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Comparison is the thief of joy

About six weeks ago, I had a little extra time one day and was perusing blogs. I somehow stumbled upon this beautiful blog written by an even more beautiful woman.

As I read her posts, I began to feel very inadequate. She was pretty, in shape, creative, witty, had a gorgeous home, had more children than me, and really seemed to have it altogether.

I started to feel ugly, disorganized, out of shape, and like a really pathetic woman in comparison to her. But I kept on reading–and continued to feel even worse.

Then I landed upon a post where she talked about this woman that she so admired and wanted to be like. I was shocked when I clicked on the link and discovered the woman she was referring to was me.

Yes, this woman whom I felt I paled in comparison to wanted to be like me.

And then I realized how silly this was. Here she wanted to be me and I was secretly wishing I were her.

It hit me anew just how easy it is to want what we don’t have–better hair, better decorating skills, a better personality, more creativity, more spunk… there’s always someone who it seems we’d like to trade places with because they have what we want.

But trading places with someone wouldn’t fix anything; we’d just inherit a new set of things we wish we could change. No one has it altogether. Everyone has struggles and difficulties.

Comparison only leads to discontentment.

We can’t change who we are, but we can make the most of our situation. We can’t choose the personality we are born with, but we can choose to be thankful–even in the midst of difficulty.

And we can choose to be intentional and purposeful in how we live our lives so that we make the most of all that we’ve been given instead of wishing we were someone else.

I loved this part of Amy Lynn Andrew’s post on The Trouble With Blogging:

…Never forget that what you see on the screen is not the whole picture.

Never forget that the people behind the blogs are, well, people…with unorganized cupboards, unmanaged time schedules (ahem!), cranky children (ahem again!), painful stories, crafty train wrecks, struggling marriages, unpaid bills and burnt meat loaf. (Those are the examples I use, because those have all been me behind the scenes.)

Never forget that their story and their journey and their choices apply to them, not to you.

You are who you are for a reason. You are where you are a for a reason. Don’t do what I do and beat yourself up for not being where someone else is. It’s a colossal waste of time.

Appreciate everyone else’s outside, but embrace your inside. (Read the full post here–it’s fantastic!)

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  • Melody says:

    Thanks so much for this great reminder.

  • Terrific reminder that comparison only leads to negative feelings. I’m wrestling with this today as it’s 2 pm and I sit here still in my pajamas staring at a long list of to-dos.

  • Tawni Miller says:

    Thank you! I suffer from “comparitivism” at times as well and need a good kick in the pants sometimes:)

  • Oh thank you again Crystal! Another timely, needed post! God is good! I’m grateful for you! I too read that article from Amy and loved it and shared it. But today has been one of those days 🙁 not good enough in anything and feeling overwhelmed in everything! Just so grateful for helping me remember, I’m Good Enough !

  • Karin says:

    I’m actually weeping to read this post. I’ve been struggling about this. I moved to the US for marriage, and still has no friends.(over 7 years) I read many blogs b/c no people from my home country here in the small city. I so hope to move to the big city in the future, but maybe very less chance b/c of my hubby’s job. I have kids and very happy with my situation as a SAHM, but still feel so lost and lonely. Everybody but me looks so rich and happy and visit my country at least once a year. I was born as a middle child and was always compared to other sisters. I hated that but I do the same thing to my kids now. I understand comparison makes no sense, but can’t help it. I feel I’m so worthless. But after read ‘You are who you are for a reason. You are where you are a for a reason.’ that touched me so much. I should do something to stop thinking negative and comparing to others. Thanks so much for sharing this post.

    • Sarah says:

      Aw, I’m so sorry you’re struggling like this! Where do you live? If you live in NH we can meet up! <3

    • Kathleen says:

      Sorry to hear that you’re struggling so much. And I understand your struggles. I moved to the US 9 years ago (I’m from Germany) and it can be a challenge. Making friends isn’t that easy, for once because I tend to do certain things differently than people here, and also if I do meet up with German ladies it seems everything is always about Germany.

      • Karin says:

        I’m very shy, and so that makes me harder to make friends here… I kind of get used to this situation, but sometimes I feel so lonely by myself, even with my family. I have few online friends from my country who live in the US, but they live far away and can’t actually meet them. But I feel I should do something. Hope I can find friends someday. Thank you so much for your reply.

    • Amy Zuck says:

      Yes please find a group that you could join. Maybe a MOPS group they normally meet at a church? Try searching for “moms group” and your area and maybe something will come up. When you’re a SAHM you really need that group of friends : ) Hope you don’t mind if I pray for some friends for you : )

    • karin, I would encourage you t o find some online forums for woemn who have similar interests to yours. You may find a chance to make friends in that way.

      Another thing that really helps me, is to invite over a couple from church with whom I feel I could become friends. Have a faily over for dinner.

      Take classes where you might meet others with similar interests.

      I used to live in Geneva, Switzerland. Everytime I got on the bus, I would heard 20 different languages. People from all over th e world live there.

      And at church, I watched as these women from everywhere served one another, and befriended one another. A woman from Italy and a woman from teh Congo were good friends. I saw love and caring from women from South America and Europe.

      Reach out to others, and you will find friends!

      • Karin says:

        I’m not a Christian(have different religion), so I don’t go to a specific church here. My in-laws go to their church, but that pastor refused me in the past(because I’m not a christian) when I got married to my hubby, so I don’t go that church. I wish I could be a member of a church, because there seems like many chances to meet people/moms. But I’m thinking about join the coupon forum and hoping to see someone in my area. Thank you so much for your reply.

        I didn’t expect to see such a wonderful and warm comments here for me. Thank you all ladies so much again for taking your time to write to me!!! 🙂

  • Great post, and how crazy that the lady you were admiring so was wishing she were you! Wow! So true that we only see a little glimpse through the blog world, and that glimpse is what the blogger chooses to show…so different than knowing someone in real life.

  • Carrie says:

    Thank you for sharing so openly. I, too, fall victim to the trap of comparing my weaknesses to others’ strengths. Sometimes without even realizing that it has happened; I just feel bad all over for not being “enough”. When I catch myself in this negativity, it helps to remember that there will always be someone younger, prettier, smarter, or more loving. But, the bloggers I really admire give me a good visual of who I want to be when I am trying to be MY best. Thanks for all you do! I can’t wait to read your book!

  • Ruth Schwenk says:

    Wow! What a powerful story Crystal! I love that you shared this because it is an eye-opener for all of us. It can be so easy to compare. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  • Kerrye says:

    I cannot be reminded of this enough. One of my most popular posts is one where I figured out a good way to fold my towels to fit on a shelf. The picture looks so pretty – and it WAS a successful moment for me. But, what no one saw was the rest of the closet where that towel shelf was located! (thanks to picnic and crop…) LOL!

  • Wonderful post, Crystal! The secret to winning the battle against comparison is contentment and thankfulness. I am thankful that God made me who I am because He made me to glorify Him in my own unique way because I am me!

  • Amy Zuck says:

    Wow! What perfect timing! I was having a bad day yesterday and one of the last straws (there were several lol) was reading a blog of someone doing all these accomplishments. I was practically in tears telling my husband how this person was doing so much and the baby is going through a bad stage and all I want to do is sleep! His advice, so stop reading it lol. Guess I felt too guilty to even do that. Next status in facebook is going to be “I WILL NOT COMPARE MYSELF TO OTHER, I WILL NOT COMPARE MYSELF TO OTHERS” lol why do women do that? Thanks SO much for posting!!!!!!!!!!

  • Beth says:

    Thanks for this post, Crystal!

  • One day my niece came over, and I was in the middle of setting up for a photo for my website. I had a table cloth and the food set up on one end of the table where I was taking the photograph.

    She took one look at it and started laughing. She said, “I love how your house can be a mess, but that part looks so pretty!”

    I think that’s the reality for a lot of sites!

    • Brandi, you are so right. And I think that most bloggers will admit that their blog is not a complete representation of who they are. There’s no way it can me. I know that for me, I will probably never post a pic of dirty dishes in the sink. NOT because they are not there, because they are. All. The. Time. But I feel like if someone wants to see dirty dishes they can look in their own sink. I truly admire other bloggers who do post dirty dishes pics, I’m just not one of them.

      I also think that it’s not just a blog problem. Most women are prone to compare. I know if I see someone (even someone I don’t know) who looks all put together I think “Why can’t I be more like that?” Then I remind myself that all I’ve seen is a glimpse.

  • Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    Thanks for the great reminder! I am working hard to let comparisons kill my joy!

  • Lorie says:

    Thanks for this great post! I have felt the same way before, and I have to remember to quiet that inner inadequacy.
    Whenever I read things are going great with others and rejoice with them. I also remember that most people only want to put good things on blogs or Facebook because they want to lift others up, now drag them down. I know this after talking with friends face to face…plus I am the same way!

  • Broke Girl says:

    Donald Miller pinpoints this problem (may have been in his book “Blue Like Jazz”), and I have never ever forgotten it. Said Miller, something to the effect that: There *was no comparison* in the Garden of Eden.

    It seems to me nearly every sin, wrong, trouble, angst in this world can be linked back to our need to *compare* ourselves with others. Like a dandelion, the craving to “one-up” and be just a notch above/better than the rest. Me, too; I get it. But what a great example / story in which Crystal finds the circle right back to herself! Kind of like the dog that chases his tail… Bless you.

  • What a great post, Crystal, and so true. We never know the full picture, especially with blogs, and our time would be better spent appreciating what we already have and focusing on how to change what we don’t like. Easier said than done, I know 🙂

  • Jen Knox says:

    This is exactly how I feel about Pinterest. Sometimes I feel worse using it rather than better. That’s why my reading list has really narrowed lately and only about five sites are consistently on that list, one of which is your site, Crystal! 🙂

  • Christine says:

    Back in October 2007, I was searching for ways to save money, articles and blogs kept referring to the blog moneysavingmom, I looked it up and was hooked. At that time she just had baby #2 and she was going on and on about how to save money and she taught me how to shop at CVS and Walgreens. At that time there was very few blogs that had that kind of information. A whole new view of money was opened up to me. Not only did she tell me how to use coupons, but also how to rethink how you spend and save before you buy. I kepted saying to myself (she didn’t have many pictures of herself and no videos at that time) this person is so wise and knowledge she has to be as old as me (39) or older. Then one day I read she was only 24 and I about fell out of my chair. This wise, knowledge person, teaching me so much, was only 24. All I kept thinking was how does she know so much in such a short time. I envied you so much. I wished I could go back in time and know that much at 24. I finally realized at least I know what I know now and can give the knowledge to my daughters at least. Thank you Crystal for being the person you are and you will always be the person who change my point of view in life a little over four years ago. I am almost debt free except I still have half my mortage. In four years I did the snowball effect and paid off a car, a camper, all credit card debt and saved enough to pay for my brand new car with cash) I plan to pay the house off in four more years and we still have 15 years left on it but I paid 11 years of it just in the past two years. It’s amazing how just a different view in life can make things so much better.

  • Chelsea says:

    I loved this post that I read in my email. It is such a great reminder that although we are jealous of other people’s lives, God made us all different and unique for a reason and he loves all of us equally no one is better than anyone else. Just a great post!

  • My desk is ALWAYS a mess. And it’s right where everyone can see when people come over. I hate that, but I am busy doing other things, and it quickly gets messy again.

    One day I dropped in on a friend unexpectedly. She often drops by to see me, and is usualy kind enough to not mind that I do dishes while we visit 🙂 The day I went to see her, I saw her desk–and it looked like mine! I stopped worrying right them about how my house looked when she came to visit. It was so refreshing, and I literally giggled when I saw it!

    • Jenn says:

      I love having friends that will come over and chat when I clean. Sometimes you need someone not emotionally attached to your stuff to tell you to let it go!

  • sarah says:

    I like it. Very very true.

  • Kelly Cain says:

    God used this post in helping to pick my one word! Thank you! Here’s my post about it:

  • I struggle with this a lot. It’s comforting to know that even “big bloggers” feel the pressure too sometimes. Thanks for posting!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Stopping by from Say Hi Sunday! That is a great quote at the top of your post!!!

  • Wow! You took the words right outta my….I wrote a poem on how we compare…for a women’s gathering. Thanks for this!

  • Madelaine says:

    Fantastic post! So true in so many ways! Thank you for sharing 🙂

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