The Real Shit

Comparison Kills Creativity and Joy

My goal for 2018 was to be more open and honest about my life but I haven’t held up my end of the promise. I still haven’t found a balance between creating content, new projects that have taken my attention, staying healthy, and tending to all my relationships. During the last year, I’ve been writing in my journal and synthesizing everything so that one day, I can share all the wisdom I’ve learned. I think I’m finally ready to start sharing some thoughts.

I’ve always prided myself on not caring about what others were doing and being true to myself (e.g. not going to an ivy league college, not getting married young, not being obsessed with having kids, and etc.) Last Fall, I experienced something I had never felt before – the darkness of comparison. The moment my eyes would open to wake up, I would go on to Instagram and see what everyone else was posting. I would start my day already feeling inadequate. It was making me into an ungrateful person and I was starting to feel bitter.

When I started to take this travel blogging and content creation thing seriously, I was paralyzed by the feeling that I wasn’t good enough. It seemed like while I was working my corporate finance job, the whole world already knew the secrets to Instagram and amassed millions of followers. I came into the game with a measly 500 followers (thanks friends and family!). I kept asking myself, how can I compete with this? I don’t have an Instagram boyfriend so who’s going to take my photos? I’m not in my 20’s!! Am I too old? Feeling these emotions sucked out all the creativity out of my mind and killed any joy I had for taking photos and traveling. It also diminished me into thinking that I wasn’t unique and that I had nothing great to offer this world.

It can be soul crushing to constantly expose yourself to Instagram and scroll through everyone’s perfect bodies, lives, travels, and boyfriends. Even me, who believed I was “stronger” than that fell into the comparison game. I made a conscious decision that I would only go forward with this career choice if I took active steps to stop comparing myself. I read Brene Brown’s quote that really hit home, “Stay in your lane. Comparison kills creativity and joy.” The emotions I was feeling were results of the stories I made up in my head. It was my responsibility to change my mindset.

I started reading self-improvement books like Rising Strong by Brene Brown and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert just to name two. There are so many more I will write a separate post on my favorite books. I listened to tons of podcasts like Oprah’s Super Soul, Girlboss, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vee and School of Greatness by Lewis Howes. I’m also a quote queen and I find most of them on Pinterest, yes I’m that person. A big thing I also did was an audit of all the people I surrounded myself with. Jim Rohn famously said that you are the average of the five people you most associate yourself with. Take a look around; if there is a negative nancy who is always bringing you down or talking shit about everyone and everything, maybe it’s time to say goodbye. This was definitely the hardest step for me because I believe in friendship and loyalty but it’s made such a huge difference in my life to have positive people. You need to surround yourself with people who push you and who believe in you more than you do.

I was always someone who kept journals but now I write in mine every morning when I wake up and sometimes before I go to bed. I write down 3 things I’m grateful for, dreams that I had from the night before, wishes and fears. During the last year, I’ve been meditating every day and it’s made a HUGE difference for my mindset. I always used to think meditation was for Buddhist monks but now I can’t go a day without it. We have 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day that is 35 – 48 thoughts per minute. I’ve come to learn that meditation helps you filter all of those thoughts. The minute a negative thought enters my head, I say to myself, “that’s how the old Laura used to think. We don’t think like that anymore. Boy bye.”

Remember when I said that the first thing I used to do right when I woke up was to look at my phone? The new me doesn’t look at my phone until I’ve written in my journal, meditated and worked out so it’s about 2 hours after I have woken up. I don’t look at my phone until I’m in a content state in my head and heart. I also started time blocking on Instagram so 1 hour 3 times a day: Morning, around noon and evening. I still think 3 hours a day on Instagram is a lot of time! It’s great to like, comment and follow others but I’m more about living IRL.

I full-heartedly believe that there is enough abundance for everyone and we each offer our own creative gifts. I’ve learned that there is no need for comparison because we each have our own unique perspective on our experiences. So no two people can have the same kind of “success.” Now when I look at Instagram and see perfectly edited and styled photos (I am guilty too), I don’t compare myself, I get inspired. One thing we all have to remember is that social media is a curated version of everyone’s lives. Not many people share their struggles, the heartaches, and the hustle because it’s not sexy. I do feel a certain level of responsibility though to be real and that’s why I want to share more of my experiences.

I oftentimes look at this photo from the Rio Olympics. It’s a perfect example of Brene Brown’s quote to stay in your lane because clearly, Michael Phelps was focusing on his own lane. He eventually won the gold medal.