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What To Do When You're Drowning In Comparison

What To Do When You’re Drowning In Comparison

Friendship

Have you ever been hit square in the face with comparison?


You’re walking along thorough life, feeling pretty confident in your own skin. You feel good enough, tall enough, strong enough, successful enough, small enough, like you’re in just the right place and stage of life, and then it happens… WHAM! Comparison.


Almost as if you’re being smacked with a 2×4, you see someone who has something you want but don’t have, or something you didn’t realize you wanted that bad, or someone who is all the things you feel like you can never be.


Sometimes it happens with us physically. You are feeling fine in your skin, beautiful even, and then you see someone who knocks your own beauty right out of the park leaving you feeling small, hideous and stupid for ever thinking you were good enough.


Or maybe it happens with relationships. You’re doing fine being single, feeling good even, and then your phone buzzes with a photo from your last single friend — and it’s a photo of her and her boyfriend, snuggled together, tears in their eyes as she holds up her hand that’s sporting a sparkling diamond. You were doing fine, but now it feels like you’ve come down with the comparison equivalent of food poisoning — sudden, strong, and totally debilitating. Why her? Why not me? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I have her life? Why can’t I be more like her?

When Comparison Struck…HARD


There was a time no too long ago when I came down with comparison food poisoning, and if I’m honest I had a hard time shaking it.


I was in a van in Georgia, having just been picked up for an event I was speaking at. It was a sorority event, and three of the women who organized it came to pick me up at the airport. They even brought a sign — hot pink and huge — “Lipstick Gospel Lands Here!”


I was thrilled to be there, over-the-moon about getting to spend a full day with the most amazing group of sorority girls, I was so honored that they’d invited me.


And as we were driving back to their school, we started talking about blogging.


One of them asked me, “I want to share my story. I really do. But it feels like everyone else is already doing what I want to do. It feels like the space is so crowded, like it’s already being done. I want to share my story, but it feels like the world doesn’t need it, it’s already being done by somebody else and being done better. How do you get over this?”


I’m well acquainted with this question, and I had an answer all ready to go.


I said, “Listen, other people may be sharing similar stories, or teaching similar things, but they don’t have your story, or your way of sharing it. And the story you have, and the exact way you will share it will resonate with a group of girls that might not resonate with her. And even if they resonate with both of you, there’s still not too much goodness or encouragement in the world. I think we can officially call the market saturated when every single person in the world knows Jesus, and knows themselves, and loves themselves, and knows how much they’re worth. But until that happens, the world needs your voice. So you have to keep sharing it!”


It’s my favorite answer to give, and one I believe in wholeheartedly. It’s something I think about all the time in moments when it feels like my voice may not matter, like my message is already being heard.


But then… completely out of the blue… comparison struck.


One of the sweet, amazing girls mentioned another blogger, mentioned how much this other girl’s blog has impacted her life, talked about how much their whole sorority loves this other girl, and that was it.


It was sudden, and violent, like food-poisoning always is.


I was totally overcome with comparison.


Now listen, I totally know the truth here, I had just shared the truth. Right? I love this other blogger, I love her work, she’s truly amazing! And on most days, I am the biggest fan of other women doing anything — even if what we’re doing is similar.


But for some reason, in that moment, on that day, none of that mattered. The truth I knew, the truth I usually know couldn’t stop comparison from coming in and almost knocking me out. My face grew hot, my hands were clammy, my insides were immediately in a knot.

Comparison is The Thief of Joy


All of a sudden I couldn’t think of anything except for how not good enough I am. I couldn’t think of anything but how far behind I suddenly felt. I couldn’t think of anything except for the fact that the place I thought I occupied in the world was totally occupied by somebody else, and that somebody else was doing it better, and I would never, ever catch up.


So at this point, I have to tell you that it’s a little embarrassing to admit this. It really is.


Especially because I know the wonderful girls in that car are going to know what I’m talking about, who I’m talking about, it’s really humbling to open the curtains and let people peek into the broken thoughts that sometimes fill our heads.


But this happens sometimes. Doesn’t it? It happens to me, and it happens to you, and it was happening to them. It happens in all areas of our lives — our love lives, our weight, our appearance, our careers.


Comparison is this nasty disease that plagues us as women, and I think the first step to curing something is admitting it’s there in the first place. 


So now would be the moment when I tell you three simple steps to beating comparison, and three more to preventing it from ever coming back again. But I don’t have those for you today. I don’t have them for me today.


This happened years ago, and I’m still wrestling feelings of not being good enough, of falling behind, wrestling the impulse to strive to catch up, or check into what everyone else is doing and trying to compete.


And so while it feels totally crazy to leave a blog post without a bow on top, here’s what I want to say:


If you struggle with comparison sometimes, you’re not alone. I do too. Sometimes I have a handle on it, and sometimes — like today — I totally, completely don’t.


But here’s what I also know: Comparison is the thief of joy. It really, really is.


We get nowhere when we compare ourselves to each other, we just lose the ability to proudly, confidently be us — contributing to the world in a way that is totally our own, in a way nobody can steal, or diminish.


So we can’t succumb to comparison. It happens, absolutely, but we have to fight it.

Fighting Comparison


We have to fight it by admitting it to the people we love, opening up the windows to the broken parts of our heart, letting people in to help us figure it out.


We have to fight it by repeating the truth to ourselves — that God loves us, that He created us with a purpose, that the way God created us is absolutely good enough, and that God’s economy works differently than ours — there’s more than enough to go around. 


And, as we fight it, we have to keep going in what we know God is calling us to do. We have to keep singing our song, preaching the Word, sharing our story, being beautifully and strongly us.


Even with comparison RAGING in my heart that weekend, I still had to get up on stage and share the story God has written on my life. I had to do it even though my insides felt so sick, even though I felt so entirely not good enough, and you know what? God still used it.


He’s so faithful like that.


He has a place in the world for you, and for me. He has a story for you, and for me. He has gifts for you and for me. He has a plan for my life and for your life, and nobody can take those things away. 


So sweet friend, here’s to fighting comparison with everything we have, and to singing our song anyway, as we practice believing that how God created us is good enough, and that there’s more than enough goodness to go around.


Has comparison been a struggle in your life lately? If so, I have a podcast episode I would love to share with you. It’s called “How To Keep Comparison From Stealing Your Joy” and in the episode I’m actually chatting with the blogger I just told you about — the one I was comparing myself to! In the episode I actually tell her about this day, and how I was comparing myself to her, and to my total shock, she admitted that she compares herself to me too! It was such a healing, wonderful conversation. I can’t wait to share it with you. Click here to listen!


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Add a Comment
  1. Kym says:

    Darling Stephanie….no matter who the “other woman” is (hee hee), and even if I read 10 other blogs on a regular basis (which I do not…), MY world would be so much less encouraged and so much less lovely and so much less pink (!) without YOU! YOU fill up a space in my life that nobody else could, nor do I want them to. You feel like a trusted friend (who cannot just be “replaced” by somebody else! “Joined” by someone else maybe, but not replaced!) and someone I fight comparing myself to! lol! It’s all in your perspective….

    So, be wonderful YOU, and never forget that this is a BIG world (even though the internet makes it seem small), and there is room enough for all of us.

  2. Kylie Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing! Your blogs truly speak to me and are struggles that I have to overcome daily with the Lord. For my story, I always compared myself to my friends who were in a relationship with someone they met. I always thought “what is wrong with me, and when will my time be?” It was frustrating and I kept asking the Lord for this specific guy to have a crush on me (of course that was ridiculous, but I was desperate). One weekend I started cleaning out my drawer and found the book Redeeming Love that my roommate had given to me sophomore year. It was amazing that Hosea could love this prostitute even through her sinful past of guilt and same. It inspired me to stop looking and seek the Lord in this area of my life. I started praying January 1st for the Lord to send me someone like Hosea. I wanted all these qualities and for him to put Jesus first before me. Long story short, I prayed every single day for five months for someone. It turns out God answered my prayer the day after graduation when I met my boyfriend at the San Diego airport. We went on a coffee date there and never stopped talking. It is crazy how His timing is worth it even though in college I was jealous of my friends and their “perfect” relationship. Ps: It would be so cool to see you here in Nashville at coffee shop! You are an amazing writer and I enjoy reading your posts each week! Thank you and keep it up!

  3. KaTie Bulmer says:

    AHHHHH Stephanie this is so perfect. “I think we can officially call the market saturated when every single person in the world knows Jesus, and knows themselves, and loves themselves, and knows how much they’re worth. But until that happens, the world needs your voice. So you have to keep sharing it!”

    YES I love this encouragement to keep writing and for all of us in the (incredibly cool) minivan that day and the rest of the world
    HUGS HUG HUGS

  4. Susie Crosby says:

    Stephanie,
    I found your blog because one of my younger friends introduced me to it as her favorite. She is helping me prepare to launch a website/blog this spring or summer. I am currently working to publish a devotional book for young women in college, and I believe that a blog is my next step. It is so funny that you wrote this piece about comparison because after I saw your website, I started thinking that you already have the “perfect” one! I became convinced that mine would not even come close. I have been a doubting my writing, my ability to keep up a blog, and all kinds of things since. I haven’t even looked at yours for quite a while, but for some reason I was drawn to it tonight. Now I know why. I truly appreciate how honest, real, and vulnerable you are in this post. Thank you for reminding me that we each have a unique calling from God and that we are not in competition. I love that “God’s economy” is not the same as ours. Thank you for listening to Him and writing this blog. I absolutely love what you are doing! Blessings to you Stephanie!

  5. Rachael Beaudin says:

    Stephanie,

    I recently came across your blog and read your book, and have been SO encouraged by all of it!
    THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR TESTIMONY, YOUR THOUGHTS, AND YOUR LIFE WITH ME, AND SO MANY OTHERS!

    I AM A 31 YEAR OLD, SINGLE CHRISTIAN GAL FROM BOISE IDAHO. I WAS RAISED IN A CHRISTIAN HOME, WITH PARENTS IN FULL TIME MINISTRY.
    I GREW UP KNOWING JESUS AS MY SAVIOR, AND HAVE FOUND THE CHRISTIAN LIFE TO BE THE HARDEST AND MOST REWARDING ADVENTURE OUT THERE.

    In your own words, i too have been a girl, “with a plan but have never got to where i was going, not because i got lost, but because i got rerouted.”

    Life for me has not turned out like i would have imagined or dreamed it to be (instead of a dream, my life has been more like a fairy tale gone nightmare). It’s been a series of disappointments, heart breaks, and shattered dreams one after the next.

    Although i am well into my adult years, i feel i am only just beginning in some ways.

    It hit me when you said, ”sometimes we want to embark on a journey but are afraid to leave one shore. we set sail but stay tied to the dock, leaving us stuck halfway between one dock and the new life we want.” (your words here pretty much summarize the majority of my christian walk).

    It seems i grew up always attending, but rarely surrendering.
    i learned that i could “get by”, and “look the part”, while trying my hardest to fit in (which is what always mattered the most to me). but no matter how hard i tried, i never felt like i fit in, anywhere. not at church, or in the world. so although i’ve grown up in the church, i’ve lived in the place of trying to do both, as well.

    After more heart aches and disappointments than i could have ever imagined happening in my 20’s (even if someone had told me so), i feel i am slowly coming to realize that it truly is worth it to trust God to do something in/through my life that “i would not believe, even if i was told so.”

    YOUR BOOK AND BLOG ARE INSPIRING ME TO CONSIDER STARTING MY OWN! I’VE LOOKED A LITTLE INTO WRITING A BOOK BEFORE, BUT NEVER CONSIDERED A BLOG, AND AM WONDERING IF YOU’D BE WILLING TO SHARE A LITTLE WITH ME ON HOW I’D even GET STARTED??!

  6. Gabriella says:

    Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for writing this post!! It was amazing and I only wish I had had this blog to turn to months ago. I suffered from food poisoning comparison; this was the first time I ever felt like this and I found myself comparing myself to an acquaintance. This acquaintance I thought was “me” but a better version–we have the same personalities, goals, etc. She was literally my personality, had my goals, except she was SO much better–a much better student (school comes easy for her). The “blow” came when she was accepted to school, the same type of school I wanted to go to and it is an amazing, well known school. I’d see all her posts and pics on FB. I was not accepted to any and for months I’d battle feeling inadequate, inferior, comparing myself. It never affected how I treated her (she honestly has no idea I ever felt this) but every time I’d think I’d move past it I’d see some pic or status at school and I’d go into comparison mode again. The feeling literally feels like bad food poisoning and it makes you question everything. I felt that I had no one to turn to to talk about this.
    Well this is what I needed and I wanted to thank you so much for writing this! I am past comparing against her but the journey of getting to this place was very tumultuous, and lonely and I only wish I had this piece to turn to! It would have made this journey shorter and would have made me feel more comforted and less alone. I now know God has an amazing plan for my life that is unique, and I never think about this acquaintance in the same way, but the sting took long to get rid of–this whole getting over process took almost a full year (embarrassing I know).
    Anyways, never stop what you’re doing you have an amazing gift and you are one of a kind! You’re like the big sis I never had and instead of saying things like “get over it”, “you’re dumb for feeling this way” like a lot of people have told me, you are gentle and totally understand where I’m coming from. Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3

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