Comparison Trap

As some one who eats lunch at her desk nearly every day, I love it when I have the chance to get out of the office for a bit an enjoy a fun lunch date.

Since today was one of the every other Fridays that Ryan has off from work, he met me at my office for a mid-day date!

Date!

I talked him into checking out Ritazza, a café located downtown that serves everything from sandwiches to soup to salads to Mexican food! (I’ve been there a few times and love their salad bar.)

I ordered a salad topped with lots of veggies and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but Ryan said he couldn’t get Jimmy John’s out of his head (not that I blame him).

I toted my salad to Jimmy John’s so Ryan could order his favorite sandwich.

Salad To Go!

Salad Time!

I ate my whole salad and had a few bits of Ryan’s club.

After we were done with our main meal, we walked to Starbucks for some beverages.

Though I really wanted a Frappuccino, I cannot help but classify that drink as a “sweet” and since I gave those up for Lent, I opted for an iced mint green tea instead.

Green Tea Fo' Me

I slurped it down in no time! Ryan and I laughed when he was finishing up his Frappuccino and got to the bottom where only the whipped cream remained. That’s when I usually swoop in a eat it all.

It was hard to watch him eat “my bites.” He literally opened up the cup to dump the remaining whipped cream into his mouth which I told him was all wrong. You have to slowly scoop it out with a straw so it lasts longer and you can really enjoy it! C’mon!

All in all, it was a great lil’ lunch! I love hot dates in the middle of the day.

And now onto some serious talk.

The other day a wonderful reader asked me to discuss how I handle comparing myself with other women. I think it’s something we all struggle with and her inquiry inspired me to write up this post…

The Comparison Trap

As a woman, it is so, so hard not to compare ourselves with other women. With friends, family members, coworkers, the teeny girl in spandex at the gym. Amazingly talented and incredibly beautiful women are everywhere.

But guess what? You’re one of them.

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to the Sunday service at our church. Our pastor said something that resonated with me and I found it very applicable to women everywhere.

“When we romanticize the situations of others, we will never be satisfied with what we have.”

That quote is one of the reasons I wrote the “We’re Not Perfect” post about me and Ryan.

As a woman who is fully immersed in the world of blogging, I read blogs and have found myself romanticizing the situations of others many times. I’ve caught myself believing that certain bloggers lead perfect lives. They can run marathons. They have a perfect marriage. They have an amazing job. Their house is always spotless. They eat healthy, veggie-packed meals without lapse.

The thing about blogging is that you only see what people put out there for you to see. The same is true with people in your day-to-day life. You only know what they tell you about their lives, marriages, jobs and successes.

If all you ever read and all you ever hear is how wonderful things are for those around you, you may struggle with comparing your life to theirs. You may feel resentful, inadequate and unfulfilled.

Here’s the thing: Their lives aren’t perfect either.

You only think they are because you’re romanticizing their situation. Sure, they may be completely happy. They may have a wonderful and supportive husband. But they may also have a lot of debt that they’re struggling to pay off. They may have a family member battling cancer. You just don’t know.

Aside from simply envying the lives of others, it’s so easy to feel jealousy over the appearance of others. How many times have you left the house feeling confident only to have a girl walk by you on the street who made you feel like an instant troll?

Trolls Aren't So Bad!

Avoiding the comparison trap is a challenge. It’s a battle so many women struggle with every day. I wish my hair was as thick as hers. If only I lost some weight, I might look as amazing as she does in those jeans.

Well, you’re not her. You’re you. But that’s amazing.

Maybe she is lusting after your amazing smile. Maybe she would love to have your bubbly personality or your drive in the workplace.

I 100 percent admit that I struggle with the comparison trap. I might feel perfectly okay about myself as I head out on a date with Ryan. Then this freakin’ beautiful girl and her boyfriend walk into the restaurant and sit near us and I feel instantly self conscious. Why? I’m pretty cool, too! Why do I suddenly feel insecure?

So how do we overcome this? How do we feel okay with just being ourselves?

Know this: Being you is pretty darn fantastic.

I try to remind myself that comparing my looks, intelligence, job, successes, failures and love life to others doesn’t change anything. If I am feeling insecure about one aspect of my life, it is up to me to change it. Additionally, if my insecurities are completely unfounded, it is up to me to work on me and my love for myself. It is up to me to try to remember that I am my own person. I will never be someone else, which is a very, very good thing.

Questions of the Afternoon

  • Do you struggle with the comparison trap?
  • How do you try to overcome it?

Of Possible Interest

Comments

  1. says

    This was an absolutely amazing post and something that I really needed to hear right now. (Isn’t it funny how you always seem to find helpful advice at exactly the right time?) It’s hard to stop comparing yourself, but when you stop and think about how unique you are and what a blessing it is to have the life that you’re living, it always seems a lot easier to just be happy with what you have. :)

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  2. Lauren says

    That was a really nice post you wrote! On a totally different note, however…. have you ever tried the green tea lemonade from starbucks?? Its SO GOOD

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  3. says

    I remember a study in a psychology class in undergrad that found that the prettier the girl, the more concerned with and focused on attractiveness she is. The reason was that the more attractive you are, the more attention you get directed towards your beauty, and therefore the more important you perceive beauty to be so you become more concerned about it! If girls were getting attention for being smart, however, they might start thinking that being smart is most important. It all depends on your perspective. I thought it was pretty interesting!

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  4. HP says

    Julie, thanks so much for touching on this topic! And so quickly after I mentioned it! (: just as I suspected your outlook on this topic is amazing. So honest too, which is refreshing! It looks like many others will benefit from this post too.
    My fave way to remind myself to stay out of “the trap” is to say, “just do you!” because really, thats what we all do best. (:
    Thanks again!

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  5. says

    I use to weigh almost 100 pounds more than I do now and I was one of those silly people that thought that losing the weight would magically make me more okay with my body. If anything I compare myself to other women more now!

    But I have to remember that people who make snide comments don’t know where I have come from. And people who do know, are just rude people I do not need in my life.

    Being me is the best I can be!

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  6. says

    amazing post woman! I think we all tend to think that way at times. Knowing that God created us just as we are can bring such peace. Confidence in HIM! Of course I struggle with that, but when I really get to know bloggers and their hearts, I can see that there are imperfections, and thats why I love them even more. They are real, they are human. Those things bring us together as community, to encourage one another!
    Okay, done rambling. Just really inspired by these words. Thanks friend.
    LC

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  7. rc says

    hi :D just found your blog (via fitnessista !) aaand, i <3 it.
    you know to tell you the truth, i was looking through your blog WITH this very thought, that you look amazing and gorgeous and E-T-C, actually comparing myself… then, i read this. and yep ! :D thanks so much for this.

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  8. says

    I skimmed this post yesterday afternoon bust just came back now to read the entire thing. I used to struggle terribly with this! I’ve come a long way in the past few years by learning appreciate what I do have, and not lusting after what others have. The truth is, for most of us, things could be so much worse. It sounds silly, but I value being alive in general!

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  9. samantha says

    I just want to thank you for this post, I find myself doing this all the time and really hate it. I realize it is normal but your post really puts it in perspective for me. Your are so right that by doing this it won’t change anything, in fact it harms my relationships with those I love. I dont deserve to put myself down like that. I realize that I have to work on treating myself better. I should be proud of who I am and the things I have accomplished in life!

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  10. says

    Thank you for this post. I just found you through Skinny Runner and I am in love with your blog. This post sealed it for me in following. I often times will do this and your preacher put it perfectly and you elaborated on it so well. Just wanted to say thank you and you’ve got another loyal follower/reader! ox

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  11. says

    I love this post!

    When in the “comparison trap”, I try to think about things that make me unique, special and fun to be around! For example, I have a ridiculous sense of humor.

    Also, perfection is subjective. I had beer and pizza on a date this week and my date’s eyes lit up! He thought that my eating “junk food” with him was the best thing ever! Rather than feeling self concious about eating junk food on a date, I just went with it and had a great time!

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  12. says

    A little late to the party but thanks so much for this! As a pretty new blogger, I’m struggling with comparing myself and my blog to the many successful and fabulous bloggers, like yourself. Sometimes it’s really necessary to step back and be satisfied with who you are and what you have, but know that there is always room for improvement. Though it may seem like the grass is greener on the other side, it’s important to realize that instead of trying to be someone else, just be the best person you can be, and live the best life you can.
    Thank you for giving me a little perspective today :)

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  13. says

    Julie,
    I loved reading this post so much – I was actually in the middle of writing a very similar post (but more about comparisons between runners) when I came across this post, and I just wanted to say that I think your blog sends such an important, positive message. You are so honest and express your thoughts so clearly. I love reading your posts.
    I ended up publishing my post tonight (http://runnerscookie.com/the-running-comparison-trap/), hoping that I could send a similar message that you did. Thanks again for your inspiration :)
    -Corey

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  14. says

    Julie,

    It’s clearly already been emphasized before me, but this blog post is fantastic. You have an amazing voice in your writing and your genuineness and light really shine through. Thank you for sharing such an important message, I’m going to pass this on. I too, struggle with the comparison trap more often then people in my life really probably understand. Thank you for speaking truth to power :)

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  15. 20 year old UF says

    Just started reading your blog today because of a friend. this one caught my eye. Just what i needed today. Perfect. Thank you!

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  16. says

    Thank you for this post, Julie! I’ve been thinking about this a LOT lately, and find myself comparing myself to others on a regular basis. It is so important for us all to tell ourselves the truth- that we are exactly who/how we are supposed to be. Love this post!!

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