Comparison: The Killer of Joy

When I was in high school, I was heavily involved in church activities. Youth group, leading bible studies, on the young leaders group, etc. I was really close friends with another girl in the group who was sweet as pie, and the pastor’s daughter.

She honestly was lovely. She was also blonde, pretty, and bubbly. Everyone loved her and was in love with her. This included people outside of church as well as those in the youth group.

I spent a lot of agonizing days of my youth wondering why I, the tall black girl, didn’t measure up. I compared us a lot. When you’re a teenage girl, it’s really fucking hard not to feel invisible or to compare yourself to someone who appears to be the “pinnacle” of beauty. It also doesn’t help when that person is genuinely nice and a good person. So you feel terrible for wishing you were noticed over her.

Fast forward through (what feels like too many) years. I still compare. If it isn’t my writing, its how shitty I’m doing at this whole Patreon thing compared to others. Or it’s my performance at work. Or how much money I should be making compared to my colleagues. Or the fact that I’m shit at dating or being attractive to others COMPARED TO OTHERS.

It’s all comparing. It’s all damaging.

There are so many reasons I struggle with self-confidence. Comparison is one reason because it does such a good job of stealing joy. It draws my attention away from what I’m doing and am good at, to what others are doing and what they’re good at. Them, they’re work, is really none of my business so I shouldn’t be so focused on it.

I’ve written about comparison before. If I think about it, block out all the voices that say I can’t compete, I have to see my merit. It’s hard to give myself credit for the things I’ve done, for my personal beauty, for the success/goodness of my writing. I have to admit and embrace that I, in my own right, am good. That my writing is good, my looks appeal, that people want to be around me and are attracted to me, and that I’m good at what I do.

It means I have to say I’m awesome, believe it, and go forward with that in mind. Maybe I don’t get more readers, that’s okay because look who is reading. Maybe I don’t get in publication I want, but that’s okay because look where my work is published. Maybe not every story I post gets a comment, that’s okay because the increase in views tells me someone visits and I do have comments.

Focusing on what others are doing takes my focus off me. It makes me feel like shit because I don’t measure up. It messes with my productivity. It makes me shy away in relationships or creates distance because maybe they don’t want me. To compare is to diminish all the joy that is currently filling your life.

I’m doing good work and I want to focus on that. Things take time to grow, but I want to make sure it’s what I’m doing that has my attention.


  1. Posy Churchgate

    Well made points Cara & a balanced article . I don’t always read as many as I’d like of your posts – we’ve discussed feeling stretched thin in this area.
    What I want to reiterate is how much I admire your writing skill – I look up to you/your work & I love talking to you when we meet – you’re warm & interesting.

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  2. Marie Rebelle

    That last paragraph is so important. I think it’s inevitable that we compare ourselves to others, but we should never have the comparison take our attention away from ourselves. You say you are not as good as others with Patreon? I’ve had my Patreon idea on my desk for three months now and still haven’t set the step. How’s that for ‘not as good’.

    You are a wonderful person and a talented writer and you should tell yourself that every day 🙂

    Rebel xox

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      Cara Thereon

      You’re very successful. I think once you put it out (Patreon) you’ll be successful in that as well. Thank you for reading.

  3. Jupiter Grant

    You are a fantastic writer, and a gorgeous woman. It’s really hard not to compare oneself to everyone else. I do it all the time myself. But I love the positive assertion of your post here, and it reminds me that there is no benefit in doing that. It’s really inspiring.

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