Coffee Talk is a monthly series that dives headfirst into real life territory. Consider it like a deep conversation with a friend where nothing is off limits. Take a seat, grab your mug and let’s chat.
Today’s Coffee Talk topic is one that I’m sure you, your mom, your boss and your friends can all relate to. Yep, you heard that right. No one is safe. So, let’s dive in.
Think of the last time you scrolled through your Instagram feed and thought to yourself,“This girl literally travels the world, has the perfect wardrobe, the perfect hair and the perfect boyfriend. And, said boyfriend/photographer is always there to capture every perfect moment. HOW is this real life? If only I did things that were more interesting…”
Sound familiar? I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been there. In an age of filters and curated feeds, it’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s highlight reel. And when you do, you might wonder why your acai smoothie bowl-free life suddenly looks dull in comparison. And there it is. That word. Comparison.
Maybe you’re trying to start your own business but growth is slow, and you’re scratching your head, wondering why it’s not as successful as Alice’s, who started hers at roughly the same time. Maybe you pulled several all-nighters studying for finals, and were happy with your B, but then found out Kim got an A and now your grade doesn’t seem worthy of celebrating. Maybe you have a blog, and get frustrated because it’s not growing as quickly as you’d like, even though you put in the time, money and extra effort. Maybe you eat healthy 90% of the time, exercise frequently, but still don’t feel like you look as good as the girls in the magazines you read. Maybe you’re single and feel like all of your friends are in relationships. Or, maybe you’re in a relationship and it feels like all of your friends are getting engaged.
No matter which industry you’re in, where your passions lie or what path you’re on, there will come a time when you compare where you’re at to where someone else is. It’s completely normal. Sometimes it can even be healthy. It might spark some new ideas or encourage you to work harder. But, when you begin to obsess over someone else’s success to the point where you feel down on yourself, that’s when the comparison game takes an ugly turn and can actually hinder your personal growth and well being.
When those thoughts creep in, the key is to acknowledge them, and then follow these tips:
DON’T COMPARE YOUR BEGINNING TO SOMEONE ELSE’S MIDDLE
My sister called me recently, and told me how frustrated she is because she “doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life” (I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been in this boat at some point). She told me how I seem to have everything figured out, and how I’m doing the things she wanted to do (blogging, planning a new little business venture, etc.). That’s when I stopped her. It made me laugh because a) I don’t have anything together and b) if she only knew where I was at when I was 20. I’m five years older than her, so I’ve had a little more time for trial and error.
And then it hit me. There have been times when I’ve compared myself to other bloggers and felt like I was so far behind. But, I was looking at everything through a skewed lens. I was comparing myself to girls who have been in the blogging game for five years or more, when I’ve been in it for two. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, just remember, the people you look up to were once in the same spot as you. You’re exactly where you need to be at this moment.
TAKE A BREAK FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Lately, I’ve been carrying my phone with me less and less. Next time you find yourself in a deep, dark Instagram hole, try and put your phone away for at least an hour. Taking a break helps you focus on the present, your friends, family, significant other — the stuff that matters! And remember: you are not defined by your social media stats.
TURN NEGATIVE THOUGHTS INTO PRODUCTIVE AND BENEFICIAL ONES
If you start to feel down on yourself, try and approach your thoughts through a different perspective. Instead of thinking, “look what she has that I don’t have,” think of the ways she’s inspiring you to try the new restaurant you’ve been wanting to go to, or to take that road trip you’ve been thinking about for months. And, if there’s someone you know who’s doing great things, reach out to her to schedule a coffee or lunch date. You can learn so much from others in your industry. And, it might surprise you to learn they had their own struggles along the way, too.
WORK HARD AND HAVE FAITH THAT YOUR TIME WILL COME
Keep your eye on your goals, and work hard to achieve them. If you have a passion for something, you have the ability to make it your own. No one else can do you better than you can!
What are your thoughts on the comparison game? Are there any pieces of advice you follow to help you through it?
Feature image via Issy Croker for The Magic Elephant