This has been a full summer of moving, trips, catching up on work, and relaxing in our new home in Montrose, CO. I'm been taking work one day at a time and giving myself grace in the little things. I've been mulling over some thoughts for a while now about the culture of comparison we live in. I've gone through many ups and downs in this business journey and here are a few things I've learned about comparing my work to others'.
Owning a small business is not for the faint of heart. There are so many uncertainties and variables involved. There's rejection and failure. And in the age of social media, it's even easier to see your inadequacies. Everyone else seems to be so successful and have it all figured out. It doesn't matter what profession or stage of life you're in, it's easy to get caught up in how much better everyone else seems to be doing it.
I'm really good at comparing myself to other entrepreneurs who are so much more successful than I am. I've run into so many closed doors in this journey and it's hard to know how to keep pushing when you're not sure if your efforts will be in vain.
What's worse is that sometimes I compare myself not to others, but to my own expectations for myself. I'm not as good as I think I should be. That painting I created is not as realistic as I had intended. My marketing strategy isn't on point. It can be hard to stave off that creeping feeling of being less than. But in this journey, I've learned a few things about comparison as I've struggled to fight hard against it.
1. Everyone isn't as together as they appear to be.
We don't see the struggle and work that other people put into what they do. We don't know their insecurities. All we know is what we can see on the outside. And sometimes that looks pretty darn enviable.
But everyone else does not have it all together. It's easy to make it look that way from a distance. And we can blame it on social media, but even in work situations, at the gym, or in church, it's easy to look at other people and think they would never struggle with the things you struggle with. But we all struggle with something. Most of us put our best foot forward, but that doesn't mean our lives our perfect.
2. Celebrate others' wins.
When someone's life looks picture perfect, while I know they have struggles, I'm learning to genuinely hope that things are as good for them as they appear to be. I really want all to be be right with the world, so in some strange way, I want to see other people happy and successful. Because someone else's success (or cute family, or clean house) is not a reflection on me or my inadequacies so I can just be glad for their success. Maybe that's not your reaction and that's okay. But consider encouraging others - on social media or in real life - to be the best they can be. Celebrate their successes with them, whether you're at that same place or not. Community it created when we build each other up.
3. Challenge yourself to improve.
Does someone else's marriage seem perfect and easy? You don't see the work that they put in to make it that way. Does someone else's business seem to be flourishing? There are struggles that got them to that point. So don't quit because it looks easy for other people. Press into those hard places and strive for more.
To be honest, I'm a quitter. I want to walk away from things that seem difficult. But the last couple of years, I've learned that working through the difficult things makes the successes even better.
4. Everyone has their own unique abilities.
Every time someone walks up to my art booth and says (with a look of jealousy in their eyes) "I could never do that, some people are so talented, etc." I always say, everyone has something they're good at, but if we're all trying to be good at the same thing and in the same way, this world would be a pretty boring place.
Let's celebrate each other's unique gifts and abilities. It creates a more vibrant tapestry for the world we live in.
(Ruth Chou Simons has a great post about this over at Gracelaced)
5. Rest in who you are and what your strengths are.
There will always be someone who is better at something than I am. There will always be something for me to be insecure about. I'm not as beautiful/smart/successful as the next person. But then, no one is.That's when it becomes necessary to remember who we are in Christ and what success really is.
No one ever really arrives at success. There will always more we can do or higher we can reach. That's why we can't place our value in our works but in God's glory. Even the glory He gets from our growth in the hard seasons.
6. Wage war against envy.
In this social media culture, it's easy to look at others and think they have it all together and be a little jealous. But let's be honest, jealousy existed long before social media. Social media can facilitate the "keeping up with the Joneses" mindset, but so can looking out your window at the 'Joneses'. It's a condition of the heart. So if it helps, step away from social media and don't follow the people that spark envy; but then look at the envy in your heart and replace it with something greater. When we look to the cross it becomes less and less about us and how successful we appear to be and more about our creator.
7. Don't live for the likes.
Don't miss out on the creativity because you're obsessed with the comparison. We would do well to shut off the noise and just create – create our own unadulterated, undiluted, unabashed versions of beauty that God has given us to create. Step away from the screens and the comparison and clear your mind and create to the glory of God.
And do what God has given you to do today.