The Weeds That Trap Us: Thoughts on Comparison


To know me is to know that I’m a hoarder of journals and scrap pieces of paper with ‘notes to self’ scribbled on them. I love reading the stories I used to write about where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. It’s a testament to how much things can change in a single year.

As I pulled my notebooks off the shelf and skimmed through the brittle pages, a multitude of memories flashed through my mind about the angsty struggles and insecurities I used to face. Hard conversations with friends exposing where I really put my worth. Having to say goodbye to someone before their chapter was truly finished. Playing small because I was too fearful of showing up. Watching other people live out the storyline I wanted for myself.

I say I ‘used to’ face these insecurities, but really, a lot of them are still flaring up in the present. Like babies that demand your full attention, these insecurities cry out and whinge until you start devoting all your energy to them.

The loudest of these is comparison.

Comparison has always been a struggle in my life, but I don’t think I ever truly understood how much damage it could inflict until two years ago.

Even to this very day, the memory of having to watch ‘my person’ get with someone else occasionally makes me cringe. I remember feeling overcome with despair as I watched on the sidelines while their storyline unfolded. It was like a tsunami of hurt and pain flooding through me. No survivors were found.

In the aftermath, and even after the punch to my gut had faded away, I couldn’t stop thinking about the girl he had chosen over me.

 “Is it because she’s prettier than me??”

“Is it because she’s smarter than me??”

“Is it because I’m not White??”

Like soldiers on a battlefield, I lined up every single one of our traits and began comparing them in an attempt to search for some sort of certainty. Some reasoning or explanation for why someone else, who was so painfully similar to me, was getting all the things I wanted.  

Every single thought was like a stab wound to my heart and mind- yet somehow, I couldn’t stop indulging in the belief that she must be better than me. As time went on, my uncontrollable urge to compare myself to her, and the inevitable thoughts of discontentment, mixed together to become a poisonous concoction of pain and anger. For months, I resented this person from afar and engaged in a tug-of-war battle in my head over who was better- me or her. Yet somehow, I was always the one losing.

Maybe you’ve never experienced comparison to the same angsty and dramatic extent. But replace my situation with a dream job prospect, a competitor in your business, or someone you follow on social media, and I bet you can start to recognise the discontent feeling that tells you you’re not enough.

Like weeds, comparison begins its lifespan so small and seemingly harmless that we’re initially dismissive of its existence. It starts off with a tiny twinge here, and a throbbing ache there. Its birthed from a small question, ‘why doesn’t my life look like theirs?’ and grows into a nutrient sucking force that wails ‘why aren’t I enough?’

You become wholeheartedly convinced that you’re inadequate and you’ll never measure up. You resolve to do whatever you can to close the gap between you and this idea of ‘enough,’ only to find it’s a never-ending uphill battle. For me, I became embroiled in the lie that I was destined to watch other people live out the story I always wanted.

Distrust and bitterness grow rampant when we continue to water the seeds of comparison. Left unchecked, it can entangle us in a never-ending cycle of wondering why other people have it better and easier than us. It can choke the life out of the dreams we’ve planted for ourselves and make us question if it’s even worth tending to our garden if someone else’s is just going to look better. It can be the driving force that compels us to keep striving to prove we’re worthy- only to leave us burnt out in the end.

Nobody wins when we engage in this battle of comparing ourselves to others.  Whether you’ve waged full-blown warfare against someone, or just made snarky digs at them in your mind, it’s a futile fight against the wrong enemy.

I think that comparison latches onto our hearts so easily because we want to become somebody. We just want to know that our efforts to make our lives meaningful, are going to pay off. So, when we see someone else get the things we want it can make us feel robbed. We wonder what’s wrong with us that we couldn’t achieve the same thing even with all our striving. Underlying all of this is the belief that other people deserve good things, but not us.

Two years on from that fateful event, I now know that what’s good for someone else, isn’t necessarily good for me. What one person perceives as a blessing, someone else is having to deal with the side effects that come alongside it.

Once I could separate myself from the poisonous fog that was clouding my mind, I could see that what I so desperately wanted was (thankfully) never supposed to be mine. I could see that, though my vison and goals looked similar to others, I was on my own, unique path that nobody else could claim.

Comparison is not something you conquer. It’s something you continuously acknowledge. I don’t think it’s something that we triumph over once and then move on with our lives without ever measuring ourselves again. Rather, we must intentionally uproot the lies every time it strikes our most vulnerable areas.

Although I’ve moved on from that event, I can still feel comparison’s snare around the parts of my life that I’ve invested in. I may not be competing for a legal job anymore, but I’m still wondering why other creative businesses are flourishing more than mine. I may not be competing for a guy’s attention, but I’m still fretting over why certain relationships in my life look different from other people’s.  

Comparison recently flared up again when I was scrolling through the posts of a writer I deeply admired on Instagram. Though I owe a lot of my bravery and wisdom to her, I couldn’t help but feel familiar twinges of discontentment whenever her posts popped up on my screen.

“I wish I could be as cool as her,” was the thought that kept circling through my mind as I watched her life play out on the screen.

‘Why is she making more of an impact than me?’

‘Why is she more successful than me?’

‘Why can’t I be more like her?’

It got to the point where I had to sit down over Skype and have a conversation with her about what I was feeling.

“I fear I’m trying to become too much like you and it’s manifesting itself in the way I write,” I told her.

“You’re not me and you never will be,” she told me. “You have you own stories to tell, and dreams and wisdom that’s yours and only yours. Focus on that.”

The lesson I learnt that day?

We were never created to be like someone else. We were never meant to follow someone else’s story. There is a plan and a path of your life that’s reserved for you and you only. Though you may be aspiring for the same things as him or her, and though they may have gotten it ‘first,’ it doesn’t detract from the truth that there’s something out there for you too.

There are stories only you can tell. There are gifts only you possess. It’s not a cliché to say you’re unique – it’s fact. You can’t compare two vastly different lives.

The irony is that, while you’re over here looking at another person’s life, someone else is probably wondering why they aren’t more like you.

And how heartbreaking would it be if you never discovered your full potential because you were too busy trying to imitate someone else.

So let me leave you with this, dear reader.

There is a seat for you at the table.

There is enough blessings and abundance in this world for both you and her to achieve the things you want.

Someone else’s success doesn’t take away the fact that there is so much purpose and impact running through your veins.

No amount of striving will change the fact that you’re already enough.

Though you may not see the path laid out before you, rest assured it’s there and it’s not going to be like everyone else’s.

How boring would it be if we all received the same things at the same time? What kind of storyline would that be? There wouldn’t be any room for redemption and triumph. No euphoric, uplifting thoughts of ‘it was all worth it.’

So how do you remove the weeds of comparison from your heart?

You unclench your fists and bless the other person. You stop thinking of them as someone to compete with, and wish them well on their journey. You pull on your gloves and start uprooting the lies that you are inadequate and that other people are better than you. You sow the seeds of truth that good things are on its way to you too.

I don’t promise it’ll be easy. There have been so many times where I have wished blessings over other people’s lives only to still feel angry the very next day. Even in the middle of writing this, I saw a post from someone else and got so triggered I had to stop writing.

But there is value in uprooting our tendency to compare. There’s gold in remembering who you are and the fact that you’re one of a kind.

You’re on your own journey babe, and nobody can steal that away from you.

Encouraging you always,

Ash xx

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Mind Your Business

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Yeet Pray Love @goonellie

“You need to mind your own business,” she told me.

Not the words you want to hear while in the throes of another heartache, but necessary words nonetheless.

It’s 2018 and everything you ever need to know is accessible in the palm of your hand. You can track in real time exactly what your friends are getting up to tonight. You can instantly look up the fact that there are more stars in the skies than particles of sand, just to win an argument. You can even get Pad Thai and a date to share it with, delivered to your doorstep in just two swipes.

I’m guilty of spending hours lying in bed, scrolling on my phone and checking out the highlights of other people’s lives. I justify it by saying I just want to see how the other half live. The ones who are inspiring me to chase my dreams. To watch the friends I’ve made on the other side of the world, kick ass.

But what happens when I scroll pass something I don’t want to know about?

A change in relationship status

A new job update

A tagged meme I wasn’t included in

A party I’ve missed out on

I can get very easily bogged down after an intense scrolling session or when I’ve lurked on a profile for too long. Especially when FOMO hits and I find out news that rubs me the wrong way or leaves a sick feeling in my stomach.

And so, on this particular Friday night when I should have been capitalising on my 20s and making questionable decisions, I found myself curled up in the foetus position on her bed having yet another existential crisis. Friends who let you rock up at their house at odd hours of the night, and open up their bed or couch to you, are solid gold. I have spent many evenings diving into people’s passenger seats, knocking on doors, and camping out on kitchen floors, all so they can give me the tough but necessary advice. These are the people to hold close and do life with.

As I lay sulking under the dim glow of her fairy lights, she schooled me in the art of minding my own business.

What other people are doing should be of no concern to you. What he is doing with her is not a story-line you need to care about unless you’re invited to play a part in their drama.

“Stop jumping to conclusions,” she stated bluntly. “What you see and hear online is only half the story.”

I pulled her blankets over my head and sulked even more.

“Every time you start to get upset, remind yourself it’s none of your business,” she nudged me. “This is not burying your head in the sand. It’s an intentional redirection of where you focus your energy and thoughts.”

The truth is, she’s right. I’m guilty of investing in the lives of others more than I invest in my own. It’s easier to show off my life on a screen than show up and do the messy but necessary work in reality. We watch and scroll and care so much about what other people are doing, we miss out on the magic that’s happening right in front of us. And of course, we want others to see the highlights in our life as well. So we play the game. We snap, we caption, we vlog. This is not a social media bash – and you should definitely instastory any moment where you’re feeling and looking great. But some moments just shouldn’t be for the public.

I had the privilege of hanging out with someone especially great the other week. It went the way you’d want any night with a ‘potential’ to go- pizza, ice cream, and your Pastor dining at the table next to yours. Afterwards, we sat in the car with music blaring, city lights sparkling, and basked in a reassuring silence that could only accompany two people who were absolutely comfortable with one another. In that moment, I didn’t care what anyone else was doing. All I wanted was to savour the moment and never have it end. It was such a rare and sweet occasion that my fingers itched to capture it and have something tangible to remember it by. But as I reached for my phone, I felt a nudge telling me ‘Don’t document this. This moment is yours and his. No one else’s. Some things just need to stay sacred.’


Like I said, this isn’t a social media bash. The Internet has brought some beautiful things and people into my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. But if we’re always basing our feelings and jumping to conclusions based off the highlight reel and 10 second stories people put up, we run the risk of neglecting all the amazing things we’ve achieved in our own lives.

So for anyone who has ever felt crap because the rest of the world is ahead, let me pass on this pep talk to you.

It’s none of your business how far ahead other people are

None of your business that they’re now asking someone else out instead of you

None of your business they’re in a top-tier company and you’re not

None of your business that they’re further along in their career than you are

Quit watching and just do you.

Anxiety loves taking any tidbit of information you feed it and running with it until it’s crafted a story where you’re the victim.

So stop feeding it. Realise that life online is curated and only two dimensional. It’s rarely the full story, and it’s none of your business. Learn from people, yes. Be inspired by them for sure. But don’t lurk on profiles if you’re just going to beat yourself up for all the ways you’re not like them.

You could spend hours swiping through other people’s stories instead of putting the work into building your own. You could spend your whole life following other people’s lives. Or you could just devote your energy to living your own life- unafraid and uninhibited.

Mind your business

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