hard over but I consider it to be a worthwhile spend and an investment in the future of the blog.
Waving Goodbye To Comparison…
Ambition, the desire to succeed and fulfil our dreams is always a good thing and should be embraced… but also harnessed.
You have to sort through all the noise to find out what you value, feel aligned with and also what you really want and when you want it. Our life stages continually evolve and the hopes, dream and goals that served you well ten years ago may leave you cold now.
We should check back regularly with the ebb and flow of life so that we don’t end up constantly swimming against the tide with no real purpose. Whether it’s about writing the blog you want to write, making a business out of something you’e passionate about (and really good at) or just plain and simply, living the life you want to live.
If we focus on ourselves instead of others then maybe that’s when the real magic happens…
I’d love to know if you’ve frequently dealt with comparison and managed to find your own way through the fog to finally push it aside and move on? Or is it something you’re still battling on a regular basis?
Feel free to share a comment below. I feel it’s such an important topic and way more common than everyone assumes!
Photography: SarahLou Francis
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