“I feel like I’m always trying to be perfect, and always failing.”
Ever feel like that?
Yeah, me too, that’s why I whined it in the general dumbfounded direction of The Fella this morning as I dashed from a training session with a client to work all while trying to clean the apartment before the cleaning lady came (because I’m afraid she judges me)…and lamenting the fact that my hair had started to resemble accidental dreadlocks and I had no time to fix it.
Sometimes I read blogs and they make me self-conscious because my life is not nearly as picture perfect as the one glowing at me from my computer screen—I have one of those fancy lighting umbrella things, and a fancy camera, and Photoshop, what I don’t have is the time to figure out how to use them correctly.
What I’m telling ya’ll is that you shouldn’t feel that way about me.
I’ve been thinking about comparison a lot lately. I recently read, Still Writing, a book about the profession of writing by Dani Shapiro, a novelist and memoirist I really enjoy. While I liked the general discourse about writing, there was a particular scene in the book that really resonated with me. She discussed the success of one of her Master’s students when they sold their first manuscript; afterward other students would come into her office hysterical, as if there were some finite amount of success and this other student had snatched the last of it.
Yes, we read that and we think “how silly,” but in our own realities we all have moments like that; when someone is outperforming us, snatching the brass ring before we even knew there was one, or accomplishing a seemingly effortless perfect life.
I have two initial, but seasoned thoughts about comparison:
- Somewhere there is someone who feels that way about you. If you’re like me, you think your life is pretty ordinary, but no matter how hard life is sometimes, there is someone out there comparing themselves to you and thinking you have it better.
- Comparison can be good, but not too much. Comparison at its basest form is admiration, and it’s a great way to identify what you want in life. But that’s where it should end, because we all have our own journey. We don’t really know at what cost success comes to others. One question I get pretty often from other writers is, “what’s your process like?” I’ll tell you now, my process for writing news is to sit on the couch, sipping coffee, fact checking and fretting about my grammar; my process for writing blogs is to groggily open my computer at the end of a long day and try and muster some interesting nugget from my life; and my process for writing my book was to cry all the time, I cried in cafes, I cried in the library, I cried on the subway, and somewhere in between it all a few words would string together before I couldn’t handle it anymore and stopped writing.
Rest assured, there is not a finite amount of success. There are, however, different types of success. Sometimes the things that come easily to you are the things that someone else would give anything for. Comparing ourselves to others and the pressure to be perfect that many of us battle on a daily basis will only serve as a distraction on the way to finding our own successes.
While I’m only making one resolution for 2014, I do think I will make a point to be less focused on how others keep do it all, and actually focus on how I do it.
Oh, and here’s what I ate. No comparing.
Superhero breakfast on the go
Builder’s Bar and 1% Milk
I swear there’s more than just leaves and onions in that salad: arugula, red onion, grilled chicken, peas, mandarin oranges, and spicy mango dressing
I feel silly writing “fruit salad.” You know it’s fruit salad.
Roy made an enormous tofu stir fry for us for dinner.
Exercise: Home spin session. 60 minutes of bike time in front of the TV.