The Comparison Trap
There are some days that, try as you might, you cannot escape being human. And even though you know, logically, that “everybody’s got their somethin”, it’s still easy to fall into that comparison trap.
You know the one. Remember the last time you saw somebody who seemed to have it all? You look at them and all you see is someone who is glamorously pulled together. You gape at how they powerfully balance leading their team, and wowing their clients, and building a business that’s saving the world – all-the-while gracefully navigating raising confident and caring kids, cheering on their significant other, and being a great friend. You can’t help but notice how all this perfection seems to make up the rotating backdrop for their optimistic and uplifting social media posts. How everything they seem to touch oozes with creativity. You suspect they eat carbs without worry, and floss between meals, and never forget a birthday. You imagine their seemingly effortless and joyful existence. And then you compare your life.
You look in the mirror at your uncooperative limp hair. You remember the cat-box you forgot to clean, and your kid’s permission slip you didn’t sign, and the dry cleaning that’s sitting in a heap in your kitchen waiting to be dropped off. You walk into your office that looks like it’s been bombed, and open your in-box that’s over-flowing. You think about the difficult conversation you need to have with your direct report (the third this month), and the one-on-one you have coming up with your boss, and in the throes of overwhelm decide to procrastinate by reading through all the Linkedin posts that leave you wondering what to tackle first – the “Seven Easy Steps to….” or the “Top 10 Reasons You Should…” or “The 3 Mantras to Follow…”.
Why, you think to yourself, do others make it seem so easy?
If you find yourself in the comparison trap, you’re not alone. I’ve not met a person on the planet who hasn’t been there. I go there routinely just to check it out. What I’ve been humbled to learn, after so many years of working with such extraordinary people (and everyone who shows up in my classroom pretty much fits that description), is that we all go there. Titles, and money, and brains, and experience, and credentials, and looks, and stuff – none of it wards off humanity.
And while I’m sure there are multiple tips and solutions I could give you to prevent you from comparing your amazing self to everybody else’s – you’ll still go there. That’s what’s real. Because you’re human. Just remember this (because it helps make the trip shorter) – they all go there too.
It must be the forecast for snow…at the end of March (!) that made me think of this, but this winter, my kiddo got curious about snowflakes. He was fascinated about how each snowflake could be completely different from the others – each unique, yet all beautiful. Together we wondered, if snowflakes could talk, would they compare themselves? Would they be able to see their own beauty in the flurry of all the others? It’s an interesting question.