THE COMPARISON TRAP

  A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.

I've had a reoccurring discussion with various friends over and over again, and I want to bring the conversation here. I wrote a similar post last summer on how Comparison is the Thief of Joy, and I think I could use a yearly reminder on the dangers and reality of the comparison trap. I enjoy bringing this topic into discussion because it's something I'm passionate about, and I think it needs more airtime.

Not to generalize, but it seems like the issue of comparing is more of a trap for women than men. When I talk about this with my husband, he sympathizes, but he doesn't really get it. He wants me to do my own thing, for our family to do our own thing, and for us not to compare our lives to what anyone else is thinking, wearing, or accomplishing. He's totally comfortable in his own skin, one of the traits I love about him, while I am well aware of current trends, adopting a few of them into my wardrobe and home, and am completely happy waiting in long lines to sip an overpriced cocktail in the most crowded, happening neighborhoods while he prefers to go to the quieter, less known places.

At a dinner party for Darling Magazine recently this topic came up, how comparison is so easy to fall into. One of my friends mentioned how social media has played a big role in the increase of this, like how we are inundated with these beautiful photos constantly and everyone else seems to be having the most fabulous time of every single second of everyday, while we are stuck in traffic or cleaning our house or getting cavities filled. She mentioned, with the best intentions, that she actually knows some of those "famous" people on Instagram in real life, "like Allie," as she gestures to me, and continues to describe how she knows there is so much more to my life than what is represented online. We both looked at each other, almost stunned, and simultaneously laughed, realizing what she had just said in so many words. The secret, if there really was any, was out. I have a normal, messy, imperfect life, and I also happen to have a pretty Instagram. I go out for happy hour with my handsome husband often, and I've also experienced enormous seasons of loss and grief.

In response to my well-meaning friend I said, "If that is my story to tell, that you can have both a beautiful Instagram and an imperfect life, then I will gladly play that role." I think the world needs more of that voice. That while I can take a beautiful photo, some things in my life remain hurtful, challenging, and messy. Sometimes I want to caption my photos: VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE IS NOT THIS PERFECT. I want to continue to put out good content without fueling the fire of comparisonthat we can get so easily get caught up in.

In the same way that my entire life story is not on Instagram, neither is everyone else's. It's too easy to fall into the comparison trap on social media because the temptation is to compare your behind the scenes to someone else's styled shoot. We all have good things and hard things, unique strengths and weakness, moments of joy and moments of sadness. I hold all of these dichotomies in my life together, and yet my instagram is a carefully curated selection of moments, not representing some of the best, and most certainly not the worst.

I've heard that this topic only increases in intensity with having kids (not an announcement). I hope to develop good habits of contentment now without looking around for affirmation or approval. I never want to feel like I'm doing "worse" or "better" than someone else. I just want to do what's right for me and my family.