I’ve written about this topic before (click here to read my other posts) but it’s something that I don’t think can be talked about enough, so I’m going to write about it again. What issue am I talking about? Comparison. This is a word that has bombarded our media and has addressed about so many times that we can become desensitized to it and the harm that comparison can cause us. I have fallen into the comparison trap more times than I can count and have lived many years of my life there. While some days I can say that I am living in a post-comparison world, there are many days that I have to continually remind myself that I am not meant to be like others and that others are not meant to be like me.
The biggest trigger for me is social media. Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram and Facebook as much as the next person, but sometimes it can be hard to separate social media from reality. We never show the whole story online, or if we do we sanitize and doctor it so much that we can hardly recognize the stories we tell. We live in a world where we praise our success but hide the failures, hardships, and sleepless nights that brought us there; and then we look at other people’s highlight reels and wonder why our life doesn’t look that way. I can’t count how many times I’ve been scrolling through social media and have heard myself say “I wish I could do that” or “That person is living the life I wish I had” all the while ignoring the struggles that they have gone through to get to that point. Wishing I had someone else’s body, success, writing skills, or equestrian ability adds nothing to my life and rather than feeding my soul it sucks it dry.
Not only that, but I often find myself comparing the beginning of my journey with the achievements of someone who is farther along than me, someone who has been doing this their entire lives. This is especially true for me when I scroll through Instagram only to see the work of some extraordinary equestrians that I follow. They are working and teaching things that I can only dream of doing; and seeing their success – that they have been working towards day and night for years – and comparing it to my baby steps in the same area is thoroughly discouraging. How could anyone at the very start of something possible measure up to someone else who has been working towards this goal for their entire lives? You can’t. There’s no way around it, and there’s no point in sugar coating it, we cannot compare corners of our lives with the pages of another person. Nor should we want to, because when we compare ourselves with others – whether we’ve met them in real life or not – we not only diminish our lives, but we also reduce the other person to being only one thing. We take this incredibly complex human being and boil them down to one or two aspects that we desire for ourselves. And if we’re not careful, we can go from looking up to someone to idolizing them to objectifying them, all based on wanting what they have.
When I find myself falling down the rabbit hole of comparison and self-deprecation I usually know that that means that I’ve been spending too much time on my phone and not enough time in real life. I have to turn off my phone and remind myself that everyone around me is living a deeply profound and complex life full of trails, tribulations, and triumphs that I know nothing about, just as I am doing the same thing. Everyone is at a different stage of their journey and comparing myself to someone else doesn’t help me in any way shape or form; it only keeps me stuck in feelings of inadequacy and scarcity.
The truth is that none of us knows what another person is going through because no one wants to air their dirty laundry for the world to see. So we post uplifting stories paired with pictures that showcase our best smiles and most exquisite accomplishments. As one of my all-time favourite authors says,
“I’m not equipped to handle what she has, both good and bad and what she has is always a package deal of both. In other words, I’ve been assigned a load I can handle.”
― Lysa TerKeurst
Our lives come as a package deal, both good and bad, and the load and life that we’ve been assigned to live are uniquely ours. So instead of coveting what others have, or living in a state of longing let’s look up towards our Father as we walk forward into the life he has called us to; one that is overflowing with collaboration not competition and compassion instead of comparison. That sounds like a culture I want to be a part of, what about you?