Thursday, 19 October 2017

When comparison *brings* you joy



I’m sure you have heard the saying before: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I have used it myself many times, when struggling with the envy that comes when you compare your life with the highlight reel you see on social media.

But you know what? You can actually turn it around and use comparison as a way to make yourself feel better.
Just this morning I read a confession from an author - let's call her Miranda - whom I equally admire and dislike. Admire, because she has achieved the dream – making a living by writing books – and dislike because I find her to be quite overbearing and obnoxious. Still, she is a great writer, and I keep reading her stuff and following her on Instagram, always curious what she will do next. This morning, she was characteristically honest – and uncharacteristically humble.

She said that making a living by marketing yourself and having to be interesting and innovative enough to have people pay money to hear you talk about yourself is incredibly exhausting.
Her advice to other storytellers is to not rely on earning your money solely by marketing yourself. Constantly sharing your vulnerabilities with the world will leave you raw and brittle. It will burn you out.
I always suspected that I would never be cut out to be one of those women who build their own companies. I get too scared. Too unsure of where I want to go. Hell, I’ve had this blog for over 4 years, and I still don’t know exactly where I’m going with it. I don't have a crystal-clear vision; I'm more of a vague-idea/let's-see-what-will-happen kinda girl.
The thing is: I like taking mental breaks. I need them for my sanity. And while I know that about myself, there are times where I look at other boss women and wish I could be more like them.  
Hearing Miranda share the downside of it all, and telling us that she is looking for a way out of it, is – well, it’s amazing. I’m so grateful for people who share the truth. And that’s why I continue to follow her, despite her loud personality. 



I have a job that’s not about me, and I like my job because of it. It’s nice to focus on other people. It’s nice to hear interesting stories, make connections, establish new friendships. I love when the friendly townsfolk amble past my window at work, and stop for a chat. Everybody greets me, whether they know me or not. It’s just really nice.

But the truth is: For a while there, I dreamed of being able to quit it one day. To become a writer full-time. But it was an unrealistic dream. One based on another person, not on me. Because me? I’m not cut out for it. The uncertainty, the constant hustle, the pressure to be a “media-influencer” (which I could never be, not in a million years!) would crush me. And what for? To be special? Above average? I have to admit, those thoughts crossed my mind.
I thought being a regularly employed average-Jane was not the goal I should strive for.
I thought I should “dream big”, “reach for the stars”, and “make the impossible possible”.
Turns out, you can pursue your dream while having a day-job. And it's fine to keep your day job. 
If you like what you do, if it pays the bills and you still have time for your creative endeavours, why not?
Honestly, hearing Miranda say that this is what she would do, wants to do, makes me feel lucky. Not because I chose “better” than her, but because I inadvertently did what’s best for myself. I’m telling you, man, that whole “listen-to-your-heart” thing works.
That comparison definitely brings me joy.

Then there are the multitude of tragedies I encounter every day: People who are sick, people with chronic pain, people who wistfully tell me that if they had known before what would happen to them, they would have enjoyed life more, treated their body better, made different choices.  
That comparison is humbling.

Or when I talk to my friends about their jobs.
One drives 300km every day to work and back, to be home with his kids at night.
Another one does hard physical labour at the age of 60.
Yet another friend has to live in a town 5 hours away from home for work, and only sees her husband every other weekend.
That comparison makes me appreciate my job deeply.

There is always more than one way to look at something. Negative, positive, a lesson learnt or a regret you’d like to erase – every choice can be seen in many different ways.
You are in control of how you want to look at your life and its twists and turns.

One thing I’m certain of: We all feel inadequate, insecure and like failures sometimes. Every.single.person.
You can spend your time looking at everything you don’t have and everything you’re not good at – or you can compare yourself with people who have less than you.

And when you do? 
That comparison will bring you tremendous joy.

xoxo Miriam


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6 comments

  1. What a brilliant post, Miriam. I've been shooting for the stars for years now lol... I've self published twelve books, became a lifestyle blogger and yoga teacher but I'm still not earning much money at all, but I've come to realise that it's ok that I'm not a multi million bestselling author like I'd hoped I would be lol! I have an amazing life here in the Algarve, Portugal where I've lived since I was ten years old. I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful home and we're even about to start building our dream home too. We have lovely friends too. What more could I ask for?
    Have a fabulous weekend!
    Suzy xx
    www.suzyturner.com

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    1. You know what, you are SO right. Success isn't only measured by how much money we make or how commercially successful we are. I think if we set ourselves a goal and then go ahead and achieve it - now that's success! And having written and published 12 books is bananas! What a tremendous accomplishment!
      What you have is what everybody wants: A happy relationship, good friends, and doing what you love. You are a total winner Suzy!

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  2. Oh, how I love this post. I love how you turned comparison it's head and made it work in a way that is constructive, realistic, and quite frankly true.

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    1. I don't know why we tend to only see what we don't have, instead of appreciating everything we do have. Human nature? But once we consciously do, life is much more joyful!

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  3. So true! I have really struggled with keeping my bitterness in check when I see toddlers who are walking and running and climbing and being active toddlers while Ava has been in a cast and now a brace. It just seems so unfair and I am so sad and BITTER that she can't be doing those things. Then I see or hear about a child with a truly life threatening or lifelong disability or condition and while it doesn't bring me joy, it does bring a feeling of somber perspective and reminds me that I'm so lucky hip dysplasia is 100% treatable. Same goes when I see friends' kids who are older than Ava and behind her on verbal capabilities. I'm thankful that she is such a strong and capable talker.

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    1. Oh Amy, I bet that this must be tough for you. It's so easy to look at other people who have what we wish for and feel envious.
      But that's just the thing - we tend to look at the people who have what we want, instead of appreciating what we have.
      Ava will be walking soon, and she looks like such a happy little girl!
      She will never remember her rough start into the world of walking 😊👣

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