I’ve been comparing myself to others, recently.
How I’ve been sitting at home writing stories, which earn less money per hour than I pay my help.
How my stories take so long to take shape, and how others seem to produce so many, so fast.
How untalented I am, compared to the hordes who are doing something tangible with their lives instead of living in their heads.
So this post from Mary J Melange comes at the right time for me, when I’m hitting a new low in terms of self-doubt as a writer.
Oh, I’m continuing to write, edit, and the words still keep coming, BUT.
So this excerpt fromm the post got me:
I have been slow to realize that making these types of comparisons only damages self-worth, it does not lift one up. Unhealthy comparisons can exacerbate one of two negatives: 1) They can deeply hurt our self-worth and self-esteem, or 2) they can drive us to do anything to get what we want; we’re willing to step over people and take prisoners at any cost.
I’m going to stop comparing myself to others– stop being so vulnerable to self-doubt.
I would recommend this post to everyone– it is long, but it is worth every minute you would spend on it. Promise.
Do you compare yourself to others? Do posts on social media from your friends lead you to think that they have it easier than you? Do you find yourself growing depressed and negative about your own abilities in comparison?
Unfortunately, we cannot escape the successes of others, at least here in America where success is celebrated in a very big way. If, as a writer, you write a bestseller that makes millions, that success ends up affecting how the publisher of that bestseller and all agents respond to queries from writers going forward. Everyone looks for the next book like the bestseller because they KNOW that’s what sells. But that never lasts long, usually. Unfortunately, another bestseller takes the place of the first…..
I’m often dismayed that I don’t produce far more fiction. I have to remind myself that I write a LOT every week, it’s just not fiction. My role model is Virginia Woolf even as I’m intensely jealous of her because she had a housekeeper and cook, and a husband that took care of business concerns. She had far, far more time to write than I have, and technology had still not progressed into the social media of today. But I continue to write, to work on as much as my energy and schedule allow, and reason that I may have more time in the future. Right now, I need to make good use of the time I have…..
I never compare myself to others. We are all unique, and we will always have our moments of doubt as writers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because we feel someone else is better. I love the post you attached here. My book Words We Carry is all about conquering my own low self-esteem. We all have the power within us, some of us just need a helping hand. 🙂
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Totally identify with this post. I still compare, but not as much as before. It’s better to be who I am, where I am in life, and appreciate others for what they have accomplished through hard work.
Read the article and very insightful. I’m not one for comparing myself with others, but I judge myself a lot (far too much!) by my own standards. Maybe though those standards have surreptitiously been implanted by looking at the outside world??? There is perhaps something positive about comparing yourself to others because doing so can inspire you to push boundaries. I think it’s just keeping it in balance, doing something just to be better than someone and bring them down is a wrong motive, but it can lend itself to self-growth as long as things like pride and envy are kept out of it all and it all stays on a humble level.
I do from time to time, especially with former writing colleagues of mine when I see the output they have compared to mine. Even had some unfriend me on FB because of it. Whenever it happens, I usually disappear from FB for a few days, mostly to get myself properly situated mentally and partially because I know that I don’t have gobs of time to exclusively devote to writing like a good chunk of them do, so I should stop comparing myself to them.
I’ve read several version of this topic – especially as it relates to blogs. I’m always open to hearing something new on the subject.
Thanks for sharing this, Damyanti. Mary is correct in her assessment of comparisons. When I was younger, I fell into that same trap.. Thankfully, I pulled myself up out of it. You can do it too. Glad you’ve decided to take Mary’s advice. Hugs, my friend.
It’s human nature to want to compare ourselves to those around us and other people. Yet all that does is cause grief at one point or another and rob us of our happiness
I do all the time. I am trying to build my readership and am unhappy with my stats. I see others with such larger stats. Plus, I want to write books, but how do you write books, blog, and work on building an audience. I barely can blog daily. What do you think? Please start sharing with us at Literacy Musing Mondays. I know we’ve been following each other for awhile. I hope you will join our community. You can link up weekly three posts related to literacy, book reviews, reflections, posts about learning, etc. Thanks.
We are also looking for guest posts on why literacy is important or reflections on reading, writing, or learning. Thanks.
Damyanti, comparisons can help providing they are tinged with admiration not self-doubt or envy. The latter is destructive. The former helps you emulate and develop, no?
Mine doesn’t bring envy, but definitely a lot of self-doubt. I’m try to breathe, and be in the moment, whenever that happens. I think I find writing very easy and very difficult at the same time 🙂 — and no, emulation doesn’t help at all!
Of course I do, it’s hard not to, and then I say, well damn it. I’m just me, I do what I do, and I’m never going to satisfy the other person, so I work to satisfy me Perfectionism is a curse, but while I work toward it, I’ll never achieve it. So I move on, and write what I want to write. I challenge myself. I do my best and in the end, I’m just me, and I kind of like me. I like you too!
Awww, Yolanda, I like you, too!
Comparing ourselves to other is wrong and can damage the self. I did it for long and then stopped, altogether. I shall read it soon:)
Thanks for commenting on Mary’s post as well, Vishal. I appreciate the effort and love that her excellent post received a few extra readers 🙂
I know exactly how you feel about this on the writing front. I’m a “slow” writer; no matter how focused I am, I’m lucky if I can write 1,000 words in one sitting, let alone 1 hour. So it’s painfully discouraging to see someone tweet writing stats that are way beyond my “speed.” But I’ve learned – well, I’m still reminding myself – that everyone’s process is different, and that I know what a good writing session is for me. And when I measure milestones and success by my own standards, I feel better about myself as a writer.
We need more reminders like this out there. I’m going to check out the full article now, but thanks for sharing it with us, Damyanti. 🙂
You’re welcome. I needed this reminder too, and in serendipity, mary provided it. her article is really worth every minute you spend reading it.
I am definitely guilty of comparing myself to others. Awesome post, thank you for sharing.
I use to .. But I don’t any more because I am who I am .. the way I am and my friends and those who love me … like me the way I am ..
This used to be a chronic problem for me. I’m now happier in my own skin. Was it Oscar Wilde who said: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” 🙂
I don’t, I know there are people who are lot more skilled than me, or better, I don’t mind, I am glad with what I am, even though I try to improve myself every day, I just try to make a better version of me 🙂
A thought provoking and helpful post Damyanti 🙂 In this competitive world, the self-soothing behaviours will let us slow down in the race. But, when we come across something we are lack of, like a talent or any possessed thing our thoughts moves on to them who are showing-off. It may enter into our mind and cause damage. The best thing here one can do is to stay happy in what we got and investing more to learn.
Thank you for sharing this post, it is a need :):)
The only reason to look at the talents of others is to learn from them rather than be destroyed in the comparison. I’m indebted to so many people around the world who’ve mentored me and given me the satisfaction of incremental achievement. People these days seem to think they need to start at the top and they become discouraged when they find themselves out of their depth or with nothing further to achieve. There’s nothing more satisfying than to start at the bottom and drink in all the knowledge you can over time. There’s no end to knowledge or the satisfaction of discovering new things each day. So set goals high and measure yourself against your goals rather than other people. You’ll delight in your achievements and if there’s a temporary reversal keep the goal in view and move on. By all means grasp lessons to be learned from the experience of others but never try to be them, be yourself. I think you’ve got talent. Recognize that.
monkey compare self only with creature what have it not so good as monkey. this promote gratitude & calmness.
It’s a terrible mindset to get into -comparing yourself to others and can be destructive. Great post and the subject should be discussed more!
You can be your own toughest critic–no need for demoralizing words from the outside.
But sometimes it’s hard to know even who to compare yourself to. There are practically limitless niches and within each a panoply of skill and experience.
I have this quote by Theodore Roosevelt on one of my Pinterest boards: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So true. Excellent post!
We are in a world where we are judged by the money we make. Yes like you I too don’t make much money by selling my novels. But there is a joy I get which cannot be measure by money and I am willing to pay a price for that!! But I guess we go thru the self-doubt stage constantly. Thanks for the reminder!
I’m glad you saw Mary’s post, Damyanti, if you’ve been doubting yourself in comparison to others. It is an unhealthy habit we all work to avoid, and I remind myself of that often! We find our niche, our pace, what works fir us. That is what matters. Hugs!
I’ve compared myself, but I know better. It’s never helped me, so I do my best to change my thinking and be proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Great post. I agree with all the comments! Comparing oneself to another or others has an intrinsic judgmental aspect doesn’t it? I still get caught up in the–my narrative is just as good as that one–inner-argument. I’ll sit there and fume a bit and voila! No writing gets done. When I get back on track, I suddenly see issues with my own story, shoo the ego out the door, and get to work! Thanks for helping me stay balanced!
Thank you for sharing these thoughts. We all go through these phrases, i think it is unavoidable sometimes, we end up comparing and being depressed about it later.
I almost never compare, but yes, there are times when I feel the competition. No, I wouldn’t want anything to bring down my confidence; it only spurs me on, faster and perhaps not the best thing to do without taking my abilities into consideration.
Comparison with others does not bring anything that can be called fruitful. On the other hand, it brings a type of suffering.
I’ve fallen into that particular trap on more than one occasion. It’s easy to lambast yourself for your perceived nonproductivity when it seems that others are cranking out prose at Warp Speed. The thing is that we all operate using different speeds, different techniques, and vastly different perspectives. The Key to me is to put all that aside and focus on You. No one can do what you do the same way you do. Love this post. 🙂
If any comparison is warranted as a writer, it is comparing your current work to that of your past efforts.
Like any athlete or professional, growth is inherent in the practice of your skill — almost unavoidable.
Here’s one nice thing about that as well: even the early work can be rewritten and reworked to bring it to new levels. We have the luxury that our work is not carved in stone, and is still fluid and malleable. I often find myself, for example, honing and reworking prose and poetry that I thought was finished.
James A. Michener wrote, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” Ah, an encouragement to the diligent!
Perhaps you are not as good as other writers at the top of the heap. Who cares? Generally the very successful have fallen into their own traps — like formula writing based on their first hit. Any artist hits the ceiling at some point. The basement, as well. It’s what you do in the living spaces of your writing house in between those extremes that counts most.
So, as they used to say in the 70s — Write on!
Love that James A. Michener quote.
I think comparing yourself to others is almost a crime. You’re torturing yourself for the standards built by someone else, built for someone else. If we cannot cherish ourselves and love what we are, who we are, our very existence would seem to exist. Of course, a desire to turn into anyone else, is murdering your own soul. A Murder. A Crime.
I am glad you shared this.
We should not compare ourselves with others as each and everyone under the sun is unique and is gifted with rare and special talents…!
Socialization is how we became adults as children studying how our peers conducted themselves. The animal that stands out from the herd becomes prey either to a predator or the rest of the herd.
Yet as we grow, we have to walk a fine line of conforming to the norm balanced against living an authentic life. In the end, we truly only can compete against ourselves because we do not know the totality of anyone else’s life and what appears to be a success comes at a cost so terrible it could rightly be called a failure. Fascinating post as always.
We all do to a degree, but you’re right, it’s not healthy. Just makes us feel bad.
Got me thinking about the Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Good read and good reminder. Thanks.
I would call the act of comparing myself to others a disease. Luckily, we have the choice on whether or not it’s chronic.
I’m now comparing myself to you and your ability to make *any* money off stories! But seriously, great piece. Important for all who are creative.
Helped me a lot. thanks for posting. 🙂
Btw this post was also amazing