It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me when I admit that I have fairly low self-confidence. I don’t want this to be a pity-party, because I am well-aware that I am not the only one in the world to suffer in this way.
What I have always thought was interesting throughout my life is that I am firmly in the ‘You can do anything if you set your mind to it!’ and ‘The sky’s the limit!’ camp. I love seeing motivational quotes (as long as they’re not too cheesy) and I always nod my head sagely when I see them but I never believe these things about myself. I’ll shake my friends until they believe that they are incredible and amazing and capable of anything in this world, but I refuse to believe these things myself. I can bet I’m not the only one.
I recently re-read Sophie DeWitt’s book, Compared to Her. It does have a Christian focus but regardless of your religious views, DeWitt makes some really good observations about how we compare ourselves to others. There’s the classic ‘looking up’ comparison when we look at celebrities or friends who seem to have it all and for whom life just seems so easy and we feel like we pale in comparison. Then there’s the ‘looking down’ comparison when we look at people (usually people we know) and think ‘Well, at least I’m not like her’. The second of these is the hardest to admit to but both forms of comparison are equally as damaging to us.
Of course, these kinds of comparison are rife on social media, especially Instagram and Facebook. It’s easy to look up and feel inadequate on Instagram with everyone’s perfectly curated feed and it’s easy, on Facebook, to look down on those people from school who might not be doing as well as you and you are lying if you say you haven’t done that before.
Just this week, I was looking for inspiration on my next blog when I started flicking around on some of my favourite blogs. I went through Beth Sandland’s blog, Lareese Craig’s and Chloe Plumstead’s looking for something I could use as a basis for a blog. Then I turned to my own blog trying to be motivated to write by my new design and layout – I looked at my photo on the side and thought ‘Gee, I actually look a bit like I know what I’m doing and like I have it together’. All this while I sat cramped at my tiny desk in my PJ’s with tears at how frustrated I was that I couldn’t think of anything to write about.
It’s okay to admit that you’re not good at something. I am never going to be able to take the kind of photos that the bloggers I admire take – the ones I mentioned above are fashion and lifestyle bloggers so their blogs are naturally different from mine. They make money off their blogs and I don’t, so I can’t afford to hire a photographer, nor could I ever afford the clothes they wear (even if my body shape allowed it). If I really wanted to, I could say ‘Well, that’s okay, I might not be able to take photos like they do but at least I am a better writer’, but that’s not necessarily true, nor is it a fair fight. Just like they make money off their penchant for fashion, I have a day job as a copywriter.
I cannot compare myself to them because they’re playing a whole different game to me. That’s something I think we all have to get used to – we’re all playing a different game in life. It’s okay to admit that you’re bad at some things and good at others. The problem is when you start comparing your progress with others. All of us are learning, we’re just at different stages so we need to use each other to learn from our different experiences rather than looking for ways to rank ourselves.
Let’s learn from each other instead of comparing ourselves to each other. After all, comparison is the thief of joy and we’re not going to be content with where we’re at until we’ve got rid of it.