inspiration, life

Comparison – ‘thief of joy’ or useful tool?

comparison 2

“Do not compare yourself to others, for you will become vain and bitter. For always there will be those greater and lesser than yourself.”

– Desiderata


Comparison robs us of our joys. At a time when people are posting their end of year successes and New Year goals, or posting pictures of wonderful holidays or romantic NYEs, it can be very easy to compare what we have to what others appear to have. This generally isn’t helpful. We know it isn’t helpful but we still do it….



Why do we compare? At a basic level it can be a tool to help us evaluate or gauge where we are. Schools do it right from when children are small. As a society we rank movies, compare them to each other, we do the same with sports teams and players. So it’s no surprise that we compare ourselves to the people around us. It can be an effective way to figure out how far along the way to our goals we are.


Unfortunately it doesn’t often turn out that way. Usually comparison leads to us feeling dissatisfied with ourselves. On the rare occasion that comparison shows us to be ahead of someone else that also doesn’t really help – we like to feel that we’re better than someone else, but in the end that doesn’t really do anything to improve our own set of skills, or our approach to life.


I’ve learned a couple of things about comparison through two communities – the writing community and the teaching community.


The writing community is probably the most supportive and nice community I’ve been in. Even more than teachers! And teachers are pretty amazing (shout out to my teaching buddies ). But even though everyone is super supportive, welcoming, and encouraging, as a newbie writer it’s so easy to fall into comparison mode. People share their work and what stage they are at (writing, revising, querying, publishing) and it all seems so unattainable and as if they’ve done it so easily (even though we know that isn’t the case).


In contrast (hah!), I don’t compare myself as a teacher. Why not? Continue reading “Comparison – ‘thief of joy’ or useful tool?”