3.12.2012

Comparison


To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

 ~E.E Cummings

Yes, I know we've discussed the topic of comparison before (start here if you'd like), but I think it's an important message that needs to be revisited often in a world where we are constantly bombarded with great ideas, inspiration and a knowledge (albeit edited) of what everyone else is doing...all the time.  It's easy to get sucked into the unhealthy mindset of always thinking about others' status updates and then comparing those with our own lives.  Sometimes we find ourselves feeling like less capable, less talented and less interesting people.  This is when it's a good time to take a deep breath and contemplate the beauty of different (Karen talks a lot about this on her blog).  We are all on different paths and experiencing a completely different combination of circumstances.  Why is it so easy to forget that, even as grown adults?

One thing I know to be true is this...no one has it all.  No one does it all.  There is always something being given up, but often we don't see that.  We only see the exciting adventures being shared, the cute outfits, the well dressed children, the financial success, the fabulous and frequent vacations, the pretty websites, the gorgeous apartment, the amazing DIY projects, etc.  What we don't see is so much more reflective of a person's "real" life and those things are typically kept private for good reason.  Most people prefer to keep difficult circumstances, trials, challenges and issues to themselves as they quietly seek to work through them the best they can.  I love the quote, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" (source). 

I shot images of ranoculus for this post because they are not only gorgeous, little things but they are also layered.  In fact, that is what makes them so beautiful to me, the papery thin layers that together create a flower that many deem the loveliest of them all (I may be one of those people...).  Think of all the layers within yourself that together create the unique person that you are.  There is absolutely no reason to ever think you are anything but beautiful and talented in your own way; regardless of what you may view on websites, blogs or Facebook.  As Joslyn so wisely said at ALT, "there is room for everyone to experience success", i.e. there is no reason to be jealous or to compare.  I wholeheartedly believe Joslyn's words to be true, both online and in real life--the latter being the most important of all. 

{more words on this sensitive issue here, herehere and here}

And with that, I wish you a very happy day!

images by me 

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38 comments:

jen byard said...

Well said Stephanie! I especially love your ranoculus analogy. My favorite blogs really convey this spirit, and that is why I love to read them. Yours it at the top of my list!

Reb said...

Very beautifully written Steph and so so true. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Thanks Stephanie, I needed that post.
I'm buying myself ranoculus today.
A mom in NY

Nicole Franzen// La Buena Vida said...

lovely post, and oh so true. Sometimes we all need to take a step back. Ive found the blogger world a tad bit gossipy lately and as though I was revisiting high school. I needed to step back and actually focus on what I love and work on my skill. You cant compare yourself to others. Nice to hear :) x N

yours truly said...

I love your words Stephanie. I'm taking the fact that I just bought Ranoculus yesterday as sign that I need to remember this post, always (it's weird because I've never bought them before). I try to tell myself, because I seem to struggle more with wishing for the future too much instead of comparing to others, that there is a season for everything. It seems to help me keep things in perspective.

Nora said...

This is wonderful! I posted something so similar on my blog yesterday--how funny that our thoughts collided in such a nice way. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
xoxo
noraballantyne.blogspot.com

Mary said...

Beautiful post, as always. It has taken me some time, but I feel like I'm able to stop comparing myself to others, especially in this blog world. Reminders like these help. Thanks!

sws said...

Beautiful post Stephanie, thanks for the reminder.

kathy said...

I agree with the first comment. You are at the top of my blog list, which is quite short. The essence of this post is something I find endearing about you and so important to me. Have a beautiful day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Especially in this still struggling economy I think many of us feel like we are somehow missing the bus when we read some blogs. We think where did we go wrong? Good reminder!

kalanicut said...

It wouldn't be too often if you wrote about this topic every week. (Smile). So hard to remember sometimes, especially when things are hard. Thank you so much for your encouragement and sweet reminders!

I recently received some very well meaning but unsolicited advice and had to recognize that this person only saw 1% of the problem and in her eyes her simple solutions made complete sense.

To me the advice was rather offensive as it stepped all over some pretty private issues and situations she had absolutely no idea about.

That is one of the biggest lessons I have learned of late, we never truly know what other people are going through and we have to be very careful not to assume or oversimplify for their sake and as you described, very often for our own sake.

Lovely Lindsay said...

wise words.
thanks,
lindsay

rachel @ blackeiffel said...

Nice shot Steph, gorgeous!

Emily @ Peck Life said...

ranoculus is one of my favorite flowers for that very reason. such a wonderful post, thank you for the reminder. :)

willowday said...

Nice post. Beautiful photo and I'm so sad that your beautiful site would ever have to face this issue. ... You present such a well polished site, I wish you could only attract those who want to come to be "nourished." It's inspiring. Whether you manage to never have a dust ball: I say more power to you or if you are like many other creatives: talented at finding, appreciating and sharing beauty -- I commend you both ways.
Living abroad, I love to think of only the best aspects of the US, the country I was raised in and I am always telling people that it's a place where we're all happy for each other's success; we get excited when we another succeed -- there's room for everyone in the US. (and I love the quote from Joslyn) And then, am also reminded of a friend's wise mother who has a quote: 98% of the people you know are glad that you have your problems and the other 2% don't care. It was told in fun; however, many truths are told in jest. Jealousy hurts so many people. I couldn't agree more: "there is room for everyone to experience success."

onesilentwinter said...

very well written stephanie. i have struggled with that a bit and have spoken with many who have felt the same.

i think there is a balance from being inspired by ones blog to envious. i have stopped visiting blogs that make me feel bad, yet of course not because they try but because i have not felt full in mine. i have successfully been able to revisit some of them with new eyes, appreciating what they have put forward. it think what has been rewarding for me is to connect with the people who visit mine, get to know them more than just the comment.

Liz said...

yay for this! love the quote: "be yourself: everyone else is taken." (source unknown).
soooo true. people have NO IDEA what we all personally battle with. some of us are more open with our struggles and some more private. thanks for the reminder.
i think it helps me take breaks from online stuff sometimes. i just was off Facebook for a few months and enjoyed NOT knowing what anyone was doing.
little reminders like that are great.
SO great to see your cute face saturday. hopefully your afternoon went well sans the huz. :)
xo

patternoflife said...

Comparison has been on my mind too lately (I even did a post about it last Friday!) My favorite quote:

Comparison is the thief of joy. Teddy Roosevelt.

Thanks for the reminder -- again!

Martha said...

always a great reminder. always. love your photo, too.

Stephanie said...

Oh man, I wish I hadn't been away from the computer all day...so many great comments to respond to...

Jen & Kathy, thank you for including me on your list! I appreciate that so much.

Reb, you are always a great sounding board...thank you!

Anon, I am glad this helped you in some way. Enjoy your ranoculus all week long!

Nicole, I have to agree with you here. I've stepped back myself...stopped following people that seem superficial and gossipy. No one needs that in their life.

Yours Truly/Chelsea, that is a good point too. Glad you brought that up! And how fun you bought them too...Trader Joes?!

Nora, Mary, Sarah, thank you!

Anon 2, I think it's normal to think that...then we have to realize that it's simply what they are putting forth. Maybe not the whole picture. Hopefully no one is going into f inancial ruin just to have a stylish blog!

Lindsay, Rachel, Emily, thank you!

Kalani, thank you for sharing that perspective and experience. I'm not sure exactly what you mean (as I'm not privy to your personal info) but I am sorry that happened and I will remember your words the next time I offer advice to anyone! So true what you said.

Willowday...wow. Do you really think it's that bad? I wonder though. It seems that true friends that are genuinely happy for you are tougher to find. There have been times that I thought I found one, but then alas, those yucky feelings start showing themselves. So disappointing.

Onesilentwinter/Nadia, I know just what you mean. I think we've all had to do that at one time or another. The key is to notice when it's happening and then regroup before looking again!

Liz, yes I know what you mean about FB. I miss the days when people just phoned when they wanted to know what was up!

Patternof life, wow, we are on the same page! That's so random.

Martha, thank you for hte note, as always :)

Estelle Hayes said...

Such an important message that deserve revisiting on a regular basis. Maybe we could all band together and do a quarterly post on this very topic! We all need that quiet reminder that there is and will always be enough room for all of us to thrive. Very wise words indeed. Thanks for bringing all of this to light again.

la la Lovely said...

Such a great post and always a much needed reminder! Thanks for your sharing your thoughts and well written words. And...you shared two of my fave quotes!
xo . trina

holly said...

Thank you for this post. We all need little reminders now and then to help us put things back into perspective. At least, I know I do. I also love this photograph -- today is my birthday and these lovely flowers take me back to the first time my husband (then-boyfriend) gave me 10 little vases full of gorgeous ranoculus for my special day. They've been "our flower" ever since. Thanks for sharing.

Stephanie said...

Estelle, it seems that I typically post about this subject twice a year...I wonder if that will ever change?!

La La Lovely, well, who would've thunk? They are great quotes...you're right!

Holly, that is so sweet and romantic. I'm so happy you enjoy that memory! And what a lovely tradition you've now started. So great.

Sheryl said...

Thank you for these true and inspiring words!

Teresa said...

no need to explain the importance of this topic. i appreciate the fact that you share your thoughts on this often. i left facebook partially due to the information overload, but also wanting more of a "real" conversations with the people that are closest to me rather than just the highlights or attention getters. blogs are fun and inspiring when the blogger is willing to share the ups and the downs, the successes and the learning experiences. those to me are the most interesting. and lots of pretty pictures.

Anonymous said...

I've been a silent reader of your blog for sometime now. But after reading this post, I didn't want to be quiet anymore. Thank you for the kind/wise words. I often suffer from this and although I always manage to get myself out of it, it's something that needs to be hammered into people's heads. Just relax and be grateful for what you have and you'll be much happier, right? =)
-Aye

Shannon { A Mom's Year } said...

I know everything you wrote is true, but it doesn't always feel true! I've been feeling glum about the fact that my much-anticipated redecoration of the girls' room isn't working out quite as I'd hoped. So many gorgeous homes are featured on blogs and I keep thinking, "How do they make everything look so intentional and on-purpose?"

In non-decorating situations, a phrase that helps me a lot is "Never compare your insides to someone else's outsides."

Stephanie said...

Sheryl, you are welcome. Thank you for popping in to leave a comment.

Teresa, I can relate...I'd rather do the same. I often wonder what kind of effect these short, surface-level exchanges will have on our society over time. And on our psyches. Will anyone know how to have a conversation in 10 or 20 years? It's interesting (and somewhat frightening) to think about...

Anon, I appreciate you reaching out and sharing. Thank you for doing that! We all have to knock it into our heads...it's not just you :)

Shannon, I feel the same way as you. I jsut keep looking, and analyzing, and then look some more. I find that flipping through design magazines and the inspiration binder I've compiled over the years helps a lot. When I'm at a stand still decorating-wise, I'll often call in a friend for honest advice. Remember, every room is a work in progress and it takes time to find the right pieces for the right price. At least this is how I feel most times!

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

great post - and so true!

anna said...

Great post. You are so good at reminding everyone of this important topic.

My wise midwife said: everytime you say yes to something you are saying no to something else.

I always keep that in mind in my own life - if I say yes to hosting that party I am probably saying no to some time spent playing with my kids. Or people on blogs that have big fancy careers are saying no to other things in their lives. I just always try to say yes to things that matter.

vanessa said...

I really loved this line.

Most people prefer to keep difficult circumstances, trials, challenges and issues to themselves as they quietly seek to work through them the best they can.

Sometimes I don't understand why people can't respect this in the blog world. It frustrates me.

vanessa said...

The problem I seem to have is comparing....or feeling jealous of people's relationships online. Meaning different blogger groups. I have so many bloggers that won't follow me on twitter, respond to emails, say hello at event. But email me asking for help, tips or to ask me a favor. Makes me feel like I am in high school all over again and once again I'm not in the "cool" club. Which has led me to really pull away from the blog world and making friendships with bloggers to be honest. Great post, it is making me think quite a bit!

Emily said...

Love this. If only we women were better at collaboration rather than competition... *sigh* I always need these reminders, so thank you.

Stephanie said...

Anna, yes, you nailed it on the head. That is precisely what I am trying to convey. You're one step ahead!

Vanessa, I know what you mean. It does feel like hs sometimes. That is why it's so important to foster real life friendships as often those are the deeper relationships in our lives. Of course there are exceptions, and I feel a sincere closeness and bond with a few bloggers. But overall, it does feel like a popularity contest and we are n't all invited. I try not to take it personally and focus on people who are genuine. They deserve my energy, thoughts, good vibes, prayers and attention.

Jaime {sophistimom} said...

Well said, Stephanie. I am always finding myself taking a step back from blogging, whether it's a couple days a week, or for longer stints of time here and there. It gives me a chance to separate myself from any temptation to compare. Of course, then I'm not blogging during that time, and feel frustrated when I return and see others' blogs, and think, "Ugh! If only I would put in the time like so-and-so does for her blog, THEN I'd be successful!"

I think I will live by the words of Anna's midwife.

And I love your beautiful ranunculus shot.

Tracey Ayton Photography said...

Oh Steph, it's amazing that I found this today. I'm always visiting you but it's incredible the timing on this as I was having those little insecurities popping up in my mind today. Agh! Thank you.

Stephanie said...

Tracey, we all have those moments! I'm glad you found this helpful :) You are amazing!

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