As I flipped open the crisp and unmarked pages of my writing journal, hit “play” on my trusty Jim Brickman playlist on Spotify, and flicked on the lighter for my caramel cabernet scented candle I thought to myself, “Okay, Anna. Time to make some magic happen.”
I had one of those movie moments where I clapped my hands together, rubbed them in a circle for a few seconds to warm them up, stretched out my fingers for a spell, and then grabbed my favorite pink pen. I then proceed to write for a few hours.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this: All of the writing I did that day? Garbage. Just trash. I wouldn’t share it with my worst enemy.
Every time I would get close to fleshing out an idea my head would jump to the problems that were worrying my mind that week instead. I had so many half-thoughts and half-ideas and my brain just wouldn’t settle down. After I felt like I was just wasting my own time, I decided to do something that most of us do when we are wanting a small touch of inspiration, I pulled up the Internet. Specifically, I pulled up Pinterest.
“Top 10 Blog Post Ideas for the Lifestyle Blogger” is what I landed on. I read through each idea and gave them a few minutes of thought before I went on to the next article. And then the next. And the next…Well, you get the point. Almost an entire evening passed by of this cycle. I remember looking at the clock and calculating how many hours I had left of sleep before work the next day. I closed my notebook, brow furrowed and defeated, and decided to go to bed and try again the next day when I felt more recharged.
The next day I wrote out a post, but it still wasn’t something that I felt good about sharing. That’s when I decided to put the writing down and take an actual break altogether. So, I grabbed my newest read, a book called “Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur.” I am just loving this book so far and keep looking forward to the pockets of time where I get to read it. The woman that wrote it started off by blogging and now she has built up her own successful life by writing books, running a podcast, and becoming a life coach. She is also all about helping other women along the way and I think that’s wonderful.
So here I am, right? Trying to get my mind off of certain problems and writing and then BAM she hits me with this truth bomb:
We live in a world where you can literally spend an entire day in Comparisonville. You can log on to Facebook or Instagram with your morning coffee and enter a vortex where suddenly it’s 8:00p.m. and you are knee-deep in a stranger’s vacation photos from 2010. It’s a weird, wacky place, and it sets the stage for nonstop comparison every single day. The problem is, when we start looking around at others, we strip away our own brilliance, creativity, and drive.by Cara Alwill Leyba from “Girl Code”
And this quote really got me thinking. All of that time spent on Pinterest looking for the perfect idea was time spent not developing my very own ideas. All of that time spent on others writings and pictures gave me less time to think about the things that got me to a place of feeling good about what I was going to post. I would look at someone else’s work and wish I was better at writing, or drawing, or taking pictures, etc. If I could just go to ___insert fun travel place here__ and write about that I’d for sure be successful. That’s doesn’t sound like self-talk that is conducive to growth, does it? It’s really not. But it’s so easy to fall into.
I always repeat to myself that famous quote “Comparison is the thief of joy,” because I find that to be very true in many different circumstances. I could probably do an entire post/book on the very subject itself. But I had not really considered that comparison is also the thief of authenticity. It’s the thief of creativity. AND it’s the thief of growth.
Several times this week I had to remind myself to put down the phone and really give myself some time and space alone to really flourish. Time to think. Time to create from the things I pull out of myself. Those are the things that I learn from the most. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that I can see something wonderful someone created and be moved by it, and can also draw inspiration from it, but that wasn’t the case in this instance.
I’ve said this before, but one of my missions with this blog is to be vulnerable and authentic. I want you guys to read this and be like, “Yep, that’s Anna’s voice.” My own. I receive the most messages after I talk about the things that are hardest to talk about for me. We all want to feel less alone in this journey of life and relate to each other where we can.
I will admit though, between you and I, hitting the “Publish” button for some of these blog posts makes my heart race. And usually it races until I get that first “like” or comment. It’s especially nerve-wracking writing about things that feel so personal, but I know it’s those moments that make me who I am and those are the moments where we can connect with one another most.
This past week a friend told me that my blog post, “Failure” was something that he could relate to, specifically the fear of failure. He then told me about an unimaginable tragedy that he went through and how writing helped him. I had said to him that when I was going through my tough times (which seemed like nothing compared to what he went through) I had a very hard time writing down my thoughts. Writing and I grew a bit distant.
“Can you do me a favor?” he asked. When I said yes he replied:
“Earlier you said your hardest times doesn’t compare to mine. I don’t believe that to be true. Your hard times and my hard times led us to feel the same emotions in some kind of way. Which is why we’re able to relate in some aspects. The favor I need from you is to not compare what I went through as worse than yours because at the end of the day, we both had to fight. We both had to climb out of something to see the light again. And we both need a little empathy here and there.”
Here is someone who lived through the unthinkable and he was telling me to not compare my fight to his. And he was very right. I appreciate him saying this to me. I never realized that comparison could also be a thief of understanding and of caring self-talk. This moment truly touched me and this is why I’m sharing this with you all now. There might be someone out there reading this that needs to hear this as well.
I was one tall beer in when my best friend, Kellie, and I got to talking about comparison over dinner this week. She told me about a picture she saw online where there are two dogs. One was a big dog with mud up to his paws and next to him was a tiny dog with mud halfway up his body. The caption read, “How deep was that mud puddle? It depends who you ask.”
There are times in life where we feel like we don’t measure up, but that’s because we put our struggle and our thoughts next to someone else’s. We compare ourselves all of the time to others, intentionally or not, conscious or not, and it never serves us well. Your mud puddle might look the same as someone else’s but affect you in a completely different way.
Mindfulness. I feel like this is the antidote for comparison. We could all use some time to ourselves to create an environment for personal growth. We could all use a reminder that our journey isn’t the same as everyone else’s and that maybe we shouldn’t be so dang hard on ourselves.
So, my challenge to myself and to those of you that read this and felt like you could relate to it: Let’s turn off our phones for a beat. Light a candle. Get out a notepad. Or blank page. Or a camera. Take a bath. Go for a walk. Go to a coffee shop. Anything to get a moment to feel at peace. And let’s just go easy on ourselves. The world is hard enough as it is and we all could use a little extra kindness and empathy.
Does anyone else feel like comparison keeps cropping up for them? I wanna hear about it. I hope this finds you well and I hope you are all ready for a new week!! Thanks for sticking around with me <3