Thief is the Comparison of Joy...or Something Like That

September 5, 2013

Comparison. In a world filled with instant access through social media, we are constantly comparing our lives. Are we having as much fun as that person? God, that lo-fi makes her food look so much better than our own dinner. Are our outfits just as put together as that fashion blogger? Her hair is so big because it's filled with secrets...secrets about how to be beautiful and casual and chic in a way that bring all the boys to the yard. 

People spend so much time stressing out by comparing themselves to others. Trust me, I did it the whole first week of grad school. Every time we had to do classroom introductions my palms would sweat and the only thing I was confident of was that I was not as smart, cool or successful as the people around me. And then I remembered something:

It's all how you phrase it. 

Anyone who has written a basic resume knows this. You learned to implement best practices in customer service while delegating tasks and balancing projects? Bullshit. You answered a phone and made sure one pizza didn't burn while putting cheese on the other one. 

I get a lot of crap for being bluntly honest here on the blog, and in real life. I also get a lot of sympathy nods and condolences over my "bad luck in love." Again, it's all in how I choose to phrase it. Let's look at an example. I will write it all out the way I would say it, and then cross off the parts that normal people would leave out. 

On Grad School:
I just got done working at a nonprofit job I hated for a year in St. Louis, and have moved back to Grand Rapids to start graduate school while working at a nonprofit child development center, or a fancy word for daycare. Grand Valley was my only top choice for grad school because my ex left me high and dry with no plans after convincing me it would be better to wait to apply to other programs once I got my engagement ring and figured out where we were going to live. Grand Valley was the only school that didn't require the GRE, so I still sent in that application while apartment searching with my boyfriend. Who then faked depression to avoid telling me he was cheating on me. 

See the difference? I went from sounding like a raving, spastic lunatic to someone who thoughtfully and purposefully chose this stage of my life. 

On Love:
I went on a date last night, but holy shit was he batshit crazy. 
He put ketchup on his palm and licked it off. 

Well la di da, just look at me going on all the dates. 

I'm not encouraging you to lie about your life. But in today's culture, I think there's this predominant feeling that you have to share everything about your life...even though we all know that we're only sharing the Instagram-acceptable. There are few people you owe the whole truth to. No one needs to know that Grand Valley was my only option. I can choose to tell them that. Since I am an extrovert who is confident that my jumble of a life will work out, I choose to tell more people the messy details than I think the average human would. 

I guess what I'm saying, is that you're having a day where you're lacking a little confidence, feeling a smudge underdone and like your bra strap just ain't workin' for you that on the normal side. Filter your sentences. Pretend you're at the job interview of life, because in interviews you always sell yourself as nothing but the best. And then when you're done filtering your sentences and putting your best face forward, tell me if you found what I found. That life done like that is boring. And a little bit exhausting. That it's more rewarding and freeing to be confident enough in yourself to spill those extra little messy details. Because you know everything will be okay in the end, and if it's not's not the end. 

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  1. You are so right! People often conveniently leave out details to make things seem better than they are. As I'm always reminded "don't compare your behind the scenes to someone else's highlight reel."

  2. What a great post. I definitely needed to hear this right now. Love your honesty!

  3. Just write a book already so I can put it on my night stand and stare at it every night.

  4. it's so true - instagram is like the resume of life. you just show off the best parts. blogging can definitely make you feel like every other blogger's life is perfect since they're just putting the good stuff out there.
    -- jackie @ jade and oak

  5. I'm frequently being told I lack a social filter, but I'm with you why bother filtering to make thinkgs sound better, it's all the off-plan bits that make life worth interesting!

  6. Love this post, you're right! It really is all about perspective and realizing that though something may be hard it will get better.

  7. Great post, I always edit myself when I talk to people. I don't want them to know how crappy I think my life is sometimes so I make it sound all sunshine and roses until I'm talking to my bestie.

  8. I love an honest blog. I try to write an honest blog. But, I think that sometimes the real stuff gets negative, and don't we all talk about how the blog world is always happy? And there is at times a fine line between being honest and being bitchy, and it's tough to toe, especially in writing. So I think both of those contribute to the "OMG my life is so perfect!" social media lives. I think knowing what to keep private, sharing the negative in an interesting way (as in, "learn from my mistakes" rather than endless whining about life), and letting your audience know where you're coming from are helpful in being real.

    And btw, your explanation of where you are in life is far more interesting than the "normal person" version!

  9. so true! i'm usually pretty good at focusing on all the positive stuff in my life, but going back to school ... law school ... 7 years after i graduated undergrad and am totally out of practice, and meanwhile i got my degree in spanish and all these other people got their degrees in political stuff...yikes. did i mention law school is graded completely on a curve so while in the past i might be like, whatever, i'll learn it. now i have to be like, ok i need to learn it BETTER than all these people who already seem so much smarter than me!! ahh! so yeah, im having some moments lately. definitely gonna try to keep the perspective thing in mind because it's so true!

  10. I love me some honest blog posts, sugar ;) You're right, it's all how we phrase it!!! xoxo

  11. I cannot help but feel connected to you with us both starting graduate school and dating. So glad to have someone to relate to on this crazy journey!

  12. You're DAMN right . Comparison , comparison , comparison . It's lame I had been a freshmen over under it #SODAMN

    Noor @ Noor's Place

  13. I gotta agree!! I must filter my mouth, nobody have perfect life! And no one is going to cry over my problems that I'm broadcasting on my social media accounts!

  14. Haha so hilarious. I like those other parts left in though.


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