The other day, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, checking out people’s pictures of food, fitness, and life. I caught myself doing what I suspect all of of us have done at any given time: Comparing. It was disappointing and discouraging. It made me wish I’d never opened up my social media at all. Imagine thinking you were having a great day, until you realized everyone else was having a PERFECT day!
Comparing yourself to others never used to be such a big deal, but in the age of incessant social media, I think it’s become much worse of an issue. I consider myself to be a well-adjusted, confident person, but in the past 30 days, I’ve been guilty of the following comparisons. I think it’s important we get these out in the open, because I know for a fact I’m not the only one who’s experienced these things. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Blogging, and who knows what else (literally, do you know? Those are the only social media apps I know), how many of you have caught yourselves in these scenarios?
1) Everyone is faster than me
Perception: I am slow. Every other runner is way faster than me and my slowness is so lame I can barely call myself a runner.
Reality: Yes, many people are much faster than me. But why am I focusing on that? There were two things I needed to think about to get me out of my “slow runner” funk. First, I am apparently exactly as fast as the average American female runner. I recently read that the average pace is 10 minute miles, which is about how fast I run. Second, I reminded myself of why I run in the first place. It’s not for speed and it’s not for distance.
I stopped tracking my runs a long time ago, actually. I don’t run to be fast and I don’t run to run far. I run to feel my lungs and heart work, to feel a breeze, to feel my legs, to feel alive. I run to get a break from work and stress. To listen to music and feel my feet pound the pavement/treadmill in time to awesome music. None of those things require a GPS watch or a comparison chart.
2) Everyone is healthier than me
Perception: I am a fraud. I write a blog about healthy living one second, but another I’m literally watching Instagram videos of people making hemp/berry/protein smoothies while I eat BBQ chips out of the bag on my recliner.
Reality: Ok, yes, Kelly you should probably put down the chips. Seriously, though, “healthy” eating means something different for everyone. There are times I feel guilty about the fact that I’m not a vegan. Or that I eat carbs. Or that I don’t cook everything I eat from scratch. Or that I often forget to bring my reusable grocery bags to the store and have to use plastic. Or that I drink a lot of wine (scratch that, I don’t really feel bad about that one).
I don’t believe in restriction, however. A healthy diet, for ME means eating veggies, drinking green juice, buying organic whenever possible, and focusing on putting good in vs. taking out the “bad.” It also means that sometimes I eat Pringles out of the can. Or I eat the Harris Teeter mac & cheese from the prepared foods section. Which is, coincidentally, the greatest mac & cheese I’ve ever eaten.
Healthy eating is important, but I refuse to give food that much power over my life. I’ve had my moments where I felt incredibly guilty over something “bad” I ate and I don’t want to do it anymore. I will keep striving for improvements in my diet. I will continue to make incremental progress towards a more wholesome lifestyle. What I WON’T do is attach some kind of value system that equates eating a “bad” food with being a “bad” person.
3) Everyone is having more fun than me
Perception: Other people are apparently able to work all day (for themselves, from home, in their workout clothes, of course), then go out drinking all night and never get a hangover. They also have 8 million friends, the BEST relationship in the world, granite countertops/gorgeous reclaimed hardwood floors, and infinite money for concert tickets to Beyonce/Taylor Swift/other famous people. The closest I’ve come is re-living my tween days by taking a picture with Nick Lachey at their “don’t call it a comeback” comeback tour.
Reality: My life is pretty damn awesome. In the next few months I’ll spend a week in Paris and buy a house. Riley and I will surprise each other with romantic gestures, laugh together, and continue to focus on our marriage. I’ll explore my amazing town, hang out with friends, and work in a job that I absolutely love.
You know what will also happen? Riley and I will spend hours watching our own forms of entertainment on opposite sides of the room because I don’t watch sports and he doesn’t watch Vampire Diaries. I will stop short of growling at him when he turns on the TV before 9 AM and he’ll be annoyed with how annoyed I am. We will be in our pajamas by 7 PM on a Friday night because we’re lazy. I’ll spend hours at work staring at Excel spreadsheets, fiddling with Adobe Pro, solving problems, and doing nothing exciting. I’ll sit in traffic for 55 minutes and drop the “F” bomb approximately 34 times. I’ll hit snooze instead of going to the gym. I’ll look at my healthy prepared lunch of cauliflower rice/chicken, say “screw it,” and go out with a co-worker for pizza instead. I’ll have a great blog post idea, then I’ll get home and the last thing I’ll want to do is open my laptop. So I’ll drink wine and watch Fixer Upper with Riley.
Life isn’t a series of carefully filtered Instagram photos. It isn’t the perfectly crafted Facebook post, or perfectly hash-tagged tweet. Life is what happens when we set down our phones, our laptops, or tablets, and start focusing on the people around us.
My life is far from perfect, but I choose to focus on the positives, and I can only hope that my blog reflects that reality, both good and bad. I think many of us like reading blogs because they feel just a bit more “real” than other forms of social media. So, with of all of that said, I hope to continue to share the great moments in my life, but also the disappointing/shitty/are-you-kidding-me? moments that inevitably fill our lives on a daily basis. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading, whether you’re a regular reader or a sporadic one. Now excuse me while I go pour my third glass of wine and watch House Hunters before turning in at 9:30. I plan on going to the gym in the morning, but there’s a good chance that I just won’t feel like it.
How do you break out of the comparison trap?