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Things We Are NOT Doing In 2021: Comparison (Because Competing Just Ain't It, Sis).

One of the biggest goals that I set late last year is to cut out comparison completely. I've noticed that in my life, comparison can lead to unhealthy competition. While I don't think all competition is harmful, I think any competition beyond a friendly race or game is unnecessary. Here's why:

1. Comparison and competition is ugly

When I spend hours scrolling through social media sites, I start to compare myself to people. I'll compare myself not only to people I do know but also to people I don't. I will admit I've scrolled through Kendall Jenner or Gigi Hadid's Instagram one too many times thinking, "if only I were as slim, or tall, or successful as them, I'd be so happy." Or back when I was single, I remember looking at the relationships others posted and thinking that something must be wrong with me since I was not in a happy relationship like the one's I saw online.

Wishing I looked like a supermodel and obsessing over them led me to binge dieting, starving myself, and becoming a workout fiend as a teenager. At 112 pounds, I would tell myself, "if only I could lose a little bit more body fat, then I'll be happy." By comparing myself to others, I would always conclude that I was ugly since I was not them. Then I would sulk in my sadness and find myself feeling jealous and resentful over it.

But no more! Last year I decided always to try to appreciate others instead of comparing myself to them. When I follow someone who is outrageously beautiful, successful, or talented, I remind myself, "good for her!". Criticizing someone else does them no good, and it only makes my heart ugly, so there is no room for it in 2021. Period.

2. Competing is not fulfilling

I went throughout high school believing I was simply not a competitive person. That was until I started acting.

At 17, I would show up to auditions and be greeted by a room full of girls that looked just like me (literally just like the scene below from La La Land. Every. Single. Time.). Right away, I'd examine each girl and try to see what their resume looked like. Usually, my perception was that my competition was better looking, better qualified, and better represented than I was.

That's when I felt it. Deep, all-consuming envy that I excused as my newly discovered "competitive side." I'd think my obsession with comparing myself to others as finally being a competitive person. I found the problem I had with being competitive because it started to bleed into all areas of my life. The more I focused on others, the less I focused on my real motives and goals. Good intentioned dreams of becoming an actress because I loved the craft became clouded by my obsession to win.

3. Comparison is draining

I spent my year as a 17-year-old drowning in the ocean of comparison. I was looking around at others so much that I forgot to focus on swimming. Thus, I sank into my sea of self-loathing and jealousy of others.

I spent so much of that year focused on beating everyone else that I lost sight of who I was and what I wanted. I spent that year being so angry with God. I remember thinking, "Why can't God just give me what X has? Why do I have to look this way? Why doesn't he just give me this even though I've worked hard for it?".

I expressed my frustration to my mom. She looked me dead in the eye and told me, "Sarah, God is not your genie, and life is NOT a competition." She explained how it is not my job to compete with others; since I am the only person I can control, I should be the only person I am trying to be better than. This concept is widely known now, but back then, it shook my world.

4. No one's life is as picture-perfect as it seems

When I look at my Instagram feed, I don't see pictures of the hard days, the days my skin was breaking out like crazy, or a picture of me crying after arguing with someone I love. We post our highest moments online, our outrageous vacations and selfies taken under perfectly manipulated lighting, and that's okay! I am not saying that the next time you cry, you need to take a picture and put it on the internet. While social media gets a lot of hate, I think it's awesome that so many people can have a place to express themselves through photos, videos, and captions.

Still, I have been taking time to remind myself that I usually only see a glimpse of someone's life on social media. Unless we are friends who talk almost daily, I do not know the reality of their home life, relationships, or if they are even happy. Please refer to point one and remember this is not an opportunity to justify criticizing someone. Instead (as basic and hippy as it may sound), remember that we are all humans with emotions and bad days (or even bad weeks/months). Oddly enough, that can sometimes be a beautiful part of life; if life contained no trials, how can we grow?

The Bottom line

As a Christian, I do believe there is an extra layer to all of this. Humans are made in the likeness and image of God. Psalms reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made ( 139:14). If I believe this, why am I spending so much time and effort being sad over all the things I cannot change about myself? This year dawned on me that instead of using energy to hate myself, why can't I invest that same energy in loving God, people, and even myself, just the way God made me. I can use that time and effort to instead work on being the best Jesus lover and person God calls me to be.

Romans 12 states that believers are not to think of themselves above others. Instead should acknowledge that we all have the same goal: to honor and serve God. 1 Corinthians 12 also talks about this as it states that each person is blessed with different strengths. Paul writes in verses 5 and 6, "There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and everyone it is the same God at work". The chapter goes on to explain how each person's different gift can be compared to each member of the body having another function,

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. -1 Corinthians 12:17-20

So Ladies, make it your goal to remove comparison and competition from your life. The only person you are trying to be better than is yourself. You are smart, strong, funny, and beautiful already. Use your energy to focus on what matters to you and make yourself strong against the lie's attack that you are not enough because you are and you do not need to be like anyone else.

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