Maybe it’s trending or maybe I’m noticing it more, but there are a ton of posts addressing the dangers of comparing yourself to others—especially you, creatives.
I think it pops up because we need the routine reminder that the comparison game is counterproductive and harmful. As a busy creative, I’d like to share some ways that I am able to quit the comparison game—on my good weeks.
Realize it’s a competition yet an open, loving community.
I’m speaking primarily to writers, but this applies to just about everyone: no matter what you create, someone is going to be ahead of you. Someone had the drive, the money, the time, and the connections, and they’re likely a few steps ahead of you. That’s life! Just as likely, someone is probably perusing your website and noticing how you’re a few steps ahead of them, too. Envy is a thing, and I know it’s hard to overcome.
It’s harder when those people are your friends. Or they’re just plain nice or otherwise good at what they do.
The amazing thing about creatives using social media is how generally nice everyone is. You’ve got your competitive people that might try to intimidate you, but many of my fellow writers, artists, and musicians are open to collabs, joint giveaways, or public support. It’s amazing to watch people who might compete in the same genre, but still buy each other’s stuff and leave good reviews.
People are nicer than we ever thought possible. Creatives aren’t out there to be better than you; they just want to get paid to do the things they love. I usually feel a lot better about my future books, knowing that I have other author friends who will be at the finish line to celebrate with me when it’s my turn.
Life will always get in the way.
Writers especially always wonder “How do you have the time to write?” There is so much LIFE stuff that gets in the way—studying, working, chores, stresses, disabilities, anxiety, depression, and more. All we can do is accept life events and stresses as they come and deal with it.
Our mentors and idols all struggle with the same stuff. Maybe they’re better at hiding it than we are. It’s just a normal thing to have setbacks and struggles when we want to be productive and successful.
I admire the people who have “made it” who share their continual ups and downs with their fans and followers. It shows a healthy balance of going out there and “slaying all day” while also letting themselves untangle stress, illness, and other disappointments.
I’d encourage you to follow “real” people who are legit in every aspect of their dream-achieving lifestyle, not just the ones that are only successful and happy.
Analyze the expectations & where they’re coming from.
If you’ve ever dabbled in blogging or self-promoting, it’s a beast. So many social media gurus tell you how many days you should be posting on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram a day—and it’s maddening. Who has time for that? [Likely, people who are making their product a full-time or part-time endeavor.]
I have felt that burning pressure before, and it’s not fun. It feels like if you haven’t touched your goals, you might as well give up the whole thing because no one knows you or cares about your product.
Have you ever read a really good book in your genre and felt like “Well, this author is just too amazing—why bother writing my own stuff?” I felt the same way after reading Marissa Meyer’s book, Cinder just earlier this year. Fast forward to her book signing just last week: I overheard her gushing about one of her favorite authors and how much she wishes she wrote like that other author. Famous writers—they’re just like us, right?
Most of our expectations are likely self-brewed. We see how other people are functioning—most of that being via social media—and assume that whatever other people are doing right is what we should aim for.
I know this comparison game because I play it weekly, but I can also tell that when I’m being envious, I’m being frustrated for the wrong reasons, and it’s disrupting my own work. I am self-sabotaging myself before anyone else is taking a swing at it.
Most of these unrealistic expectations are in my head, they aren’t real, and they aren’t useful goal measurements. We gotta help each other recognize the self-sabotaging wherever it affects us and put an end to it.
Acknowledge your own achievements & weaknesses.
When I’m envying someone’s success, I’m ignoring my own strengths, achievements, hard work, and talents. Like, I can admit I’m not the worst. Like, I complain that I never have time to do what I want because I spend so much time at work. Hello? I get to edit for a living and I’m paid full-time. I know a lot of people wouldn’t mind that kind of setup!
You have great experiences, talents, gifts, and positive personality traits that I’m sure at least one person envies. So we could all take some time to remember that we are #blessed and we have what it takes to reach our goals if we just believe in the possibility.
I think you already know what’s holding you back, such as a lack of time, passion, or discipline. If you truly want to get paid to do what you love, you have to treat yourself with kindness but also be real with yourself. Remind yourself to shake off the complaining and the self-doubt and start channeling your energy towards your life’s work.
That’s pretty much what I have. If you’d like to see other posts on comparison that inspires me, check out these links and give these writers some love:
- Writers: Judge Yourself by Your Own Standards by Kate M Colby
- Episode Eleven: Comparison by The Prodigal Sisters
- 3 Secrets to Believing Yourself by The Confused Millennial
How does comparing yourself affect you, and how do you get out of a slump?
8 comments on “4 Things to Remember When Playing the Comparison Game”
The one thing I so often try to remember, when it comes to making any sort of life comparison, is the sentiment that “comparison is the thief of joy.” You forget to relish your own achievements and important accomplishments when you take comparisons too far. Sometimes it’s motivating to look at what other people have done, but it stops being helpful the moment we put ourselves down for not creating or doing something similar with our own lives.
So true! It’s good to see where people have set the bar, only so we can beat it, not beat ourselves with it. Thanks for commenting!
One of the ways I combat the comparison disease is by turning off the “good advice” writers, who tell you what you “should” do, and instead turn to community. As you say, when the people who’re so far ahead of you are your *friends*, you’re much more inclined to cheer their successes instead of envy them. And when you’ve watched your friends’ journeys, it can be an encouragement to think that “If she’s done it, maybe I can too.”
And I love the Jack Sparrow illustration. 😀
Thanks! Jack Sparrow is fully of great life quotes. And I agree; I want to help other writers, but I don’t want to be caught telling them what to do—since their genre, life experience, and goals are different from mine. And it does make me happy when our circle of friends do well. I know a younger version of myself would be too jealous to have legit writing friends. Glad I’m over that!
GREAT post… I waaaaay too often fall into the competition / comparison trap. Especially on Instagram. Freaking Instagram. Anyhoo, happy to have found your blog! New follower here! <3 – http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com
Thanks for reading, Gingi! Freaking Instagram, indeed! Thanks for following—we subscribed back. 🙂
haha love the post… awesome!
Thank you! 🙂