The Comparison Trap

Everyone’s situation has its own unique code… DNA if you will. No situation is the same and it shouldn’t be the same. Could you imagine everyone living the same life and having the same issues and going through the same problems – boring. Thank goodness life is no where near “take a right, then take your next immediate left”. But with things being so different and unpredictable for each individual, it leads us to naturally compare our triumphs to others (without putting their background noise into consideration).

See there are different levels when it comes to the comparison trap: analyze, reflect, then admit. Three simple words and actions yet so detrimental. You’re at lunch with a friend and they start talking about their upcoming vacations. They have no student loans and just bought a new car. They live in an upscale apartment building that you probably couldn’t get approved for. You sometimes wonder how much extra cash they have lying around in their savings account. They always seem to have new clothes and you envy that. You envy every part of it. The way they talk about their significant other, how they order their Starbucks, how they just… act. This phase is called analyzing. You find it eating away at you around 1:45am when you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. You start to wish you had their life and even sometimes imagine what it would be like to be them. And the unfortunate reality of this is we’ve all been there at some capacity.

“Is my life really that boring?” You start to think about the everyday things you do versus what they do. Simple tasks like getting gas seem more intriguing for them than it does for you. You think about where you live, the car you drive, your friendly and intimate relationships with people. You think about your current job, how much your making, and your career path. The vacations you took in comparison to theirs – the cool pictures they took, and you didn’t. The reflection is so force of habit for most of us but it’s such an important part of the 3 steps to this madness. If you can catch yourself reflecting on your life, turn your reflections into positives. Sure, you don’t live downtown… but you love the suburbs! You aren’t drooling over your significant other like they are, but that doesn’t make them a bad person… you’ve just been with them much longer so the little things they notice are a thing of the past for you.

The last part of it all is always the hardest but the most important – admit. It’s easy to find fault in yourself and if you do it often it becomes a nasty habit thus leading to shame. And so often, what you assume about others isn’t even accurate. As I like to say, “There’s always a back story.” There’s something that you don’t know that could radically challenge your own assumptions. I’ve found myself wrapped up in the comparison trap and despite what you might believe I also suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)… “Excessive anxiety or worry about an array of things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances.” There… I said it. 150mg of Sertraline daily and 0.5mg of Ativan as needed. Losing my sister, emergency rooms, vacations then fainting, more hospital beds, blood draws, alopecia, underweight, heart transplant. This is something I’ve been coping with for several years and I’d be damned if anyone said mental illness is not a “real” illness.

Having anxiety can feel very lonely at times and can also feel a little embarrassing, which is why I think for a lot of people, saying “I’m fine” is a lot easier than opening up and feeling judged. I’ll admit it. I’ve been so busy at times but not in a way most people understand. I was busy taking deep breaths. I was busy silencing irrational thoughts. I was busy calming a racing heart. I was busy telling myself I’m okay. Sometimes this is my busy and I will not apologize for it. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Those of us that suffer from a mental illness drink the poison our minds pour for us and wonder why we feel sick. When really your mental illness is just lying to you. You are loved and going to be okay. Take time for yourself and be patient. Keep in mind that most people only show you their highlights. My goal is to remind you that this is real. I want nothing but to give you me – the true me. Take away the vacations, bottle service, designer pieces and anyone “cool” I might know. I’m just as real as you. And I pray that you are nothing less than proud of who you are and the conditions you deal with. Until next time…

xoxo, B.

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