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:

Life’s Enough: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Do you have shiny object syndrome?

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.


23 thoughts on “Why you should stop comparing yourself to others

  1. Been a while since I visited this blog, Shailaja. Been a while since I’ve written something meaningful as well. But this post was part of my reading list for today, and I’m really glad it was. This is a reminder we all need time and again. No matter where we are, that’s where we are, and that’s where we’re supposed to be.

  2. Comparison certainly is the thief of joy as there will always be people better than us. I think the only way to compare is with your own self — where you were and where you are at now.

  3. I think if it is a healthy competition, not the pure comparison it is not bad.
    But you should not compare or copy anybody. You have to be an original and bright person!

  4. I am usually very happy with others. I was just unhappy with myself. Different situation πŸ™‚

    And you are too sweet. I do love the way you’re always around to boost me up when I am down. That takes an insane amount of love and I am grateful for it.

  5. Agree, Geethica πŸ™‚ It’s not so much being unable to feel happy for others. That’s a different thing. It’s more a sense of not reaching your own potential that I am referring to here.

  6. It is human nature, I agree. No matter how much we try, sometimes, it gets the better of us. But thanks to people like you, I am glad to be back on the other side. Again, thank you πŸ™‚

  7. That’s the lesson I learned from your post I shared today. The ‘Firgun’ post. Comparing my journey to others is only going to disturb me no end. Better that I focus on my work, my accomplishments (from where I started few years ago, to where I am now!) and work on my shortcomings. Each one is on a completely different journey. Best to leave them alone and concentrate on MYSELF! πŸ˜›

  8. Comparison is a bad thing, unless it is healthy competition and learning from one another. Good you chose to ignore the naysayers and the meanos.

    What is a sly tweet?

    I am proud of you for having the courage to make the difficult decision to start a business. Not many people follow through on their dreams and that alone sets you apart. Yes, we are all very special and unique and do not have to be like anyone else. This I realized long ago.

    Next week – my blogging journey will be fifteen years old. In the beginning years, I’ve sat on the crossroads, on the painful fence, wondering if I should doing this and doing that, but I stopped to think what made me happy and just stuck to that. Today’s world is rife with FOMO. In any situation there’ll always be people watching you and envying your progress or rejoicing over your non-progress. πŸ™‚ Ignore them.

    I wish you success always–may your efforts pay you rich dividends always, Shailaja!

  9. I fall into this trap so often. Would remember these thoughtful words. No person is the same, and therefore no journey can ever be the same. We all live in our own time zones. Life will play out when it should… You have laid out your experiences in such an honest way. I appreciate this so much. Embracing our vulnerabilities, drawbacks and learning from them, and feeling ok to share it with the world- that is the real path to unburdening ourselves completely…. I learnt so much… Thank you…

  10. Shailaja, I can relate to this so very strongly. You know comparison will never get you anywhere yet you often fall into the trap. When I started The Dance Bible, we were the first such platform in India but soon others came in, they emulated our concept (imagine there are now a few out there who call themselves India’s first/biggest dance platform and such…ha), learnt from our mistakes and came up with better models. It was frustrating. But you have to focus on your journey! Hugs!

  11. This piece is so well-timed for me. Of course I know comparing yourself to someone else is pointless, yet there are days when I fall into that trap and end up feeling terribly inadequate. Normally a talk with my sister or a piece like this helps pull me out of that low.

  12. Nothing can hinder success like comparison. Nothing can make you feel worthless like comparison. Nothing can hold you back like comparison. Thankfully for me, I learnt this very early in life and I do bother with it anymore. This has made me very happy for myself as well as others. The feeling is genuine and that’s all that matters.

    You are excellent at what you are doing. Do you realize that there are people doing this for many years and still aren’t half as successful as you are. What would you say about that? You are great where you are and you are following your dreams and passions. Nothing else should matter.

  13. No no no don’t let these lingering self doubts kill your spirit. It takes a lot courage to implement an idea and then takes even more efforts to keep it going. Many give up midway and that’s why a lot of good ideas fail. Keep striding forward and keep working on your dream. You are doing exceptional πŸ˜€

  14. β€œYou cannot hear the background score because you are watching the highlight reel of their silent movie!” Truer words have never been spoken (or written); and I completely agree with you. I have been there, in the depths of self doubt; and have struggled to find my way out. Loved your expression πŸ™‚ Glad to have found you through BAR.

  15. What you say is absolutely true. Everyone compares. Then there is the green monster which will gnaw at the pit of your stomach. It’s human. I guess what we need is a perspective about that comparison. Try and take lessons from others’ successes that you can implement to better yourself. Look at what you may be doing wrong. Use stagnation as a springboard to look at your strategy. Use others’ successes to provide yourself a pep talk. And those times when you feel angry or frustrated, talk it out with someone. Focusing on one’s journey is much more rewarding. But then being human, others’ laurels may sometimes demotivate you too. Be aware and watchful for it.

  16. This is true. Many times we compare our little success with others and we don’t even realise. But the results come in front of us when it affects us mentally and we stalked by that feeling of being low.
    It’s hard to accept but we need to be happy for others and not comparing to them

  17. I cannot agree more with everything you have written here, Shy. As cliched as the saying is, comparison truly is the thief of joy. Having said that, I think it’s human nature to fall prey to it every now and then. I know I have been guilty of it. However over the past year I have been really successful at keeping my blinders on and focusing only on my journey. And it has done wonders for my peace of mind and overall happiness. πŸ™‚

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