A Quick Contemplation on Comparison

Posted in Personal, Writer Life by

Comparison is the thief of joy.
Theodore Roosevelt

Since I’ve started putting so much of my time and energy into writing, running my distro, and doing things that make me happy, I’ve felt so much better about…everything. I’m writing and mailing out more zines than ever, it seems, and I’m getting so much support and enthusiasm from everyone around me. I’m not boxed in by routine but still producing so much great stuff every day.ย Life feels great.

Why, then, is it still so easy for me to look at the life and work–the Instagram, the writer’s website, the published works list–of a woman I went to college with four years ago and have barely spoken to since and get so down on myself? When I look at her posts, it suddenly feels as if I’m not doing enough or not doing things “right.”

The list of questions that run through my head looks something like this:

Am I less legitimate in my work if I’m not submitting all the time? If I don’t have a list of links to web publications who have accepted me, then am I really doing anything worth bragging about? Should I be spending less time posting and even more time writing? Should I be writing different things? Why don’t I have as many followers as she does? What am I doing wrong? Am I not (cute, quirky, smart, stylish, etc.) enough?

All of this occurs in a matter of seconds, of course.

It gets my head all muddled, and I start to feel like what I want is wrong or isn’t what I really want. I wouldn’t call it jealousy because I like that she’s doing well–I want us both to be successful–but it’s also far from confident or secure. I just can’t help wondering if that’s what I should be doing; maybe there is a right way to go about this writer thing.

It’s confusion and self-doubt, and I’d like to think it will go away with time and more hard work, but I know there’s almost no chance of that happening for good. If it does, then I’ve probably gotten overly confident in myself and turned into an asshole. We don’t want that to happen.

In between all of the good days, the ones when I get compliments from friends and strangers who have just finished reading a new zine they got from me or the ones when I’m justย happy, there will still be the ones when I’m asking myself if I’m doing this right or why things seem so different for me compared to others doing this. While it gets old and depressing, maybe it’s not the worst thing. Maybe it keeps me on my toes, self-evaluating and evolving over time as we all do (and should).

It’s a bummer to think that maybe someone is doing it better and to know it’s not worth fretting about but being unable to stop yourself.

What do you do when you get down like this? Let’s chat about it and lift each other’s spirits!

March 17, 2017
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  • I am so with you on this! I’m getting better at photography every day and yet I look at other people’s bookstagram photos and see how amazing they are and how many followers they have and think that I’m doing something wrong. I read a book and the writing is so much better than my own and I think that I’ll never be a published author. Comparison is the absolute worst, but honestly it’s also good in a way. It makes us want to keep reaching, keep wanting to be better, keep pushing ourselves! So keep making great things, Sonya!

    • Exactly! And thank you! Honestly, your bookstagram photos are some of my favorites, so it can definitely be important to remember that usually we’re harder on ourselves than the people around us too.

      • Thank you so much! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜˜ Yes, we’re harder on ourselves than others are. And I adore your photos too!!!

        • Aww, thank you! <3

  • Kay

    Seriously, sometimes it’s like you just write the thoughts in my brain. THIS IS MY LIFE WITH ART. Comparison is so tough. IG is filled with artists often ten years younger than myself who are MILES ahead of me in all areas. But we carry on! Sometimes my brain uses it as motivation to be better, which is great. And on those days where it just makes me want to lie on the couch and sulk about it, well, sometimes that’s okay too. I hope you never let it keep you from writing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I definitely try to take it as motivation more than anything, but it can definitely make me take a day or two on the couch. I think as long as we keep going, those days off are fine (and sometimes even necessary to rework our perspective).

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