One thing I love about my work is that I get to meet so many inspiring women doing amazing things. It blows my mind, though, how often the topic of “the comparison game” comes up! It’s especially prevalent in the world of social media. Logically, we know it’s a losing game to compare our blooper reel to other people’s highlights, but it’s an easy trap to fall (or follow) into. That’s why I’m so excited to bring you this kick-ass guest post from Vanessa Steil, the woman behind Living In Steil, on how to avoid that energy-sucking comparison game.
5 Ways to Avoid The Comparison Game
You pick up your phone to mindlessly scroll through Instagram—and you see it. The expensive clothes, trips around the world, gorgeous mansions, fleets of fancy cars, and seemingly endless photos of perfectly crafted açai bowls. And then you quietly wonder do yourself, ‘how come my life doesn’t look anything like that?’ Does this sound familiar?
In the increasingly visual world we live in, the comparison game is real, especially if like me, you spend a considerable amount of time on social media. I’ve been a lifestyle blogger for almost five years now, so I get the comparison game firsthand. Whether it’s comparing where you are in your career to someone else’s, or secretly coveting everything a blogger is wearing, it can be hard to stay realistic about where you are in your own life.
My story may be a little different from most. I started blogging back in 2014, after I had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 26. In the beginning, I had few expectations for my blog—I merely hoped that it could serve as a creative outlet for me and a resource for other newly diagnosed thyroid cancer patients and survivors. When I started my site, I wasn’t on social media—not even Facebook. Instagram was the first platform that I joined, and I was immediately drawn in by all of the pretty pictures posted by people whom I’d never met. Instantly, scrolling through Instagram to see what strangers were posting became almost like a hobby.
So, how do I keep it real as a lifestyle blogger? I’m glad you asked.
1. Remember why you started: I told you why I started my site, but what got you started on your journey? In the beginning, I remember checking my WordPress stats almost as frequently as a day trader checks stock prices. I was elated when I received my first comment (that wasn’t from a family member), and I still remember the first email I received from a reader telling me how much my posts resonated with them. For me, that was the equivalent of getting 50,000 page views a month.
2.Trust your journey: I love nothing more than hearing about someone who found their passion, quit their day job, and turned their passion into their paycheck. But these things do take time—and resources. As a blogger, I’ve heard a lot of stories like this. While it may be realistic for some people to go out on their own and take this leap of faith, be careful not to let their daydream turn into your demise.
3.Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle: I feel like this is the biggest life lesson of them all—and one that I personally have struggled with. I’m coming on 10 years since I graduated from college, and I’ve found myself feeling that I should be way farther along in life than I am. But then I remind myself of my story—not to throw a pity party, but as a way to show myself how far I’ve come in the years since my cancer diagnosis. The truth is, there will always be people who have more than you or may even be where you want to go. Rather than compare your story to theirs, learn from them. The great thing about social media is that it can help make connections, and a follower can become a friend (#IRL).
4.Be authentic: I truly believe that in order to be successful at anything in life you need to be yourself. And that is especially true if you are a blogger. Yes, blogging is a bit of a numbers game and the more followers, likes, comments, and page views you have, the more brands will want to work with you. But at the end of the day, your readers come to your site to hear your thoughts and opinions on subjects that they value. It’s hard to ignore the numbers on social media, but if you lose your authenticity, all the followers in the world won’t help you regain it.
5.Live your life: How often have you found yourself in search of the perfect #Instaworthy image? I know I’ve been guilty of this one before. The longer I blog, the more I realize that not every detail of your life needs to be captured and documented on social media. It’s okay to live in the moment and post later…or not at all.
I’ve found blogging to be a truly rewarding and life-changing experience. It not only gave me a voice and helped me through a difficult time in my life with my health, but it has introduced me to many amazing people and has allowed me to build a supportive community that I look forward to engaging with. While there are bloggers who have more followers, work with larger brands, and are able to make a living off their site, I’m happy just where I am right now. Even if you’re not a blogger, I hope that I’ve inspired you to be content with where you are in your life, too.
Vanessa is a graduate of The American University in Washington, D.C. and holds a B.A. in political science. She never dreamed that a cancer diagnosis would spark a love of writing and lead her down a new career path. She started her lifestyle blog, Living in Steil (pronounced “style”), in 2014 and can be found diligently creating content, styling photo shoots, and enjoying life on the East Coast. Vanessa actively promotes thyroid cancer awareness as a patient advocate and has shared her story in numerous outlets.
Connect with Vanessa on her site at Living In Steil or on social media at @livinginsteil.
Do you struggle with the comparison game?
This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.