A lesson I am continually learning (and re-learning) is that comparing myself to others is not helpful or healthy. I am convinced that no one wins in the comparison game. I don’t win—I either come out feeling worse about myself or feeling better than someone else. I willingly trade in my compassion (for both myself and the other person) and replace it with insecure competition. The humanity is gone. This is not a wise business deal. Yet I keep going to back to it. Learning my lesson over and over.
One area that I especially struggle with is social media. In areas, I am already feeling a little less than on any given day (as a mom, writer, my physical appearance) become sources of comparison. I compare my skewed opinions of myself against the curated material and highlights of friends or strangers on the internet. It’s crazy. Staged pictures and created content can’t compare with the goodness of real life. I am working on celebrating other’s victories without comparison. Their success doesn’t equal my failure. There is room for everyone.
God has made me beautifully and uniquely, in His own perfect image. When I am unable to see this it doesn’t serve anyone well. I have heard my daughters already learning this truth—that comparison is a losing game. And when I hear them process this out loud, about all the greatness they see in others and all the shortcomings they see in themselves I want to shake them and remind them who they are. And Whose they are. I want to remind them they are loved beyond measure and I want to tell them all the goodness and beauty I see in them until I am blue in the face. I imagine this is how God feels when we begin to look around rather than looking at God and appreciating ourselves.
A few things I have learned:
1. Going on social media isn’t relaxing. This used to be my excuse “I just want to relax/zone out/catch up for a couple minutes.” Thirty minutes later I am usually feeling worse than I did before. Certainly, this is not always the case, but if I am looking to relax there are better ways to do it like reading or taking an actual nap.
2. If I am feeling tender social media doesn’t help. If I am having a difficult day or feeling a little extra sensitive, social media isn’t the best investment of my time and energy. I would be much better off to spend some time reading, praying or writing about what is going on, rather than simply looking for a distraction.
3. I am being sold something. I know there are actual, literal ads on social media. Those are easy to identify. But pretty much every image/post is created with a goal in mind, some are from major influencers trying to move product due to a business partnership and some images are just normal people putting their best foot forward. Either way, working through all of this can be very tricky and taxing. And one of the first and oldest rules of marketing is to create a need or problem and then sell the solution. Think about that for a second. We have to know that this is not real life, even though it seems like it.
So what does this mean for us as we move forward as we work to stay far away from the comparison trap?
1. Let’s cheer each other and ourselves on. Rather than trying to compete, let’s just enjoy the game we were meant to play. Let’s be women who are secure enough with who God made us to be, women that can celebrate the gifts and talents of others without feeling threatened or less than.
2. Let’s invest in our real life. What if we were women who loved those God has given us to love, and we didn’t worry about posting our successes to keep up or gain followers or anything else? What if decided that we want to see God’s kingdom breakthrough in our everyday lives and we worked on making that a reality? I love the idea of making the people in front of us a priority and giving the people behind the screen a little space.
3. Let’s keep perspective. Social media is a fairly new thing, the comparison is not. This has been going on since Adam and Eve left the garden. Social media is not evil or even the problem. Our humanity and brokenness are what causes the issue. When we believe that our worth can be found in the likes and accolades of this world. As long as we are chasing fleeting approval we will be frustrated. But when we remember who we are and whose we are, we are able to gain some valuable perspective… an eternal perspective.