Why you should never compare yourself to others

As a writer, you might pick up a bestseller and think to yourself, ‘Why isn’t my writing this good?’

Or perhaps that blog with thousands of loyal readers is your constant source of comparison.

I’d be surprised to meet anyone that at some point has not compared themselves to others in regards to their bodies, looks, clothes, careers, houses.

Let’s be honest, this list is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comparing.

Young girls are particularly bad at comparing themselves and coming up short and many of them carry the burden of constant comparison into adulthood.

We see people with better lives than ours, or at least what we perceive to be ‘better’ and want what they have.

As a writer/blogger/creative type these comparisons can dominate your thinking and affect your self-confidence, if you allow them.

While this post may have been written with creatives in mind – the tips for not comparing yourself apply to everyone.

Here are some thoughts to consider.

Don’t compare yourself to successful people who have been working for a long time

One of my favorite authors is Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer of Eat Pray Love and Committed.

Would I love to write like her? I certainly would. Do I berate myself because I am not up to her calibre yet?  Definitely not. Elizabeth has been writing for many years and I am just beginning my writing journey.

Don’t beat yourself up that you are not as good (yet!) as an experienced writer who has been writing for a long time.  They have had a lot longer, not to mention the help from some great editors, to fine tune their craft.

Of course beginning writers can put out startling works of brilliance. There is evidence of this at any bookstore. That next brilliant piece of work may in fact be yours.

Find role models and people who inspire you

Perhaps you pick up that bestseller and think, ‘This author is an expert at characterization. How can I improve this aspect of my writing? How can I make my central character stronger?’  This sort of thinking is going to be a lot more constructive than comparing yourself unfavorably to the author.

Having people whose work you admire and respect is a positive thing. Study their writing and look for ways to improve your own work.

You are a unique individual – be unique

Whilst admiring your favorite author, journalist or blogger and studying their work is one thing, copying their style is not a good idea.

If you are a novelist you may even take on their genre but you will still need to find your own writing style and voice.

Many magazines and newspapers are written in a particular style and most prefer writers to keep within that style as it suits the target audience and the appropriate demographic of the publication. Again this does not mean you cannot find your own voice. You still need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Related postWhy it’s Okay to be Different

Be your own cheer squad

As a creative person, whether you are a writer, blogger, designer, dancer, singer, actor etc – you are going to need a thick skin. Not everyone is going to love everything that you produce. They won’t be cheering for you all the time.

You on the other hand need to be. You need to be your own biggest fan.

This isn’t easy and some days it can feel downright impossible as we tend to be our own worst critics.

Instead of comparing ourselves, we simply pick apart our work, searching for every flaw. Try to resist this temptation.  Instead rally your inner cheer squad and produce the best piece of work that you can.

The funny thing is we aren’t always the best judge of our own work.

Sometimes I will publish a blog post and think it was really good and will be well received – only to have it fall flat. Other times I will hit publish secretly thinking it was well below standard and it will get lots of traffic and shares because it resonated with people.

It’s not always obvious what is going to be a success. Either way you need to keep cheering for yourself.

Related post – How to Believe in Yourself When People Don’t Support You

Run your own race

There is some stiff competition out there – lots of it, truth be told. Competition will always exist.

Even if you are the first to come up with a brilliant idea, if that idea is successful and making money, eventually someone will attempt to compete with you.

There will always be someone both better and worse off  than you, so comparing yourself to them is fruitless. Appreciating and being grateful for the abundance that you do have is more productive and will allow more happiness in your life.

Ultimately you are racing against yourself. Constantly work to improve yourself and learn as much as possible. Most importantly enjoy what you are doing.

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