By Jenni Sellan
Its persuasion is subtle; it’s influence measured only by the opportunities and races we have ruled ourselves out of. Comparison. The ultimate confidence killer.
Somewhere along the line, we have unconsciously subscribed to a prescription of beauty and success that is narrow and for the most part, one-dimensional; it’s nothing new, but the constancy of its presence in our lives has reached unprecedented levels. With little to no boundaries, the acceleration of social media combined with traditional forms of print advertising mean that we are constantly bombarded with perfected, idealised images. Paired with a celebrity culture that has reached cult status it’s no surprise that we find ourselves hesitating and wondering how on earth we can measure up, let alone be seen or heard.
Our place in time is amidst a generation that boldly puts out the challenge to be ambitious and self-confident, to hold exceedingly high expectations, to be seekers of adventure; to be fearless and champion the belief that we can have it all, be it all and do it all.
And as if that were not enough, held to the highest value is the call to embrace our unique qualities, remaining true to ourselves; to ‘zig’ when everyone else is ‘zagging’. Its sentiment is powerful.
“Don’t be like the rest of them darling, ” an instagram-affirmation favourite; liked, swiped and shared. But are we really ready to embrace the essence of its message and its associated implications, because this notion of living leaves no room for comparison or self doubt. In fact it screams of self-confidence.
Who of us is bold and vulnerable enough to truly be at one with ourselves? My guess is that the number of ‘likes’ outweighs the number of us genuinely living it out.
Comparison is not unique to a specific industry, lifestyle, demographic or personality; it is indiscriminate. (The fashion industry alone cannot be blamed for this one!), and unless we are living in isolation there will always be someone who we consider to be prettier, smarter, skinnier, curvier, more successful; their houses are bigger and their cars are faster, their snapchat following boarders on celebrity and without a doubt they take a better picture.
In this current age, our lives are lived on line and the perceived gap between ‘them’ and us is served up as a daily reminder; filtered, edited, screened. #published
There is no question that comparison will limit us as it strikes at the core of our self confidence and realistically, stepping out from it’s grip and distraction is an arduous task requiring significant resolve from within; if only it were as simple as taking a sabbatical from our social media pleasures.
In a recent article I wrote for AMFAM, I touched on the point that what we see, is what is chosen for us to see .The flip side to this truth which extends beyond the ‘published” version of life is that ultimately the meaning that we create around what we see, is a choice that belongs solely to us; and to the same end we not only choose to create meaning about what we see, but how we chose to see ourselves.
Comparison will hold us to our imperfections, turning us toward our weaknesses instead of allowing us to see our possibilities. We have become so familiar with our failings and shortcomings that we have been rendered still, and even worse, silent.
The key to beating comparison is not about changing the way we perceive outside influences, but rather the way we see ourselves. It’s about a relationship… with yourself.
In her book, The Woman I always wanted to be, Diane von Fürstenberg says this that “the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Who else is with you at all times? Who else feels the pain when you are hurt? The shame when you are humiliated? Who can smile at your small satisfactions and laugh at your victories but you? Who understands your moments of fear and loneliness better? Who can console you better than you? You are the one who possess the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.”.
Unpacking comparison will be a process that we will more than likely have to go through several times and for some of us in the beginning it may even be a daily task. Regardless of its frequency, the key is investing the time into understanding your why; who you are, what you love, what you want to say and how you want to contribute.
And if you really must compare, do so with yourself and stop measuring your value and worth against a stick that has been edited beyond reality. Create a vision of your ultimate self and start walking toward him or her. In the words of Bob Goff, “we won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated by purpose”.
Instead of aspiring to be like another, be inspired and add your own flavor. Steal her style? Screw that. Create your own. Don’t let comparison steal your creativity.
True self-confidence comes from knowing who you are, having a relationship with yourself and recognising that comparison will not serve but rather limit you. We have to let our hunger for our own purpose and voice outweigh our hesitation when what we want looks different to what is currently being done, and when you see your mind traveling into comparative spaces… (You’ll hear the voices, ‘you’re not as good as, it’s not done as well as, no-one knows who you are….) kick the internal chatter to the curb.
Comparison doesn’t deserve your power, confidence does.
The world needs diversity both in its voice and its expression and when these two collide, that’s when we will see magic happen.
Illuminate what is inside of you. Put yourself in the spotlight. There is more than enough room for you.
Don’t be like the rest of them darling…..