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