Comparisons and Perfection

Occasionally I read something online that I want to share on my little corner of the internet, and today, I did exactly that when I discovered the blog No Shoes, No Worries. 

Blogger, surfer and yoga teacher Andy wrote a blog called ‘Less Perfection, More Laughs‘ in which she used the word ‘Comparison-itis’.

She wrote about the strive for perfection, the fact we worry too much and the importance of being proud in ourselves – just for being us.

In just a few lines, this post hit home.

I often succumb to ‘comparison-itis’. I compare my work life to others and constantly ask myself whether I have achieved enough yet? Am I doing as well in my career as others I admire?

I compare my physical appearance to other girls all the time. Am I as attractive? Should I wear more make-up so my Instagram photos are as glamorous?

And the latest comparison…Why can’t I surf like that?

I didn’t actually realise it until I started writing those paragraph, but there does seem to be a constant niggling voice there, questioning what makes me me.

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Just like Andy, I also find myself worrying too much – and this has only got worse as I’ve got older. I used to be WAY more optimistic regardless of the challenges ahead. But I’m now more cautious, more aware of the challenges ahead and more conscious about what others will think.

To summarise, there is far more self-doubt.

I am lucky to have an amazing support network – parents, boyfriend, friends, family and even fellow bloggers who boost me up, shake me when I’m being silly, and share the love when it’s needed.

But this case of ‘comparison-itis’ (I’m going to keep using that word because I think it’s awesome) is actually more common than we think.

Andy wrote:

It doesn’t matter how successful someone might seem or how well we think they’re doing. To them, there is always someone doing more, doing better and looking better while doing it.”

And she is so right.

Think about when you feel happiest. Most free.

Chances are, it’s when you’re enjoying yourself. You’re in the moment and you don’t care what anyone else thinks of you, or what you look like. You are YOU.

For me, these are moments when I stop caring about whether I look pretty enough. I stop wondering if I look like an idiot. I’m just enjoying life.

Here’s an example. I hate skating through crowds on the promenade because I know I’m still a beginner and I could stack it at any moment. Compared to my boyfriend who makes it look effortless, I’d look like an idiot. Who wants that embarrassment?

The trouble is, I’m trying to look cool when actually, I should just be making the most of any moment I get to practice and enjoy feeling the wind rushing through my hair as I skate.

Same goes for surfing. During a good session, I find that it empties my mind and allows me to just be me – the ocean doesn’t care who you are, she just keeps churning out waves to challenge or empower you.

So it’s ridiculous that it takes me a good half hour to shake away thoughts wondering what others are thinking of me, and whether my skills are being judged as far worse than others in the line-up.

These thoughts of self-doubt and the act of comparing ourselves to others, Andy believes, is what happens when we strive to be perfect. We’re always trying to be our best selves but sometimes, it’s actually quite a negative way to behave.

Rather than doing this, she’s suggesting we all just be proud of who we are, where we come from, and what we’re doing right now.

I’m reminded of something an author and friend used to say to school kids.

“You are unique. There is no one else in the world the same as you. No one was born at the same time, in the same place, to the same parents, looking the same way, with the same memories as you have. “

So why would you try to be someone else or think that’s not good enough?

I’m going to start 2019 off by feeling proud that I’ve managed to confess to the inner workings of my mind, and refuse to continue in the same way.

As Andy, says:

“Don’t hide your magic. […] Go be you and don’t fuss over the details.”

I’m going to focus on less perfection and way more laughs this year. And for many years to come.

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