3 Tips to End the Comparison Trap

Jul 10, 2018 | Mental Health

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So I sit there. Jeans and my favorite cozy sweater to what I believed was an information session to learn how to volunteer with this organization and instead I am greeted with women in heels and tweed jackets with their perfect glowing skin and silky hair.

Clearly, I’m underdressed and truth be told I feel like the oddball.

Whelp I’m here to just get information, I’ll sit in the back and take notes I think.

Then she says, ”We’re actually meeting first to mingle in the other room”. This is the closest to having a panic attack that I can think of and I know it shows on my face and the beginning of my own comparison trap.

First, I absolutely hate networking and two I hate being somewhere underdressed. Didn’t get the memo that this was a networking event otherwise I would have mentally prepared. You can’t just throw me in a group especially when I’m extremely unconformable and expect me to mingle.

So in moments like these, what do I do? I retreat, I linger uncomfortably not talking to people and ruminate about how underdressed I am and how much better they must be, counting the minutes until it is all over, which seems like forever.

What’s the purpose of this rant, well I learned that when I’m like this I’m focused too much on how others perceive me and I’m comparing myself to them.

Had this been a group of ladies in jeans and cozy sweaters I would have welcomed (or at least not been so resistant to) networking.

I would have been at ease and mingled but instead, I was thinking. “ I wonder what they are thinking about me, I don’t fit in with them, They look more established than me, “ I should have worn heels and a tweed jacket”.

I was in a comparison spiral and it wasn’t helping me. It ruined what could have been a nice meeting but instead I was a panicked mess. So here’s what I would have done differently.

Look for Similarities Rather than Differences

 

Yes, I was underdressed but I didn’t have to let it ruin my time. I was so focused on how we were different,  that I didn’t acknowledge how we might be the same.

I mean if anything we were all here at the same meeting with an interest in volunteering. And at the very least we all live in the same city and are women. To go deeper we must all value serving others in some way.

I’ve learned that sometimes I can’t help but compare myself so if I’m going to do it it might as well be positive. Instead of comparing your differences try to find some common interest.

Once I actually did end up talking to someone I enjoyed myself. She shared how she was interested in one cause that the group had which happened to be the same one I was interested in as well. That immediate similarity made me feel so much more relaxed and open to talking to others and got me out of my head. (By that time it ended, ha).

My comparison filled brain was making assumptions about how I might be perceived, which may not have been true at all. Give people a chance; they usually are a lot nicer than you give them credit for.

Be Grateful

It’s so easy to want what other people have or want to be more like them but everyone is on a different journey. There will always be someone “better”, ”prettier”, “more established”, “different” and that’s not a bad thing. You have to appreciate what you have right now and the uniqueness of who you are.

Someone will always have more than you do and someone will also always have less than you as well. You cannot compare your beginning, middle or end to someone else’s because their journey is different than yours. I have to remind myself that even if someone is different than me it doesn’t mean that it’s “better”. Different is just different.

To help me remember this I started a gratitude journal. This helps me to put things in perspective. Things may not be “perfect” and they never will but I do have things to be grateful for every day.

Appreciate Who You Are

Lol, tweed jackets and super high heels aren’t even me. Don’t get me wrong I like a small boot and will occasionally wear heels but I’m a more laid back kind of girl. And had I got the dress code memo I would have still wore something more me(aka not a tweed jacket).

You are different from others, no one person is the same so why are we trying to conform and be just like someone else? Appreciate who you are and what makes you special and different. I had to keep reminding myself that these people just may not have been my people.

They may be more conservative than me and that’s cool. There are others that are like me that can surround myself with. A little later I noticed a group of girls who didn’t get the dress code memo also and were dressed more casual. My initial thought was ok these are my people, I don’t have to try to “fit in” with the more professional ladies there is a group that seems more similar to me and I felt more comfortable with.

So that’s my story. In the end, I’m so grateful that that random girl spoke to me. She helps me to put things in perspective and we still keep in touch. I would love to hear how you help yourself in a comparison crisis.