The comparison Game
I hate to admit this, but I’m going to be really honest with all of you. My hope is that if you’re a woman, you’ll be honest with yourself and take a look at this comparison game, and if you’re a man, you can understand what women go through. So here it goes…
I have always had a problem with comparison, especially when it comes to other women. I think for all women, very early on, we are overwhelmed with images of specific beauty, perfection, and originality. We grow up knowing that women are pitted against each other and are led to believe that someone else’s success means our failure.
I’ll admit it.
My own insecurities have played into this way of thinking. I have allowed myself to feel less than, let my flaws dictate how I see my imperfections, and compare myself to others. I get caught in my mind questioning why I deserve to get freelance work, wondering if my Instagram aesthetic will ever be of envy, or even, should I be able to charge as much as I do for figure skating coaching.
I’m not quite sure where it started, but I know that social media hasn’t made it any easier.
Now-a-days, the digital world offers an enormous amount of access to amazing women on a daily basis. Over the last few years, new resources and platforms have become available for women to support each other. Women on Instagram have joined together to create community rather than competition. It has cultivated an environment where we should be celebrating this movement. And I am! But even as I recognize this, I still feel this unsettling feeling like what I’m doing will never be at that standard.
I look at other freelancers websites and doubt if I’ll ever make it there. Looking at others for inspiration can quickly turn into a rabbit hole of melancholy and self-disgust if I’m not in the right mindset. I browse these other women sites and profiles and think I should be more beautiful, more talented, have a better body, post better pictures, do more, go further, the list goes on.
And, if we lack confidence in our talent to reach our goals, we are often quicker to give into this nasty pressure of competitive nature. And what do women immediately go for to compensate for someone succeeding? They start to judge one another on their fashion choices, sexual activity, physical appearance, and other things women get nervous about. Therefore, the idea (and reality) has come about that women cannot work together without being judgmental and jealous of each other because of one another’s successes.
“What if we said: “She’s beautiful but so am I,” instead of, “She’s beautiful and how do I measure up to her?”
How often do you have a truly genuine friendship with someone that enjoys going after the same things as you do, and not felt like you wanted to be better than them (or vice versa), whether that regards success, attention, or beauty? I’m talking about a friendship that even when you’re alone in your room at night, inside the pit of your core, you still want that person to succeed, even if that means surpassing you?
I can gratefully say, I have some of these now, but I have gone through others in the past that have appeared the same, but in reality are not.
Girls, ever ask a friend which outfit you should wear going out and realize later that what they picked out for you was the less flattering option? Is it really that important that we outshine each other?
Why do we do this? These moments are petty. In the past, I have been both people in that situation and I am not proud of it. Hoping another person looks less beautiful than you or puts forward a project with faults, doesn’t actually make you succeed. As the person feeding this negative energy, you’re actually giving the other an opportunity to overcome.
Throughout the latter part of my figure skating career and into college, I have started to acknowledge these feelings. And recently, I started to really analyze them in a different way.
So here it is, blunt and honest. I’m afraid of being irrelevant and not succeeding in the standards I set for myself. And yet, thinking in this way of women versus women, is putting me in a place where I am weighing myself down. I am afraid of not growing, but I’m putting myself into this box in which I cannot grow out of.
For me, recognition was the first step. Now, putting this out there, is the next. The challenge is not to be better than another person or reach their level. Rather, it is about putting yourself out there with honest intentions because you feel compelled to do so. It’s not so easy to snap out of years of thinking in a certain way. We have it ingrained in our brains from so young that we need to compete against other women, all the while honestly trying to support them.
So how do we support other women without feeling like we’re less than them? I am still searching for the answers, but here’s a few that I’ve found that help keep me in check.
No. 1: Talk through your insecurities with people you trust
It’s understandable if you don’t want to expose your insecurities to the world, that’s not what I am telling you to do. Just remember, that everyone has them. Your insecurities shouldn’t make you ashamed. No one is confident 100% of the time. No one has a spectacular day everyday of the year. Remember that Instagram is a highlight of our life. I’m going to repeat that, a highlight of our life. If you’re feeling insecure, don’t keep it bottled up. You don’t have to put it on a platform, but just talk to someone you can trust. Having this outside perception to your feelings can really help you snap back into perspective.
No. 2: Look at where you came from
There’s no better feeling than looking at past work and seeing how far you’ve come. Most likely, you were proud of your work at that time. Whether you are still proud of your past work or not, it shows progression and pride in the journey, not the success. Be proud of your journey.
No. 3: Unplug yourself when inspiration turns into self sabotage
This one is crucial, especially in this day and age. With technology at our fingertips, its extremely easy to go from outfit inspiration to feeling like we’ll never be good enough. The switch can be instant. It’s great to look at others for inspiration, just watch those thoughts that pop into your head that make you feel inadequate. If you feel yourself start to think “I could never do that,””I’ll never be that beautiful”, “Why cant I do that?” Those questions are not conducive to productivity. When you feel these coming on, stop and do something else completely unrelated.
No. 4: Engage with platforms and communities
As I am just beginning my blogging career (if you can even call it that), I realize that putting work out is extremely difficult. Exposing your work and intimate thoughts on a place where so many people can comment and formulate opinions on you is outright terrifying. Even if there are no comments, its hard to know if your work is good or bad and thats just as intimidating. But, as scary as it is, feedback from the community is essential in bettering yourself and your work. Take it one step at a time when you begin to share, and slowly engage with these communities. Stepping outside your comfort zone is the only way you’ll build yourself to success.
No. 5: Not everyone will love and support you
Not everyone will love and support you. I needed to write that again to really nail it into your brains (and my own). The other day, I decided to download an Instagram followers tracker to see what new traction I was gaining since I started promoting my work. I began optimizing my tags and hashtags and sprung up with over 100 new followers in one week. I gained many, and then lost a few. This repeated, so I wanted to see how to keep them around.
What I expected to find were random accounts of other bloggers and companies that I didn’t end up following back. I saw some of those, but that was not the majority. I had over 100 people that I actually knew in the real world, unfollow me. These are people that I would see on the street and start a conversation with, that unfollowed what I was doing. I’d like to believe it was a coincidence that it happened at this time, but I really don’t think so.
I’ve heard from others trying to grow their following that people become annoyed by their posts of self-promotion. I tried to be cautious of this, but I wasn’t aware that my story postings, few extra hashtags, and my “link in bio” additions to my posts were really pushing them over the edge. I understand people should only follow what they want to see, but these people know me as a real person and I hoped they would want to support me in my what I choose to do.
Needless to say, I was really affected by this. But what I was more upset about was how discouraged I got over how others reacted to my own work. I didn’t write anything for a few days, and when I finally posted something, I dialed it back. I had finally started to post more, and then I was doubting myself even more. I let what others think of me dictate what I was going to do.
Well, I finally snapped out of it and began posting again, but it wasn’t easy. Being so vulnerable in exposing your work and yourself to others and have it be rejected, especially by people you know isn’t the greatest feeling. But what I learned, is that everyone won’t like and support what you do, even if they know you. It’s a matter of how you handle this rejection and bounce back.
I’m still here posting aren’t I? And, today I just signed my first paid gig – so there’s a little encouragement for you (and me)! And if you’re one of those people that unfollwed me and now you’re seeing this, thank you for helping me realize that everyone won’t like what I do, and I have to be okay with that.
No. 6: Celebrate the victories
Something that is taking constant dedication is hard work. If it makes you uncomfortable, it’s worth it. There will be many times that you’re struggling and fighting for your success, so when you have those little moments, celebrate them. And, if you see someone else you know have a personal win, encourage and congratulate them because you know how hard it is to keep striving through the setbacks. And, don’t forget it all comes back around!
I really, truly hope you’ve found this helpful. I know its a bit unpolished and more so a long rambling post of my personal experiences than anything else. Hopefully these can help you identify your insecurities with other women and push you towards supporting other women’s success, while still loving your own.