On Blogging: Six Ways I Deal with the Comparison Trap.
[As I’m working on my tenth year blogging, I’m finally writing about some of the process and sharing answers to the questions you’ve asked me over the years! You can find the posts right here on Crumbs through the rest of 2019.]
Ugh. The comparison trap is the worst. THE WORST.
This was the most requested topic I talk about in my blogging series, so here we go!
It can be paralyzing. It can cause you to over-analyze so many things in your own life that you stop sharing anything on social media. As a blogger, it can stop you in your tracks and I find that it’s one of the reasons that most bloggers don’t continue once they start. Because they feel like they can’t keep up with/compare to/be as good as ____. Fill the blanks as we go!
There are a few things I do as a blogger myself to stay out of the comparison trap and continue loving what I do. I think it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll NEVER feel jealous or envious of another blogger if you have a blog yourself. Even if you’re not naturally a jealous person, it’s tricky. You start a blog and find this community and see the incredible work that others are doing. It’s so… personal. You decide you want to jump into some of those bigger opportunities too, so you try… and don’t get anywhere. And you’re working SO HARD and pouring your heart into it, so why isn’t it happening?
Whether it’s not being included in a retreat with others bloggers or getting book proposals rejected or heck, not even getting a comment on your blog, it’s so easy to be envious of others that are getting all of those things. It happens to everyone and social media can make you feel that the awesome thing that just happened to you? Isn’t as awesome as this other more awesome thing that happened to someone else.
The ways I keep myself out of the comparison trap on social media are pretty basic and nothing super inspiring, but they are the reason I’m still doing this ten years later! As usual, I share all my rambles below in hopes that it may help you a little.
The biggest way I avoid the comparison trap? I keep working.
Sounds like a no brainer. Obviously.
If I’m not doing my best, not working to my full capabilities, not taking risks and trying to go after what I want, then I can feel jealous and envious.
But if I’m doing everything I possible can (and I mean everything – I used to say back in the early day of blogging – I took steps every single day to make sure what I wanted could happen) and am doing it every day and not giving up, there is no reason to feel jealous. I’ll get what I am working towards eventually, because there is no other option for me. IT WILL HAPPEN.
I enjoy what I do and feel passion when I do it. I don’t do it for others – I do it because I love it. It’s fulfilling. So when I fill my life with that consistent fulfilling work schedule, it doesn’t leave a ton of room to compare. Yes, I especially did this while working my “real” job when I firststarted my blog. I’d come home and work hours at night and that would keep me motivated and moving forward.
I’ve gone on about it before, but I believe that creativity and work promote more creativity and work. Work through it and you’ll find that space. Sitting back and wallowing in jealousy will not reveal that space.
I know that the grass is always greener.
Yes this is embarrassingly cliché. I know!
But I’m aware that as long as I let jealousy eat me alive or compare myself to other people, that no matter where I am in life, even if I become some crazy trajillionaire and BFF’s with Oprah, I’ll still probably want the next thing. The comparison trap just prevents you from actually getting what you want. Essentially, I will never be satisfied! (god I love/hate that Hamilton song for this reason.)
This makes the comparing a little more… real. It has made me realize that unless I want to spend the rest of my life comparing my stuff to someone else – I gotta get over it. Like I am WASTING TIME.
I never know someone else’s situation.
Behind the big numbers, gorgeous feed, incredible style, there could be so much heartache or debt or anxiety or devastation. I just don’t see it.
This is something I’ve gone back to time and time again, even before I started blogging. I’m pretty sure it all began when Eddie and I were looking to buy our first house, and our budget was well under $100K. And I’d turn on House Hunters and see a newly married couple who were first time homebuyers with a budget of $860K.
Or something wacky like that, you know? I mean, I even thought this when I’d see some of my friends buy their first house on facebook back in the day! He would say to me “you just don’t know their situation!”
In real life, I have experienced this a lot. People who seem to have a happy relationship end up facing devastation and divorce. Friends who seem to have an incredible job with lots of advancement opportunity, fun travels and a big paycheck? Secretly hate it.
I just never know what anyone else is going through! I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes.
It’s the first thing I think about when I start to compare myself to others. Nothing is as pretty as social media makes it seem.
I never, ever have thought that there isn’t enough room for me. Or you. Or anyone!
I believe that the whole idea of comparing ourselves to others starts with something else: the belief that if they’ve already done something, we can’t do it. Like there isn’t room to do it.
Which is insane! It’s totally fake.
When I see someone else get an opportunity that I’d love to have, it causes me to work harder and/or smarter. I might make an action plan or figure out what exactly I need to be doing (even if it’s farfetched!) to reach that goal. If I sit back and wallow? I just get depressed.
When I say “exactly,” I mean… exactly. Big and little steps.
A good example of this is a cookbook. So many of you have reached out to me about how you’d love to write a cookbook someday. Some of you are bloggers and some of you aren’t. I firmly believe that having an audience and online portfolio (blog!) helps a lot in getting that cookbook deal in this day and age.
So if I was on the other side of things, my action plan would be to spend the next year really focusing on my blog and building that audience in order to get closer to the cookbook goal. Working at it every single day. Creating content constantly and consistently. A more exact plan would be to create a schedule to post on my blog, stick to it, be consistent and present on social media, test a ton of recipes, engage with the readers of my blog and show support to other bloggers. A lot of the things I mentioned in my post about building an audience. While doing that, I’d also research literary agents, book proposals, self-publisher, going the traditional route, and so on. Maybe even send out a few pitches once I felt like I built my content.
If I wasn’t working towards that every single day, I wouldn’t allow myself to complain.
This is how I kept my blog going the first few years! The exact way, in fact.
Occasionally, I stop looking at others’ stuff.
This is easy today, because instead of unfollowing someone (and therefore, losing a friend or alienating a coworker/peer), you can just mute them! Thank you, social media in 2019.
But I don’t love this idea (and it’s the one I see recommended the most), because to me, it doesn’t solve the problem. Eventually you will find someone else to compare yourself to and it’s a cycle.
However! Staying off social media does double duty because if I’m soooo busy looking at others’ stuff on social media, it’s not like I’m taking the time to work on my own big goals. I’m literally procrastinating on my stuff by scrolling. It’s ridic.
There are a lot of things I want to accomplish so whyyyy am I spending this amount of time on something so meaningless?
Luckily, I’m usually more INSPIRED by others’ content than jealous of it, and if that’s the case, I often reach out to them. I want them to know how incredible their work is. Sending that message takes so much of the envy out of it for me.
Finally, I really just take emotional inventory of my life.
Am I doing exactly what I want to be doing? That’s what I ask myself the minute I start to feel jealous.
Sure, do I wish I could fly to NYC or LA every week and film a cooking show? Yes. Do I want to leave my kids every week? No. Easy choice for me, but one I remind myself of every now and then.
This year, I wrote down what I want my life to look like. I highly suggest you do the same! I’ve done this in previous years, but an updated one matters to me right now because I have little kids at home. When I find myself comparing what I’m doing to things that others are doing, I take a look at that list to remind myself where I want to be in REAL LIFE. What will matter in 20 years? For me, I want to be with my kids, I want to take Max to school, I want to give them baths and put them to bed. Those things are important to me. Some opportunities wouldn’t allow me to do things like that. It’s a balance at every stage of life, and I have to determine which things are important – when do I say yes and no?
Obviously this is just one example in my situation, but you might be in one that’s similar or you can take the same idea and relate it your life. I know a lot of you are moms with young kids, and it’s ridiculous to compare your life/blog/social media/ to someone who is 20, single and traveling the world. This helps put things in perspective for me and allows me to lay out a plan to work towards goals I have with my work while feeling really good about my life.
A lot of this is so super cliché, but it is truly how I’ve managed to keep my blog going for a decade. Years ago, I recorded a video with my friend Nicole for her food summit about the comparison trap and she recently recorded another one about that struggle.
The truth is that if you can’t stop comparing yourself to others, then you probably shouldn’t have a blog. But it’s the same for any entrepreneurial business. If you own a restaurant, there are a million others. If you write a novel, there are a million others. It goes on and on! Finding yourself in a competitive, comparative downward spiral sucks the joy out of everything.
Good news: once you start to get older, you just really stop caring about things like comparing yourself to others and what other people are doing. Ha!
I’d love to hear how you guys manage feelings of inadequacy or comparison in the world of social media. Leave more of your blogging questions below, and I’d be glad to answer. XO
44 Comments on “On Blogging: Six Ways I Deal with the Comparison Trap.”
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I loved this post…kind of a “behind the scenes peek” feel to it.
That said, I find the differences in blogs I follow exactly why I follow them. I don’t want to check out blogs that all look/fee/post alike. It is the creative differences that make each unique and special. I love the variety of writing styles, recipe choices, photography approaches and over all “feel”.
I don’t compare when I am reading a blog. The only thing I do is tend to keep going back to those sites that offer a wide variety of recipes, a personal feel and beautiful photos.
I have been following your blog for close to 9 years and I have loved your evolution and commitment to what you love to do. Keep up the great work…you are very much appreciated.
thank you so much nancy!
Girl, thank you for keeping it real!
thank YOU sam! xo
I get stuck in my own fear. I don’t know why but I do. I start comparing myself way before and won’t hit submit/publish. And it isn’t even comparing myself to others, it’s some sort of fear. I think it goes back to my divorce and my attorney telling me not to speak a word about my divorce. And the h*ll I went through during the divorce has scarred me. But little by little, I open up. I have about 30 blog posts in my queue waiting to hit publish but yet, I don’t move forward. So that is my question: How did you move through any fear you may have had in the beginning? As always, thanks for everything you do.
I have a blog I began in 2013 due to a health issue with Candida. I basically didn’t know how or what I was going to eat because it was super restrictive. So, I thought if I’m having difficulty, others must be, too. So I started sharing recipes, adapting other’s recipes, sharing products, etc. to help others while helping myself. It was scary, especially my first few posts. I tried to write positively to encourage others. I feel if you focus your blog about helping others, it will come together for you. In those 30 posts you have, you might really have words that will touch someone. So, I would just start hitting publish.
this is still something that is hard for me!! i’m so old school though that half the time i use my blog almost like a diary, which is what can push me out of my comfort zone. another thing i notice is that over the last 10 years, the connection i’ve made with readers is not necessary because i post a really good chicken recipe. it’s usually because i’ve opened up about certain things, and we have something in common.
but it is still hard for me (even something like publishing this post felt very vulnerable!) – i think the writing/sharing process is cathartic for me!
I don’t have a blog, but I’m a new mom who works in a media agency with TONS of young and fabulous people who are partying it up all the time, and it’s so hard not to compare! I need to remind myself every so often that when I was 23 I was doing the same thing, and 10 years later things just look a little different!
love this example!! so true!!
I loved this post. Good advice for bloggers and just… humans.
I thought the same too❤️
thank you so much!! guys that really means a lot to me. xo
Jessica, you hit the nail right on the head (as you always do). I’ve been following your blog forever, and have your cookbooks. I kinda/sorta met you years and years ago at the Buzzfeed festival in SFO. I’ve been blogging for over ten years, and have seen the whole scene change so much. I became bewildered by all the cooking videos (wishing I knew how to make them), and how bloggers had such gorgeous photos and food styling shots (yours included). I allowed myself to feel in adequate and so I gave up. For a while. I’m going to retire in less than 2 years. My goal is to be able to focus on my blog on a regular basis. I realized, after my hiatus, that I really just love cooking and baking. I just have to learn to keep my brain from becoming atrophied. LOL I’m learning about SEOs, how to use social media the best way, visiting food blogs and giving them kudos that they deserve. I’m taking photography classes to improve my shots. In that process, I’m having fun again. Now, when I open up a blog post from my RSS feeds, I admire their work. I study their composition and make mental notes like “oooh I want to learn how to do that”! You’re so right. The comparison game almost killed my blogger joy. Cooking and baking is my love language and that’s what I plan to focus on. What a great post, and it really encouraged me to keep going and to be myself. Thank you!
PS: What makes your blog so fun is your humor and frankness. I love your photos and I will forever thank you for those Peanut Butter and Fudge Cupcakes I baked all those years ago. It made me a rock star!
thank you, thank you, thank you!! it is SO easy to start feeling bad about your own stuff when you look at other people’s works. i still can get in that mode!!
I don’t blog, but I think this all applies to everyone no matter what life choices. Evaluating the reasons behind choices and if they match values and goals helps mitigate that FOMO/comparison trap. I’ve chosen to be in a small work space that pays slightly less than if I had the same position in a larger company, but it’s also allowed me a ton of flexibility as a (single) mom that wanted to be still be able to volunteer at school events and have nights and weekends be non-work time. It is hard sometimes to see my friends and peers that have the ‘incredible jobs with lots of advancement opportunities, fun travels and a fat paycheck”‘ but I know what is important to me is to be available for my kid at this stage of life. and? also remind myself that nothing is stagnant and there will be new opportunities to explore at any given time. Also? follow a fantastic blogger/cookbook author that literally might have the cutest kids in the world because that just makes everyone happy to see those faces.
yes yes yes!! this has helped me as a new mom too. so much!!
thank you so much always for your support! xo
Loved reading this!
thank you! xo
These tips are for life also – not just blogging ;)
thank you angela. :)
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Thank you for this post. You have such a bright, positive outlook on blogging. I admire you for wanting to stay home and be with your children. You will never regret these moments because you can’t get them back. I started my food blog because of health issues with Candida and have branched our to include my love for reading. I’ve been working on my photography a lot!! You have always been my source of inspiration and I wish you continued success in the way YOU determine success. I think the secret is to do what you feel in your heart is right, and go for it. That’s what you have always done! 💖😀
thank you so so much ladonne! xo
And this is why I have been with you since the start 10 years ago when I stumbled upon your blog. I love your honesty, beauty within and frankness.
I’m not a blogger but I do make jewelry. You want to talk about falling in the comparison trap well I’m your gal! Between processes, setups, photography and just overall designs it’s so easy to be overwhelmed with what everyone else is doing that you lose yourself in the big picture.
Last year I decided to be true to myself and just put my head down and work, work, work. And it is working! I’ve decided the things I’m not good at I’ll outsource (photography). This allows me to focus on the parts of my business I am passionate about. The upside is I am less cranky and get much more accomplished than I used to in the same period of time. I’ve also really cracked down on time spent on the web…I look for trends and inspiration but limit my time to first thing in the am and last thing at night. It’s working!
Most of all I love your line “Good news: once you start to get older, you just really stop caring about things like comparing yourself to others and what other people are doing.” Yup, just yup. I now focus on what shows I want to be in, what techniques I want to learn and how I can pay it forward by teaching.
I just wish I had been as put together as you are when I was your age. Well, late 50’s is the new late’30’s – right?
Your blog is the best! You are the best! This post is wonderful!
P.S. Great sweater! Please link it!!
I second that! She’s the BEST! SWEATER info? please
I’m not a blogger but this is excellent advice for life in general. I’d say from the look of pure joy on your face in the picture included in this post that you are doing a fine job of handling your mom/wife/job balance!
I’ll always be a faithful follower of you blog Jessica!
Thank you Jessica I really enjoyed this post. I dont judge
any blog, I just enjoy them. I just opened a cafe and boy its hard always judging myself and my food etc not sleeping
trying to get myself out of this circle of over thinking
so last week I decided to give myself a break and just
go for it and if its meang to be it will be.
Thanks so much for sharing this! I adore you and your blog and am an avid reader, so any advice you give is always important to me!
I was literally thinking “I need to stop comparing myself to others” and this popped up as I was watching Insta stories. Like a freaking sign or something. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST. It is exactly what I needed this morning. ❤️
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You and Smitten are the best bloggers ever so you have nothing to stress about girl!
You continue to inspire me! <3
Just wanted to say although I am not a blogger, I love these posts and apply them to my job. You have such a great energy. Thank you 😀
This post came just in time. I have been away from my blog for almost 9 months.
I have stopped writing for the excuse that no one reads. I wasn’t cooking (or at least not photo worthy cooking). I was shooting for clients but barely anything for myself. IF I did, I’d post them in instagram.
I have been living on instagram and seeing what others post. I’ve been seeing how other people made their thing on instagram with reposts and repulsive photos (that people like, apparently) and that put me down and kept me from sharing my unique quality content.
But it has always been in the back of my mind that I should be cooking, writing, and shooting again for the blog.
I have made up my mind and put a rough plan in my head and I am trying to get it done by sharing my first post and going back to cooking and sharing recipes again.
Thanks to you I have a reference point to the mindset to have before going back.
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I loved this. When I first started blogging, I fell quickly into the comparison trap. It really is so easy to do. I loved your reminder to ask “Am I doing what I want to be doing?” Because that really sums it all up. I will be sure to rememeber that on the harder days.
Two other phrases I’d like to share that also help me:
“The grass is greener where you water it.” — I’m sure this is an age-old saying, but I first heard it when author Jane Green was giving a speech about her “almost affair” that inspired one of her novels. I was gobsmacked; it just made so much SENSE. I prefer it to the “grass is greener on the other side” because it reminds you that you can’t just wait for what you want to leap over the fence into your yard; you have to put in the effort to get what you want.
“There is always going to be someone worse than you and someone better than you at something. ” — My grandmother said this to me when I was little. It’s humbling and empowering all at the same time, and it’s something I always try to remember when I feel I’m not good enough or that I’m getting too big a head over something. :-)
Thanks for sharing your tips!!
I wouldn’t even call this blogging advice – this is some solid LIFE advice. It’s also specific while still being applicable to a lot of different people/situations. I’ve been on a minimalism/organization/how to build the life I want kick for a few years now and I love finding books on the topic. I read one book that specifically touted finding balance to build the life you want, and I was suuuuper disappointed in it because it was an interesting sorta-autobiography of the author but it felt like she just kept repeating “it’s all about balance!” between personal anecdotes about her life instead of offering any solid advice about how to figure out what balance works for you or how to assess your priorities before trying to find that balance. So essentially, you accomplished in a single blog post what I’d been looking for that wasn’t delivered in an entire book!
Thank you for sharing! This is so important and absolutely not talked about enough. Thank you for giving me the hope and inspiration to keep working on my new blog. :)