Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comparison is a Thief - My Confession

I read this quotation by Theodore Roosevelt quite some time ago. It resonated with me then but recently I’ve been giving it considerable thought.  

I began reading this book and doing the exercises along with some other readers and my fellow blogger and friend Allison (of WardrobeOxygen). Thanks to the book and work, I have been doing lots of soul searching lately. I realized that I’ve been playing comparison roulette with myself for quite some time. For my entire life I have been a wall of confidence on the outside, masking lots of insecurities on the inside. My outward bravado was the best smoke and mirrors. I would bet that most people who know me would never believe I have these insecurities because I don’t let them show.
In addition to being a blogger, I’m also an avid blog reader. There lies the comparison roulette. I love reading other fashion blogs, decorating blogs, and beauty blogs. I began to realize that in addition to appreciating these great blogs, I was also constantly comparing my blog to theirs. I began wondering how they were getting so many sponsors and affiliations (i.e. paid posts and freebies). How they had so many readers and followers. What I was doing wrong. See, there it is, that “what is wrong with me?” thing that has been creeping into my head for most of my life.

Through my writing for The Artist’s Way, I started to think about why I was falling into this old trap. I know many of us are constantly comparing ourselves to others. But why? Even though we have similar pursuits and interests, everyday life does not have to be the Olympic Games. Isn’t personal happiness and individual success reward enough? I think my comparison issue lies in the semi-competitive nature of blogging. I’ve never been a size 4, with long skinny legs, and an unlimited budget for clothes. I’ve never been the “it girl” that always did the cool and trendy things. I’ve just been myself. Why should that matter? Some of my favorite bloggers aren’t any of those things either. Admittedly, there are things I could do to improve my blog and if I spent more time on it those things wouldn’t be difficult to do. No matter how hard I work on my blog, it won’t change my body type, make me instantly rich or the “it girl”. 

Those things that I am not shouldn't really matter because for the most part, I really like the person that I am and the woman I've become. I have very few regrets in life because I think that dwelling on the past is a waste of time. Thankfully, I'm not someone who has been driven by guilt because even though I had many internal insecurities, I don't often care what other people think of me. I did and do what I want to do.

I also started playing comparison roulette immediately following our wedding. It was truly the most wonderful day of my life. I loved everything about the day, the way things turned out and the beauty of it all. But when I sat down to start writing blog posts to show off our day, I became super critical of everything, comparing myself to every wedding online, for no good reason. That is why I haven’t done any wedding posts or submitted photos to other blogs and sites. I’m planning to remedy that problem this week. It was our perfect day. That’s what matters. Perfect for us, not for anyone else.

As I was writing this post, I had a bit of revealation. All of a sudden I thought, wow! I know what's happening. This internal criticsm and comparsion has become so harsh lately because I want it all. I want personal success, work success, blog success, an all around great life and to have joy. Reaching for the highest goals isn't a bad thing, as long as you are really working toward those goals and not just wishing for them.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, through all of my soul searching I’ve determined that being kinder and less critical of me is crucial. Comparison and personal criticism truly is stealing my joy. It’s why I took such a long break from blogging, something I love to do. It had ceased to be fun for me. Thanks to my work on The Artist’s Way, I’m making goals and going to start taking steps to make the improvements that will increase my joy. I’m a goal oriented person and setting those personal goals will pull me up and out of where I have been. I honestly don’t have all of the answers. I’ve figured out some of what I need to do for myself and that’s a start. If you are also falling into the comparison trap, ask yourself why. Start by deciding what you want from your own life and not what others have that you don’t. A positive path, even if it’s uncharted is much better than a negative one. But it is a path and you will never get anywhere without taking steps. Just wishing and wondering will never get you there. With that I will leave you with my favorite poem. Walking my own path and making my own way has always been a good thing for me. I know that keeping that in mind won't fail me. 
The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-        Robert Frost

NOTE: Reading The Artist's Way has been a great tool for me. If you're a creative person, I highly recommend giving it a try (my copy came from a used book store). I wasn't compensated for including it or mentioning it here. I just think it's a great book.

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