For one thing, comparison is the thief of joy. For another, it’s also a waste of time. So if you are spending your waking days and minutes comparing yourself to others, please, for the love of God, stop doing it.
Life is completely, utterly, gloriously and terribly different for each person. You may be in the same class, the same school, the same stage of life or your career, but you will never, ever face the same trajectory of growth as another person; Not even if you replicate every single thing the other person does. And you shouldn’t either.
About a year ago, I found myself at a strange crossroads in my blogging life and personal journey. I’d completed 10 years as a blogger and while it was a fantastic feeling, a part of me wanted more. I couldn’t explain what, exactly, but I felt I had to move beyond what I’d been doing for a decade. I contemplated the idea of launching my own business but balked at it for obvious reasons.
So I hemmed and hawed and put it off for about 8 months. I brainstormed with friends, sought counsel from other people in the field, studied what other bloggers did , well, you get the idea.
While doing my research I came across fantastic people, incredible business owners and people who had cracked the code as far as I could tell. And it overwhelmed me and made me second guess my decision.
And then there was the additional pressure of wondering, ‘What will people think? Am I being stupid in imagining that this is something that will work? Won’t people just leave if they see me branching out into something different?’
So, I sat on this idea until I felt confident enough to launch it. A whole 8 months went by before I worked up the courage to do it. Don’t judge me. This was one of my worst periods of self-doubt ever and I am kind of owning up to it only just this minute on the blog.
As the first few weeks sped by in a whirl of activity and congratulations and enquiries, I was in a sort of heady heaven of delight. People apparently loved the concept and were keen to test it out, give me a chance and support me. That feeling lasted for a little over a month and then again, self-doubt assailed me.
Because, even though people loved my work (okay, trying to be modest here but obviously failing miserably, but please ignore that!), I wasn’t confident if this was the best I could do. I made it worse by looking at every other person in my field who seemed to be doing it better, faster and way more easily than I could.
It kind of hit a peak in early June when I called up 3 friends and broke down. I admitted that I was not feeling happy and that things were not moving as per my ‘vision’. I find it a result of a lot of good things I’ve done in past lives that I found all 3 of them on the same page. All of them talked me down from that precipice of uncertainty. Each one of them told me practically that this was doable, provided I changed a few things around.
While this sank in (and boy, has it sunk in!), I realised a very important flaw which I’d tried to guard against in the entrepreneurial space.
I fell victim to comparison.
I was looking at other people’s success rates and regretting my low returns.
I was wondering how they made it seem effortless while I slogged my heart out and saw trickles of enquiries.
And that’s when I realised the thing I’d been telling other people all along:
Don’t compare your growth by other people’s standards.
You have no idea what they’ve done, how much they’ve sacrificed and how long they’ve been doing this to make it work. You don’t see the long nights spent away from family time, the hours of trying to balance it all, the days when a blank screen stares back at them when they are trying to make things work.
You don’t see the background score because you’re watching the highlight reel of these people’s lives in a silent movie. Of course it looks glorious and beautiful and easy but that’s because they have made it work for them.
The other thing I consciously and studiously stepped away from was sly tweets and status updates about ‘people changing their blogging journey’ and ‘I doubt I’ll ever read people again if they keep talking about Pinterest’. For one thing, it was putting a serious strain on my capacity for growth. For another, it was not helping me move forward on my chosen path.
I took a long time to write this post, as in put it down in words for everyone to read. I wondered what people would think about the ‘sense of failure of a budding entrepreneur’.
Then I realised something.
They’d either ignore it and move on with their lives. Or they’d feel a sense of empathy that everyone is struggling on this journey. That no matter what we do and how we do it, this isn’t easy.
And there is a sense of shared comfort in that thought.
By the way if you want to read something along these lines and by people who do a far better job of it than I have (no comparison, just fact), check out these links:
Linking up with Shantala over at her blog for this month’s edition of Chatty Blogs, a linkup I love and recommend for all bloggers.