You wanna know something completely irrational and stupid I’ve been doing lately? Comparing myself to Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex.
Why, you might ask? Well,
We’re both mixed race,
We’re both performers/actresses
We both fell in love with British men, and
We’re both feminists.
Cuz, you know, that means we’re the same, right?
Before you think that my comparison is at all grandios, I’m not comparing myself to her in a good way… not in the, “I admire her and relate to her. Hope one day I can be a force for good like her”. It’s more of a, “She’s beautiful, successful, kind, and brave, and I’m not” kind of comparison.
Basically, all the things I admire about her are qualities I fear that I’m missing in myself. God, the number of diary entries I’ve written about it trying to get it out of my head… it’s SO unrealistic.
Now, here’s the thing… I really do admire Meghan and I think she’s a beacon of hope for women like me. Doesn’t matter what limitations society will try to put on you; you can throw ‘em the bird and rise above.
But I’m also terrified that I’ll never be as good as she is… like nothing I’ll ever do will be as good because I’m not the first mixed person to become British royalty, so I’ll always be a peg below.
Do you hear how crazy that sounds? It sounds nuts to me reading it, and it came from my fucking head!
Anyway, why do I make these comparisons between myself and a woman who is 12 years my senior and I’ve never met before?
It Comes Back to What We Value Socially
Mmkay, so this is kind of a personal theory… or maybe it’s something I read somewhere… but I think it comes back to the things we value in society: status, money, and STUFF. (‘Stuff’ here being the general word for expensive toys, clothes, houses… basically anything that shows off the money).
Oh, and physical appearance. If someone is beautiful, we put them on a pedestal. And the more stuff they adorn themselves in, the more we envy them and wish we could be like them.
Therein lay the danger, my friends.
When you’re obsessing over someone who, in your mind, has already arrived, you have no time to focus on your journey, your process. You’ll remain stuck because anytime you take a step, you’ll be comparing it to what they’re doing.
Comparison isn’t just a career killer, either. It kills relationships. We take pictures of our best moments and post them to social media for other people to admire. The only problem with this is that people tend to take our highlight reels and compare them to their entire lives…
… eek :/.
As much of a slave to comparison as I still am, this is why I share literally everything with you. Life is supposed to be imperfect and individual in its experiences. That’s what makes the good stuff so good.
Death By Comparison: How Comparisons Are Killing You
Comparison is a death sentence… to your life, your relationships, and your Self.
And yes, I mean to separate the two. The Self (capital S) is what you are at your core, not just your ego or your body.
I know it’s easier said than done, but we really have to stop comparing ourselves to each other. Now, how do I suggest we do this?
1: Awareness, Awareness, and More Awareness
If you find yourself making comparisons between yourself and someone outside of you, ask yourself what you have in common with them that makes you do this.
Like I said about Meghan Markle, I can identify with a lot of what she must have went through at my age because we’re both mixed. I can also identify with the fear of learning new customs and a new culture.
Now, recognize the disconnect.
The woman is 12 years older than me, already married, and has actually been in the spotlight much longer than her recent marriage. She was also a television actress, and I’m an operatic singer (sometimes songwriter). I like to act, but I’m not actively pursuing roles on television.
So already, our paths differ a lot. I need to find mine before I can even begin to think about being ‘at her level’.
So basically what I’m saying is: become more acquainted with the comparisons you make in your mind. When you’re on Instagram and pining after the status of a Kardashian, catch yourself. Or if you’re looking at a picture of a couple and wondering why you and your partner can’t be like that… you guessed it: catch yourself.
Start listing how you’re alike to figure out why your brain might be making the link. Then figure out the disconnect. Chances are you’ll start to recognize why you shouldn’t make comparisons between yourself and things outside of you.
2: Being Honest with Ourselves about Our Selves
While you’re comparing yourself to someone who looks like they have it all, ask yourself if you’d be willing to do what they did to get where they are?
Do you want to be doing what they’re doing? I mean, shoot, I compare myself to Tiffany from the Juggling The Jenkins blog – mainly because we’re both sweatpants-wearing lifestyle bloggers who can’t be bothered- but she’s like that because she has KIDS.
I ain’t ready for kids yet.
And I don’t think I’d want to build a blog around that anyway. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I probably will share about it when it happens, but I won’t be planning for it anytime soon.
Sooooo unless I wanna start popping out kids to create some buzz on my blog – which, ew… I hate when people have kids just for publicity – I should probably stop comparing myself to Tiffany.
Figure out what makes you tick at your core… especially if it scares you. Sometimes we deny our Selves because we’re afraid of how it might separate us from others. But that’s what makes us stand out; that’s what makes us great.
Which brings me to the next point…
3: Detaching Ourselves From Other People’s Expectations of Us
Along your journey, especially if you wanna start a business, you’re gonna run into people telling you what you “should” do or where you “should” be.
Some of that is ok… a little constructive criticism never hurt nobody.
But when it stops being constructive? That’s when you wanna start shutting it out. Solicited advice is one thing, but moulding yourself to someone else’s ideals is another.
No matter how many times you shift what you’re doing to encompass someone else’s suggestions, you’ll always have this aching part of your soul that needs to be acknowledged.
Start listening to your Self more, and take other people’s criticisms with a grain of salt.
4: Practicing Patience and Self Love
Finding your true Self is not a smooth journey. You’ll never be the same person twice in your life, and that’s ok. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Sure, recognize when you make mistakes, but learn to love yourself for them. You’re supposed to make mistakes… that’s how you learn. My therapist always tells me, “When a baby is learning to walk, do we chide them when they fall or say, ‘Come on! It’s ok, you can do it!’?”.
Stop making comparisons between your mistakes and someone else’s triumphs. The two of them have nothing to do with each other. And there’s a lot more room at the top than you think, if you’re willing to work for it.
5: Working Hard, Worrying Less
I hate to push the ‘act as if’ idea, but it’s true… sometimes you need to keep your head in your work and stop worrying about what other people are doing around you.
This morning, I woke up feeling rough as hell… and I admitted it. I knew I couldn’t keep quiet about what was bugging me. I would love to be the person who can work through her pain on something totally unrelated, but that’s just not who I am.
My pain isn’t who I am, either, but it is part of me, and I need to work with it, not against it.
And I can no longer worry about how other people feel about that. Finding my voice and getting good with me is so much more important.
Now, am I saying to be a total asshole for no reason other than ‘you’re pissed’? Absolutely not. I think we should use our pain to do good in the world. So that’s what I’m trying to do.
But pain is an inevitable part of being human. And there’s no shame in that.
Use it to your advantage.
Drop Comparisons, Make Room for Compassion
As you slowly recognize and filter comparisons out of your life, try to make room for compassion… for yourself and for others.
Right now, I’m pissed off. I love my country but my government is shit, I make allowances for people in my family just because they’re ‘old, ignorant, and never gonna change’, and to top it all off I’ve got my own mental health issues I have to deal with on a daily basis.
Even through all that, I still have love for myself and for the world. Even if just a little bit.
So instead of comparing yourself to someone else, practice compassion for yourself and your pain. And no matter how bleak it gets, no matter how pissed you are, never lose the love in your heart.
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