Get Out of the Comparison Funk

I am one of those people who literally can’t seem to stop pushing myself.  

I have to be getting better; I have to be improving all-the-time.  Standing still feels nearly impossible for me; in fact, it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

But there is a difference between trying to top my own best and trying to top someone else’s best.  When we try to be our own ‘best,’ we are welcoming growth and possibilities.  We are giving ourselves permission to be our own ‘enough.’

But when we compare ourselves to others, we demoralize our confidence and stunt our own opportunities for growth.  It’s an ugly cycle, uglier than you may realize.  Let me show you what I mean…

When I decide to compare myself, I don’t play fair.  I choose someone who is playing their personal A-game, and then I continue to measure us against each other using their absolute best attributes and my merely so-so attributes.  It’s like comparing Kate Beckinsale on the Red Carpet to my just-got-out-of-bed ‘look.’  So – Not – Fair.  Even Kate didn’t stand a chance when she first woke up that morning.

The point is, we are typically very unfair when we compare.  We consider only all of their very best attributes and pretend that they don’t have any of their own insecurities or trials […or cheerios stuck to their butt from the last chubby-fingered hug. (Was that last one just me?)].  

We see only the perfect, usually through very rose-colored-glasses I might add, and we then compare ourselves, not ever considering that we are usually in the midst of our own struggles… And then we can’t figure out why things aren’t coming together the way we want?  Enough!

Give yourself permission to be authentically and genuinely you.  

You hear it all the time: the advise of the “already made it’s.”  And they are constantly advocating, “Be yourself,” “Be authentic,” “Find your own voice.”  There is a reason, and it’s not just because they are sick of all the copycats.  It’s because they know that it was only by staying true to themselves that they were able to stand out.

There already is a _______________ (insert whoever you secretly wish you could be).  The world doesn’t need another.  And the world won’t make room for another, either.  But you.  Of you, there has never been another.  There is room in the world for you to shine.

Now I’d like to bring this back to where we started.  I’m not suggesting that you stay exactly as you are.  We should always be growing.  Always be leanring.  Always striving to be better.  But be your better, not someone else’s.

 You have your own unique voice,  your own incredible talents and attributes.  You were not left out in the predetermined talent show; God didn’t forget you.

Give yourself permission to be all that you need to be to succeed, and then push and mold and train yourself to be your best.  You are enough.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Leah – once I realized that that type of mindset and behavior was going to rub off on my children – once I realized they were old enough to notice – I really made an effort to stop pushing myself into absolute insanity. I still have to STOP and CHECK MYSELF constantly. I want my children to be satisfied and happy with who they are.

    • That’s such a great perspective Elizabeth! Our actions say way more to or children then our words do!! I know that’s true, and I try really hard to do the same. Sometimes I feel like there is this fine line between wanting to push yourself and grow and that being confused with not being satisfied. I believe in and love hard work…. Because I love the results that it produces but I also want to to teach my children to stop and observe and just enjoy all that they have. You know???

  2. OKAY… So in the newsletter, I told you I’d let you in on what my new hobbies are. And just to preface, I’m not normally this much of a go-getter. It might have something to do with being 30 and needing to prove to myself that I still have tons to accomplish left in my life! {Maybe}

    I have taken up running for about 3 months!! I run at 6am – 6 days a week and I’ll admit it, I’m super proud of myself!!
    I am taking tennis lessons and loving it!! (I’m on week 4 and my tennis coach started at 28 and won silver for the Senior Olympics!)
    I am looking into starting a fencing class with my hubby and another couple (you just never know when you might be challenged to a duel right?)
    I’m reading 4 personal finance books because I am determined to know (for myself) how to handle my money!
    I’m attempting to learn Spanish (I want to be tri-lingual before I’m 40)

    How about you??

    Have you taken up anything new lately OR what is one thing you’ve always wanted to learn?

  3. Katelyn C. says:

    I’m taking pics in water!! and growing my biz!

    I want to learn how to do a summersault

  4. Audrey says:

    So I saw your post on Facebook, and your lie is that you are taking up fly fishing. That’s so great that you’re running! I absolutely LOVE running. 🙂 It’s one of my favorite things ever.

    One thing that I’ve taken up semi-recently is rock climbing with my husband. I absolutely love it, and so does he, so it’s a lot of fun to challenge each other. We’ve learned to lead-climb (not top-rope, your normal introduction to climbing), and we’re just getting more into using bouldering as a workout to make us stronger as well. It’s a TON of fun. 🙂

    I can’t wait to get out and take some more photos of us climbing!

    • I would LOVE to learn to rock climb… My hubby and i have been talking about ti for years. I’m kinda like a Spider Monkey (I did not just quote Twilight did I?) so I think I might be semi decent at it. Anyway – that is awesome! I’d love to learn to do what you’re doing someday!

  5. Melanie says:

    I’ve taken up Juicing this Summer! The green juice/smoothies aren’t as bad as I thought they would be, but the texture of the smoothie does take some getting used to! 🙂

  6. Joanne Lee says:

    Hi Leah!
    I can see you AREN’T taking up fly-fishing to answer your question on FB. 🙂
    Good for you for doing so many new things. Running!! Tennis!

    I began my “lifestyle renovation” a few years ago and set some goals. One of which was to run a 5k. I have now run 7 of them!! This year I will be running my first 10k! I love the quote to do one thing everyday that scares you. The thought of running a 5k scared me silly, so I have faced that fear! Onward and upward to a 10k!

    So happy for you with the new challenges! Go LEAH!
    Joanne

  7. I have recently started my own newborn photography business, which is something I never would have thought possible but I’m loving every minute of it. I am also a jogger and would love to run my first 5K and, eventually, a half marathon. Also, my husband and I are are thinking about learning Italian for the next time we go back to Italy. 🙂

  8. Stacy Espinoza says:

    I’ve taken up photography and also have started getting crafty lately trying to make my own props.

  9. Elizabeth Johns says:

    the lie is… “i am taking up fly fishing” …. But … i think it is amazing that you are doing all these other things!!! 🙂 good for you!

  10. Liz F says:

    Do you speak a second language already, or do you have to learn two still? I am bilingual– English and French! I would love to learn Spanish, also.
    I have started taking a new class at my local gym on weight lifting (something I’ve never done and never thought I would). I’m loving it though! I would love to take some painting classes. I took one watercolor class last year but then kind of forgot about it… : /

    • Only one so far so I have LONG way to go! I wanted to start with French since we had required French class in grade school (I’m hoping it will come back a little) but my hubs wants to learn Spanish to better communicate with his patients so I figured I’d start there. Then it will be French and if I get both of those, I want to add Italian! 🙂

  11. Christal says:

    I’ve taken up Zumba !!!! I love it and I’ve lost 40lbs. My next goal is running 🙂 I feel great and dropping the pounds is a plus.

    • Oh my goodness Christal! That is amazing! Congratulations!! I want to start adding in zoomba for when the weather gets bad, do you do a class or at home? I’ll be doign it at home before the kiddos wake up.

  12. Carlin says:

    You are so busy!!! I don’t know how you fit it all in:-) I would love to learn to knit! I have talented family members who do it for me…so i’ve never taken the time to learn:-)

  13. Misha says:

    I knew it wouldn’t be fly fishing!

    I’m seriously thinking about getting certified to teach yoga. OK, that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is to me!

  14. I’ve not taken up anything new lately, but I do want to start running every other day. I know it’ll be something that will let me forget the stresses of the day and improve my mood 🙂

  15. Mallika says:

    Just started a Money Matters bootcamp to get me on track with my biz financials. Totally trying something different and out of my comfort zone 🙂

  16. Hi Leah! Great article! It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others, but I have been trying to focus more on my business and not on what others around me are doing! When people hire me, they wanted to hire me, not another photographer{insert any name}! Thank you!! 🙂 For the giveaway – you are not learning to fly fish!

  17. PS -I plan to take up running once the kids go back to school in 3 weeks!! Everyone I know who has started running loves it!!!

  18. Renee says:

    Something new…believing in myself! Though that’s not a hobby but something I certainly need to work on. Something I would love to start is voice lessons. I did it while growing up but have missed it so much. I’d love to continue. 🙂

  19. My hubby and I took up swing dancing a few years ago and we LOVE it!!:) Recently, I have started the long process of learning to make my own fonts! I love typography, so I figured why not!? 🙂

  20. Jenn A says:

    I have always wanted to learn Italian. After I get over this chronic illness, I want to travel and be fully immersed in to the culture there. One of my goals is to actually look like I think know what I am doing. lol

  21. Kim Larsen says:

    My 2 1/2 year old daughter and I took a mom&me gymnastics class this summer. I always wanted to be a gymnast growing up, but the closest place to learn gymnastics was at least 4 hours away from where I grew up so I never had a chance to learn. At 31, I’m certainly not going to be competing in the Olympics or anything, but it was fun to help my daughter learn the basics…she learned how to walk on the balance beam, pull herself up on the bars, flip/swing on the rings, do somersaults, & bounce on the giant trampolines.

  22. Jamie Wheeler says:

    Well u are definitely not flyfishing! I recently taken up going to the gym! Have been working out with a trainer and they have day care so I get a little peaceful time to myself and I feel so much better! I’ve always loved photography and I gave also been devoting more time to it and learning more!

  23. Denise H says:

    I am going to be 50 in November. 2 years ago on my birthday I vowed to be in the beat shape of my life when I turned 50! I have lost 25 pounds am at my go weight and just started doing crossfit. I am challenged beyond anything I’ve ever done and loving it!

  24. “Ive always wanted to learn cake decorating. I took a class once but then got busy and it died off.

  25. I haven’t taken up anything new, I’ve just been trying new things with my photography which has been a lot of fun!!! My goal is to keep experimenting with new techniques to help keep me creative when on a shoot. Plus it keeps a smile on my face as well.

  26. Leigh W says:

    The lie is “taking up fly fishing”. What have I been up to…

    At 45 I decided to self-improve and took a camera class…well one silly thing led to another and one short year later I have opened a studio and have a healthy stream of clients. CLIENTS are something I thought only attorneys had!

    I have finally given myself permission, after raising my kids, to do something for ME. The funny thing is the tables have turned…instead of me telling my kids how proud I am of them…they are telling me how proud they are of me.

    Who da thunk it!

    I

    • That is so awesome! And your kids are still learning incredibly valuable lessons from you – maybe one of the most! Because they are learning to go for their dreams! So – so – awesome!!

  27. P.S. I want to SEE that summersault get mastered, take a video and upload it to the go4pro Facebook page – no matter if you win or not today, I’ll send you the iphone templates!

  28. What? No fly fishing? Well, you’ve sure caught my attention. I love your posts & your work. Thanks for the inspirations!

    I am re-committed to working out 4-5 x a week! Day 2, so far so good!

    • You can do it!!! I don’t know how many times I started thinking about running (maybe 1,000,000?) before I actually just made it happen! This is your time, I know it!

  29. Jen says:

    I want to make some new good habits…eating right, exercising -but have them be habits-not just random things I do now and then!

    • Isn’t that the trick… To make things a lifestyle and not a fad! Well it sounds like you’re going to make it happen because you already know what stops you so you’ll know how to avoid it! 🙂

  30. I had this idea to put a camera on me all day to show what my day is like and then speed it up so that it’s only a couple minutes! 🙂 That would be quite a challenge in and of itself!

  31. Anna Chipman says:

    Fly fishing is the thing that you are not doing and I am so excited for you in getting to learn about the other two things! I look forward to doing more of those things once my son is a little older.

    My two year old son and I just started taking a painting class after finishing up swim lessons. I love watching him learn about new things and seeing how he changes after he has tried them. Today he said that painting was scary but I bet he is gonna love getting his hands in the paint after learning that it is something really fun!

    Learning and improving is something that we can NEVER get enough of! I love to learn!!

  32. My hobby right now is the Thriving Photographer. I am committed to making my business more profitable and to get it running more smoothly.

    I really enjoy reading in my down time. I have started to read the classics. I read a list of 100 books that are “must reads” and I would like to have read them all before I’m 40, I have 8 years to go!!!

    Another great blog post Leah! Thank you!

  33. kristen rake says:

    So true! Thanks for not fly fishing and the blog

  34. So no fly fishing, huh?

    My head is rattling with all the things I would love to do but one thing at a time. I’ve recently taken up sewing and am making my daughter’s dresses for when we talk our family photos this fall.

  35. In response to your post on Facebook – #2 (fly fishing) is the lie!

    In response to this post, it is so hard to not compare yourself to others around you. I know that I had the hardest time when starting out in the photography business…But one day, it just clicked! I am my own unique self and as inspired (or intimidated in the beginning) as I am by others, I need to just take the leap and not be afraid. Everyone fails at one point…become wiser from your mistake and grow! Thank you for this post!!

  36. Keri Brecht says:

    The lie is that you are learning fly fishing. You are such a go-getter and inspire me to keep pushing myself to do anything and everything my heart desires! 🙂

    I am also trying to learn Spanish. 🙂 My boyfriend is from a Spanish-speaking country, so my level of Spanish is increasing, but I still want to learn much more. Are you taking an actual class or using something like Rosetta Stone?

    • That is awesome! I wish I had someone to speak it too… Actually I do but not in my own house. I’m just doing the Rosetta Stone version for now. Does anyone actually know anyone who did Rosetta Stone and had it work? Or is it one of those things where it’s like your sister’s friend’s cousin who saw the alien? 😉

  37. Tenesha says:

    Hey Leah, you’re doing a lot of things but fly fishing isn’t one of them,lol
    The Hubbs and I have recently started Midnight Dipping in the Neighborhood pool after he gets home from work (lol)
    thanks for the late afternoon FUN….

    • Hmmm. Did you leave out the word skinny? 😉 That is AWESOME! I seriously LOVE that, what a great way to reconnect and have some fun at the end of the day! 😀 I need a pool, or at least a neighbor with a pool. Hmmm – Is that a kiddy pool I see in the Smith’s backyard? LOL! Oh how I crack myself up!

  38. Juli says:

    I haven’t taken up anything new lately because I have been so busy editing photos!!! I have always wanted to learn to ride a horse, though!

    • Me too!! I’ve ridden but not with any skills! One of my bucket list items is to gallop through an open field on a horse – (preferably looking like Merida from Brave!)

  39. Nicole D says:

    What a great post! It is so true!

    Really, no fly fishing?! I don’t do it either, but I think that I’d like to try it someday…it seems like it could be oddly relaxing.

    Good for you and your committment to running! 🙂 I started running again this year and completed my first half marathon at the end of April! It was AWESOME and I actually cried as I was crossing the finish line because I was so proud of myself and what I had accomplished. 🙂 Something that I have recently started doing with my family (husband and our two boys who are 18 & 16) is obstacle course racing and it is FUN! We completed a Warrior Dash (5k distance) in June and next on our list is a Tough Mudder (11-12 miles long) in September and a Super Spartan Race (8-9 miles) at the end of October.

    I am also working on using my manual settings on my camera (Nikon D7000) more often and always strive to improve my photography skills!

    • I totally agree on the fly finishing and I actually do want to try it some day… That day just isn’t this one! My hubs loves to fly fish and he says women are supposed to be way better at it because we are more graceful! SO there you go! I picture a River Runs through it and yes that seems heavenly!

      Okay so the obstacle races… My hubs just did a Spartan and a Warrior and now he’s doing the next 2 Spartans (8 & 12). I watched him do the Warrior dash and I think I’m going to do it next year! After seeing that one, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be… Still don’t think I’m up for Spartan (you’re amazing BTW) but Warrior… I think I just might be able to do that one!! I’m actually pretty excited to try!

      And as for Manuel… You will be so proud of yourself for that!! That is a such a good goal!

  40. Leah, I’m so inspired by you! Thank you for giving so much of yourself and your talent. When you give, you never stop getting back. I certainly feel that way when I work my Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep sessions. I’m working on one right now and just knowing that so few people could give these parents what I can give them is enough to make me go back session after session. It’s photographers like you who gave me the inspiration to get started in the first place. Thank you!

  41. Oh, and let’s do a photographer team in the Ragnar races. That would be awesome!

  42. Valerie says:

    I’ve always wanted to learn a new language or two myself…and then travel to that country for an adventure without worrying about a guide or interpreter. 🙂

  43. Ellen says:

    So you’re not flyfishing??? I would’ve bet money it was the fencing. 🙂

    I’m about to turn 40 (gasp!) so I’m trying to start eating healthier. Wish me luck!

  44. Such great advice! I’ve struggled with this in the past and realized that my comparisons aren’t fair, like you said. I’ve even moaned about how much better someone is at newborn photography than I am, and I don’t even have a desire to shoot newborns!! I love boudoir photography and I have a feeling that I could smoke that other photographer in a contest over boudoir photography. haha! But I forget that part of it, too often.

    • I know, right? I’ve done the same thing!! I’ve even thought maybe I should take a newborn workshop to learn more and then I’m like, WAIT! I don’t even photograph newborns anymore! Ha!

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