I have struggled with comparing myself to others my entire life, and I know I’m not alone in this. Comparing ourselves to others can be the greatest self-torture device we can inflict upon ourselves. I am nearly 26 years old, and I still have not managed to break free from its lead weight shackles. In fact, as I write this, I am going through a particularly rough bout of it so I figured, why not try and turn this into a positive and get my thoughts down on paper…perhaps they will help, or at least comfort, someone else out there.
Comparison, and everything that goes with it, creeps up on me when I am maybe already feeling a little vulnerable. It infects and corrupts everything, making me resentful of my perfectly nice life, the people in it and most of all, myself. Whether it be physical appearance, job, friends, life experiences, travel – the comparison, jealously, hopelessness and ultimately self-hatred can snowball out of control. Therefore, it is so important to reset once in a while. Whereas healthy competition can be a good thing, it is essential to become aware of where the line between this and toxic comparison and jealousy is.
The spiral normally starts for me with social media. I’ve spoken about the toxic side of social media in a blog post before here (link), briefly touching on comparison there. Social media has a lot to answer for in terms of our mental health, like with many things in this digital age it deals in extremes. I know you will have heard it so many times before, but what we see online is very rarely real. I try and show my real self online as much as possible, but even then it’s only a snapshot of a moment. It’s one millisecond of your day and it’s usually the best one. Now, again there is nothing wrong with this! I talk about in my toxic side of social media post just how much I continue to enjoy social media, but it’s acknowledging that it might not always reflect real life and knowing when to step back when you feel that jealousy and comparison creeping in. Don’t compare yourself to someone’s one social media post, it’s not a reflection of their whole self.
This can be said about the reserve too! Sometimes deciding on whether to post a specific image on Instagram can become a life-or-death decision simply because I spend too much time questioning whether this picture represents who I am, or what I want to put across, to people online. But it is simply impossible to sum yourself up completely in one image. You are not one image, or even a collection of images. Try not to overthink it, I know, easier said than done, but don’t compare, or be harsh on yourself to point of not wanting to post anything. You have just as much a right to post about what you want to post about as anyone else!
When you try and be someone you are not, to attract certain people or come across a certain way, although the draw to do this can be strong, ultimately it will lead to unhappiness because you are not being yourself. It is exhausting to keep this up and when you are your authentic self (I know, cringe) you will attract people that like you, for you.
But it’s not all down to those picture-perfect, ‘everything is great’ Instagram accounts. We compare ourselves just as much to people in our real lives as we do those on the internet. With both these things we need to understand where healthy competition and the drive to better ourselves, turns toxic, obsessive, and self-deprecating. Remember that we are each on our own journey and although it is always good to strive for more, it doesn’t hurt to stop and be grateful for what we already have.
Although it is difficult at the time to see but comparing, and therefore trying to be what you think others want, what you think YOU want, is exhausting. When you slowly let that drop, and just be yourself, it allows you to enjoy what you actually truly enjoy and attract people that will complement you and your personality.
We are all prone to comparing ourselves to others and jealousy, we are human after all. Remember: you are allowed to have feelings of comparison and jealousy, but you mustn’t let them take over your life. Like anxiety or any negative feelings, it is important to acknowledge them but then take steps to combat them.
The important thing is to not be too hard on yourself when this happens, take a step back, engage and reconnect with the real world around you and focus on something that makes you feel good and empowered. I recently decided to just take an evening, do my makeup and take some self-portraits. It honestly made me feel so good and I had such a fun couple of hours! I would highly recommend it! To see how they came out, check out my Instagram here!
If you have any more tips on how to curb comparing yourself to others, feel free to leave me a comment below!