I’m going to say this for anyone who needs to hear it: there is always going to be someone better than you, prettier than you, smarter than you, and more famous than you. You could feel like you’re producing the best content, the best art, or generally trying your best, and someone will always do it better, or have a greater audience. It fucking sucks. We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. I think the invention of social media increased this by ten fold, but even without endlessly scrolling at people’s lives being better than ours, we do it in real life too. I’m 100% guilty of seeing other women and thinking “I wish I had their body.” Every day. Several times a day. I wish I had the privilege of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. My body and skin do not react well to that anymore. If I eat refined sugar, my face breaks out. If I go out to dinner and eat something outside of my daily diet, I typically gain 3-5 lbs for the next few days. That doesn’t sound like much, but when I do it once a week, it adds up. I don’t understand how, I follow a very strict diet and exercise routine. I understand these things are about balance, but how much more balanced can I get from strategically weighing everything I consume to having one blessed cheat day a week where I eat as I please and then gain unwanted weight over time? And then I see other women my size or smaller doing only yoga and eating croissants, donuts, cake, pasta, and pizza on Instagram and feel like shit about myself because I don’t get those pleasures.
Comparison is a real bitch. If it’s not about body image it’s about something else: traveling, clothes, money, relationships, etc.. I’m usually pretty self-absorbed and confident enough to know that my journey is different from someone else’s… but lately I’m really struggling with the comparison demon. When my boyfriend and I are fighting and I get on Instagram and see girls posting ever-so-happy videos of them with their boyfriends, I feel like a sinking stone. I want to cover my head with a hoodie and just sink into my couch and wallow in sorrow. On bad body image days, I log on and see girls in bikinis and I feel like shit because I am bloated or just not confident in my body. Even on good body image days, I’ll sign on and see someone that still has a nicer body than me and just immediately feel like garbage. On the contrary, if I am confident in my body and relationship, then I log on and see girls who I had more followers than have more than me, or have the job I want, or travel to the country I want to go, or move to the city I want to be in… and the cycle starts over.
So what do we do to channel this energy and how do we get rid of it? I’m working on that, too. Right now, I try to just focus on myself. When I feel triggered by something, I ask myself why I feel triggered. Then I try to remember that if I want it, I need to work for it. For instance, if I get upset seeing someone travelling to Europe.. I use that as inspiration to save my money so I can go, too (when the world reopens). When I see someone with a “better body” that is in my perception of beauty standards I set for myself… I remind myself that my body is healing. I’ll get there some day.
Body image is a whole different topic I’ll need to discuss here at some point. *TRIGGER WARNING* For a quick rundown, I didn’t get my period for two years after I got off birth control pills. I also dropped 13lbs (intentionally) for bodybuilding. I was a lean machine at 108 lbs. I am 5’6, so the BMI index says I need to be at least 115 to be considered “healthy.” I got my period back when I gained the weight back and I was at 118. Now I’m at 121. A perfectly healthy weight for my body type and size… but I prefer my body leaner.
I work with a coach. I follow a meal plan. I gain and lose weight in a healthy way.. Except right now I’m not losing when I want to be because my hormones are out of whack. Thanks cortisol! The stress and insomnia has finally caught up to me. This is for a different day, but basically my weight is stagnant because my hormones are wonky. It’s frustrating… but my period is back and has been regular for the past four months. I learned how to use a tampon for the first time in my life. It’s been a wild ride.
Anyway.. when I get upset about seeing other bodies I perceive better than mine, I try to remind myself that my body is healing. I also try to remember that everyone has different bodies. I prefer my body leaner, but I follow some curvy women who I envy because their curves are so voluptuous and sexy. But for MY body, I feel I look better leaner. So it’s hard. I am still lean. I’m still a size 0-2 depending on the clothes.. I’m just not a washboard abs lean like I like myself to be. More importantly, I am NOT that year round. So seeing women on IG who *claim to be that lean year round gives me a deep envy I need to tap into. Why can’t I have that? Must be nice… Those thoughts suck. I get it. I don’t really have a solution for anyone, nor myself. I’m sharing with you that I feel it, too. BUT, I go talk to my coach. He reminds me we need to get my hormones under control first. My period is coming back.. I’ve had it four months in a row now.. I am learning patience.
And I am so fucking impatient.
The other bitch affiliated with comparring yourself to others is then feeling like you’re not good enough to even try. There are a few people I follow who are amazing models and influencers and have way more followers than me, yet they’re the same age as me. I went into a dark place about a month ago where I just started saying “What’s the point? They do it better. I’ll never do it as good as them. I’m embarrassed to even try. My work is so embarrissing.” That lasted about a day. I am pretty good at picking myself up off the ground.. but those feelings were scary. Again when that happens, I remind myself that those other people may be better, but they’ve been at it longer. I look at the progress I have made in the past year alone and it inspires me to buck up and keep going.
I think the leading message I am trying to proclaim is when you feel yourself getting jealous or comparing yourself.. Honestly, give yourself the permission to do it. That’s the opposite advice anyone will ever tell you, but hear me out. Do it. Compare yourself. Then use that as FUEL to better yourself. If you see someone you know get the job you want, use that as fuel to do it at the same level or better. That’s the kicker. I’ll see people do cool photo ideas or travel to places… then I get inspired to do it better. How can I do this, too? How can I be like them? And.. how can I do it better? How can I do it differently?
I am a very competitive person, but I don’t want to seem like I am trying to be better than other people. Not by any means. When I say better, I mean better than myself. So let’s say you see someone traveling the country in a van. That’s the life Connor and I want. We envy them, sure, but we also allow ourselves to consume their content and then put together idea boards for how we can do it better for us. Better suited to our needs.
So… instead of using comparison as fuel for feeling down about yourself, use it as fuel to change yourself.