“Why compare yourself to others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” –Anonymous
When I was thinking about what to write, I found myself thinking of some successful people and how smart and creative they are and how they seem to be living “the life.” I realized the reason I often find myself stuck with creativity or in enjoying my life as it is right now is often because I am comparing—comparing myself to others or even to myself from another time. This, of course, brought to mind the famous quote everyone knows by Theodore Roosevelt (even if we didn’t know he was the one who said it): “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So, I decided this is what I will talk about today.
To tell you all the truth, as I began to write this, I found myself afraid to share. I’ve always cherished being honest and real. If someone asks me a question, I want to be as real and honest as I can. I feel we get nowhere pretending we are perfect or live perfect lives. So, instead of listening to my fear and not sharing, or sharing only neat pictures, I may get pretty real in this post. Because they say courage is doing something even if you are afraid. This actually ties in quite nicely with my last post on insecurities and comfort zones, now that I think about it.
We all deal with comparison. I have compared myself to others all my life. Often, I would find myself looking at other’s lives and being disappointed that I’m not like them. My comparison would notice something amazing and beautiful about them, and then follow with a negative about me. Examples: I am not as outgoing as them (I am too quiet), I didn’t get the ACT score they did and I had to take it a billion times to get it close enough to their scores (I must not be smart enough), they get asked to lead praise and worship and I don’t (because I’m too timid and quiet or not a good enough singer), they are given leadership positions (but I am not given any because I am not charismatic or able to lead), they got the dance part (but I didn’t because I am not as good as them), they got the recognition (which means I’m not as good at the job), they got the 4.0 award at graduation (but I, who got a 3.95, must not be worth celebrating—I am lesser), everyone got odd awards (I never did because I’m too quiet that I am forgotten or not good enough), this person has the dream job (but I can’t have the dream job because I am not capable of achieving it). It leaves me believing lies about myself: I am dull, I am too timid, I am not smart enough, not creative enough, not pretty enough, not wanted, not admired, and not capable.
I also notice that, with each comparison, I’m dismissing any achievements I have gained. If I receive something, I follow with “Oh, it was just this once” or “Oh, but they got it three times” or “Oh, I will lose it because I am not good enough to keep it.” I don’t allow myself to appreciate myself or my achievements. I look at my friends’ 4.0s and think, “Man, I just got a 3.95.” (This is the perfect example of the silliness. I mean, seriously, it is a 0.05 difference!) I don’t allow myself to be happy with how I am or where I am at right now, even if I am accomplishing a dream I had.
I think about the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I know it is true. It really does steal away joy. Many of us have also heard this quote by Steven Furtick: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” We all know this, of course. We are all aware. Yet, we continue doing it anyways.
Although I find it hard to believe people would compare themselves to me and wish they were like me, some people have. They see my highlight reels, and wish to be like me. But I, just like most people, don’t share the hard parts or ugly parts of my life. So, I wonder, why such amazing people like them would ever want to be someone as helpless as me? You’d think that would help me to not compare myself to others, and yet, I still compare myself to them.
How do we stop comparing? How do we live life to the fullest, enjoying every season, and embracing where we are in our journey? We know everyone’s journey is different. Yet, we still think the grass looks greener on the other side, until we are on that grass and realize each blade of grass has its challenges. We become so aware of those challenges, that we forget we are living on the grass we always wanted to live on.
Comparison does not only steal our joy. It lies to us. It puts us down. It makes us feel someone else’s life is better. It allows us to covet what others have instead of being grateful for what we have. It puts our focus on the problems in our life rather than the good. Or it minimizes the good in our life.
“Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” –Anonymous
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” –Zen Shin
So, I am here to tell you (and myself) once again, do not compare your life to the highlight reels of someone else’s. You are an amazing person with great ideas. You are capable of achieving your dreams. You offer something unique and wonderful to the world. Maybe someone in your life is a sun or a rose, but that does not discredit you, the moon or the lily, from being any less amazing. Every person faces challenges. We may not always see them, but they are there. What makes the difference is whether the person allows those challenges to become the only focus or if they allow themselves to appreciate the good in their life. There is always something to be thankful for, even if your world is turned upside down. We just need to learn to see it.
Now, if you are like me, you didn’t believe a word of that last paragraph, but I encourage you to daily remind yourself of it. Keep telling yourself it, thinking about it, meditating on what God says about you, until you believe it. Don’t disregard just because you don’t believe it now.
I may not be The Bucket List Family (I know I’m not the only one who thinks their life seems so exciting and adventurous), but that does not mean I can’t live a life of adventure in my every-day life.
I have something to offer to the people around me, and I can live an adventurous life right now in the season I am in. Don’t disregard yourself before you begin.
Blessings to you from this little flower learning how to bloom.
—The Adversity Rose—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, pursuing dreams, and personal growth.