The Comparison Trap

    The comparison trap hides itself well. You could be doing anything--beta-reading, reading another blogger's post, devouring your favourite author's latest book--and snap. You're suddenly ensnared in a net of your lying thoughts.

    Why can't I write like this? My writing is horrible... How come they have so many followers when I've been blogging for longer? People must hate my blog... No one likes my story idea. My style isn't as good as theirs. I should just quit. I'm not good enough.

    I'll admit it to you all, at the time of writing this, I'm in this trap. It's odd how it hit me, really. I was dropping by another blog, and something just...snapped. Broke. First came jealousy, and then the trap's metal teeth began to sink into my flesh. I wasn't as good as this blogger. They had far more followers. My average post never got so many comments.

    Now, I really love this blogger's posts and blog. They're amazing! (And just to let you know, I wrote this far before I posted so none of you would begin over-analyzing whether this was you.) I won't lie to you guys, it wasn't even this blogger's best post. But I could feel the trap creeping in this time, first a swallow, then slowly, slowly a tightening in my chest as I read through their post.   


     So what was it then, that made this grey cloud gather above my head? How did I fall into it? What caused me to suddenly feel like I wanted to curl into a ball and cry?

    I compared our styles, our follower amounts, our number of comments, everything. And doing so only reinforced the trap. What was I looking for? Something that I could point to and say: "see? I'm better at this" or "I have more of that". It was wrong of me to do this.

    Here's the thing, something that both you and I need to remember: 

    When you start looking at others' successes, the only thing you will see are your own failures.

    I won't profess to being a super inspiring blogger. I won't scream that I'm the next J.K. Rowling or John Green or any other super famous author. Why? Because I know where I am on my journey right now. Because I know that my "failures" are just stepping stones to becoming a better writer, better person. I may be ahead of you, or I may be a thousand miles behind.

    When I forgot that I was on a different journey than this blogger, I let comparison trap me with lies. We are all on different paths of different lengths, with different obstacles, different mountains to climb, different achievements.

    You too are at a certain point in your personal journey. Maybe you've written a hundred novels or maybe you haven't finished one yet. Maybe you think publication is within your reach, or maybe you're still struggling to get words on the page each day.

    It's okay. Either option of those I listed, and every other issue you're experiencing at the moment--it's okay to be there. Breathe.


    I've had a few days to reflect on my being in the comparison trap. I'd like to cautiously say I'm out of it now. Here are a couple things I did to escape:

1) I gave myself some space from my writing until I stopped moping about. In such a state, the only effect I'll have on my stories is a negative one.

2) I gave myself time to think over my thoughts until the lies exhausted themselves from screaming so loud.

3) I immersed myself in someone else's story. Now, this might seem a little odd given the nature of comparison, but sometimes I need to be engaged in the wonder of storytelling to make myself yearn to do it again. It has to be a story from someone I know is far, far, far ahead of me though.

4) I made peace, acknowledged that I made a mistake getting myself caught up in jealousy and self-doubt, and moved forward. 

5) I returned to writing, slowly, and read bits of my writing that I knew were good. (In some cases, I might even go back to positive feedback from others and read it over and over again.)

   And now I'm out, I'm free.


   For everyone the comparison trap holds them captive in different ways. What you have to realize is that it happens to every single person alive, and you are you. No one else. You are unique and special, and I'm so glad, because that means your journey is too.

   I can't wait to see where it takes you.



Thank you to all who follow my blog, comment, everything! You are incredible to me and honestly, the major reason I've kept this blog up. Sorry for the ramble today; I hope it was half coherent and maybe can help you escape your own trap.
What about you; have you ever been in the comparison trap? How did you break out? And if you're still in it, then I hope you keep believing in yourself. You owe yourself that.
Have a wonderful day! <3

Comments

  1. Wow, this post really hit home. I've been in that comparison trap a lot, even established authors say that it's a normal thing for writers to go through. Doesn't mean it's fun though.

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. It's definitely not fun. :( Yes I'm sure most authors get caught in it as well, so I'm not sure if it ever truly goes away. Hopefully we get better at ignoring those thoughts though. :D Thanks so much for commenting Catherine! XD

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  2. This struck right to my heart because it's taken me 5 writing projects and countless years of self doubt to finally be comfortable enough to believe I can do it. AND those things you mentioned ARE EXACTLY the things I did before I started writing again!
    The trap never fully goes away...it's something that I keep fighting. Anxiety is huge for me and what you described about reading other blogs and wishing I could write like that? That's me so many times.

    Thank you for getting so raw and exposing yourself, you REALLY encouraged me. <3 And I want you to know you have BEAUTIFUL posts, you have a flowing, straight from the heart way of writing. Keep it up Melissa, difference (even slight) is what makes the world colorful and not boring <3

    xox

    Anna - www.worldthroughherheart.blogspot.com

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    1. Awww thank you so much Anna! That's so lovely of you to say so, and you really lifted my mood. <3 Absolutely! (And may I say that your blog is AMAZING as well!)

      I'm sorry that you've been in the trap so much. It's really not the greatest feeling. :( But I believe in you! Sometimes it really just takes time for us to realize our own amazing difference. :D <3 Thanks so much for your gorgeous comment Anna!

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  3. I think we young/aspiring writers get caught up in this trap a lot, so this is a really important post. Thank you for pushing through your struggles to encourage the rest of us, Melissa!
    Jem Jones

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    1. No problem, Jem! I'm so glad that I can turn my struggles into something that can encourage others. :) Definitely, young writers can often be really hard on themselves, and so get caught. Thank you so much for commenting! :D

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  4. Beautiful post, Melissa. I've often fallen prey to the comparison trap over the years. The think that works best for me is to just accept that we aren't the same. I might get there someday, or I might not, and that's okay.

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    1. Thanks Rachel! :D So true, we have to learn to be accepting of where we are on our journey and where it will take us. There's a reason we're being led where we are! :) Thanks so much for commenting Rachel! <3

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  5. Amazing post! :)
    I think we've all felt like this at times - I know I definitely have - and it really sucks. Personally I always just try to stick to comparing myself with my past self and think 'am I better at writing/blogging than I used to be?', as comparing yourself to anyone else really isn't fair to yourself! As you say, we're all at different points of our journey, so for me to compare my writing to a published author wouldn't be fair for example, because I'm not as far along my writing career, and haven't had the same level of editing, so of course my writing won't measure up. Everyone's different, and their work will be different - it doesn't necessarily mean it's worse or better!

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    1. Thanks so much Laura! :) Wonderfully put and so true. Perhaps the comparison trap's real trick is making us compare ourselves to others, and not ourselves. Absolutely! No one's work or journey is better or worse than another's; they're just different! Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts and commenting! <3

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  6. I do this way too often and it doesn't help me succeed in anyway. So at least your in good company, I think we all doubt ourselves at some point.

    I'm glad your fighting against those feelings, because I think your blog is awesome!

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    1. Nope, it definitely isn't helpful with success. :) I'm glad to know I'm not alone, but it's sad that we all have to be caught by the trap at some stage or the other. :(

      Aww thank you so much! That's very kind of you to say so. It means a lot to me. <3 Thanks for commenting Skye! XD

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  7. I went through this when I was twelve, because I was sure a friend of mine was a WAY better writer than me, but then I realized it was stealth my joy.
    Thanks for this post! I wish I had read this when I was struggling!!! :P

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    1. *stealing, not stealth!
      #typingonphoneprobs

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    2. Haha no worries Gray! I would have understood anyways. XD Definitely, there is no joy at all in comparing yourself to others. Thanks so much for your kind words and commenting! :)

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  8. Thank you so much for writing this! I need this.. I was in comparison trap as well.
    Love your post :D

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    1. Thank you! :) I'm sorry to hear that Hana; I hope you get out of it soon! :D Thanks so much for commenting! <3

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  9. Wow, this hit me hard. I fall into this trap way more times than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I've just got to shake myself and realize that I'm me, not this other person, and God's got something great coming for me too.

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder <3

    audrey caylin

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    1. You're very welcome Audrey. :) I think we all fall into it far too often! Really well said; God has plans for us, and they are the best for us, not anyone else! <3 Thanks so much for your lovely words and for commenting!

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  10. Oy, thanks so much! It's hard to remember that you are on a different journey than others, and it's so easy to just compare yourself to someone else and get either puffed up or jealous! Again, thanks for this timely post and forgive me for not commenting sooner (I have no internet at my house!).

    ~Julian

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    1. Not a problem Julian! I have internet issues myself so fully understand the struggle. XD I'm glad you liked the post! :) Definitely, I think a lot of the time we compare in hopes of feeling better about ourselves, but often the opposite happens! Thanks so much for commenting! :D

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  11. I fall into this all the time--it's so easy to do when blogging. I typically remind myself that I can only focus on my own writing and improving it. When I fall into the comparison trap, I tend to write less fully than I'm capable of, just because I'm too worried about what someone else is doing, rather than focusing on what I can do.

    Thanks for the encouraging post!

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    1. You're very welcome RM, thank you for saying so! :) Absolutely, when I'm in the comparison trap nothing good comes from my writing, as I'm not believing in it. While blogging it can be hard to not compare, but I'm working on it. :D Thank you very much for commenting!

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  12. It's really difficult to remember that everyone's path takes a different route, whether you've been writing for one year or ten. This is all great advice, and beautifully written.

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    1. Thanks Amber! That's very kind of you. :) It really is difficult; otherwise we wouldn't fall into the trap, would we? XD Thank you so much for commenting!

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  13. Thank you so much for following me, Melissa. It means a lot. Also, nice post. We shouldn't compare ourselves to others. We should only try to be better than what we were yesterday.
    <3

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    1. No problem Ivie! I was happy to follow your lovely blog. :) (Thanks for following me too!) You're right; we should strive to better ourselves, not become jealous of others. Thank you so much for commenting! <3

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  14. YES. I relate to this so much.😭 It can be super disheartening. For me, it's other instagrams a lot...I just think, what am I doing wrong that I'm not so quickly successful as them!?? And it just really poisons our own creativity, right?! I also do it with published books and like GAHHHHH I just want to be that good! But we ARE all on a journey and like tastes are different and honestly comparison just makes us miserable. I like aspiring to be like other people, but I have to remember I will get to where I need to go so long as I work hard. :')

    So you're definitely not alone! (And also I love this post! It's so encouraging.)

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    1. Aw thanks Cait! I'm glad you think it is. <3 It totally poisons our creativity! We can get caught up in trying to mimic others, when instead, we should be focused on our own special talents and how we can improve. Hard work is the key! I'm absolutely sure you will get there! :D Thanks so much for commenting!

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  15. Thanks for sharing with such honesty, Melissa. I think we ALL struggle with this, whether it is in the area of writing, blogging, singing/making music... there is something in us that longs for approval. I think this is why social media is so popular - we see it as a chance to affirm our self-worth with the number of "likes" we get. But our value as a person, a writer, a mom, whatever, is only found in Jesus. When we are fully living the life he has given us, just walking with him and following his leading, whether at the beginning of our journey or somewhere in the middle, that is when we realize that we don't need anyone else's approval; we are loved just as we are. Keep on writing and blogging - you're doing a fabulous job!

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    1. Thank you! That's very kind of you to say so. :) Absolutely, the comparison trap can ensnare everyone! You put it very well and are so right. :D If we follow Him, we are sure to go on the path that is the best for us. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and commenting!

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  16. I have definitely been in the comparison trap. In fact, I got to give a speech when I graduated in May and I talked about how dangerous comparison is. Writing is especially vulnerable to this. I guess I just have to remind myself, over and over and over that I know who I am and how I write and that that is quite fine. It's definitely hard, though!

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    1. It's a wonderful message to share, I'm glad you got to in your speech! :) Yup, it's super hard, but I think if we keep working on it, keep reminding ourselves that we are ourselves and no one else, it should get easier. (I hope!) Thanks so much for commenting Shanti! <3

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