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Getting out of the Comparison Funk

Comparison Funk

“Comparison is the thief of joy” Why oh why are we stealing joy from ourselves?
Well comparison is inevitable. Yep! I said it. I believe it’s actually in our makeup. After all, thousands of years ago we HAD to size up the competition. It was survival, are you going to eat me and if so, can I outrun you… And all that stuff.
So, today we find ourselves in a very different time and place, no one is literally going to eat you but that instant reaction to compare and size-up. It’s still there, only now it doesn’t always serve to protect us… It often, hurts us!
Today I’m giving you straight and honest talk. I need to tell you how it really is and hope that I can save you from all this comparison and sizing-up that makes you believe that everyone else is somehow able to do it all. And further more, that since you can’t, you’re inadequacy must mean that you’re a failure because no matter how hard you keep trying…You. Just. Can’t. Keep. Up.
Well I haven’t met anyone who can keep up all the time (me included). Here’s my truth…

When I started this blog, I had time. My husband was an undergrad and worked nights on campus. My kiddos went right to bed at 8pm, and I would stay up and search the internet. One day not long into my journey as a photographer, I decided it would be really fun to start a blog of my own and document my process as I built my business. And it was fun. In fact, it was more than fun. Photography was my passion. Learning and absorbing it all was my addiction, and sharing was my purpose! I simply couldn’t get enough.

But along the way, some things changed. This absolutely crazy thing happened since that very first post I wrote while sitting in our tiny little apartment on the North Shore of Hawaii. People started reading it. Now remember, I started this blog because I was building my own business. That’s not where I was, but it’s where I wanted to be, and I was just sharing what I learned. A lot of things changed; we moved from Hawaii to Oregon, my husband began grad school, my kids got bigger, my posts got more frequent, and as my photography and my business model improved, I became busier and busier. All the while I wanted (so desperately) to be everything and do everything … and not just mediocre but with sparkle. I wanted to be it all, and why the heck not? Martha can do it. So I set out to…

Be a great mommy, be a good wife, make dinners (preferably complete with a pan sauce and garnish), do laundry, have clean bathrooms, put makeup on and look together before noon, volunteer, take great pictures, have incredible clients, make great sales, write 5 posts a week for this blog, catch people’s interest enough to comment on said posts (and never admit that I equate comments to my blog self-esteem),  and then of course, I want to be a good Christian who is heavily involved in my church and always ready to offer a helping hand.

Now let me break the reality of it down for you…

You have heard me say it before. I’m a broken record and I know it, but there — just — wasn’t –enough –hours in the day. So I manufactured more hours in the day, because I’m someone who does not handle failure very well.  I was determined to be it all, and for me “some” is not all and was not going to suffice for my personal expectations. I stopped sleeping, hired someone to clean house, and decided I needed an assistant. When I first hired her, one of my honest feelings was concern. I was concerned that she would see real parts of me, ugly parts of me, and anything she once admired would be ruined.

Even with all of this, I went to bed on average at about 5am because literally my head hit the key board and woke up at 7:30am.  Even though I had someone  clean the house once a week and hired a virtual assistant, I still couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I still couldn’t find time to sleep, and I had to schedule in time with my incredible man. I hated where I was and how I felt, but I didn’t know how to change it.

Because.  I.  Wanted.  It.  All.  I wanted to be everything for everyone… And yet despite such seemingly noble aspirations, all I could honestly say is that I felt like  a failure, and it was bleeding into every aspect of my life.

I know. It’s an ugly truth.

And I hope I didn’t just ruin all the nice things you may have thought of me five minutes ago, but the honest truth is that I was a mess on almost a daily basis.

When you try to be everything, you begin to fail at anything.

There I stood as a girl who really wanted to be something.  A driven girl who worked as hard as she could.  Yet I couldn’t figure out how to keep it in balance so that I could enjoy what I actually was accomplishing.

Every day I worked at changing it. The thing is this… I didn’t get to that place of total overwhelm and exhaustion all at once, and I wasn’t going to get out of it overnight either. Every single day, I had to think about it. I had to retrain myself until new positive habits replaced the parts of me that (if I being completely honest) I hated about myself.


We have one life. All the perceived awesomeness in the world will never compensate for shattered hearts behind closed doors. Build a life that makes you happy, not one that just looks amazing… and just maybe, you’ll get to be the inspiration that someone else needs in order to be rescued from their own comparison funk.



  1. Erin says:

    The struggle is real. By nature I have never been a particularly driven or competitive person, and in the times when I have failure has seemed inevitable. I am not the mommy I want to be most of the time, I never finished college, I never traveled or lived the dreams of those things I craved to do because marriage came quickly for me (and in that choice I have no regrets, I married the prefect man for me), and I have started, stopped, started again and put on hold what is in my mind a failing photography business time and time again due to a lack of resources, time, and clients (each of which seem to beget the other). I have begun to dream again at revisiting this career choice and dream as I watch friends around me take risks and start their own businesses in other areas and succeed phenomenally with them and I can’t help but wonder what my problem is, I worked hard and sacrificed and yet here I am and there they are. But know I am not alone as I have watched other (in my mind successful) photographers leave the game as well. I know success comes from hard work and sacrifice, but I feel that my hard work will be in vain (again) and my sacrifice will be my children’s childhood, both in making it special and my experiencing it due to exhaustion or commitments for a business that would inevitably happen during family out spouse time, when others are available to use my services. I’m scared to even start again. With a failing 8 year old low end camera, computer, and outdated (and slooow) Photoshop program, and a domain name about to expire I can’t help but wonder should I even try again? I feel like Teddy Roosevelt’s “man in the arena” but I don’t know if I can bring myself to rise again. I just feel so in a rut, yet motherhood just isn’t enough to fulfill me, and I feel wrong that it isn’t. Shouldn’t it be? This has been the hamster wheel of my brain, ever spinning yet never arriving where I would like to be. I share this not to garner sympathy but to offer empathy to others that may feel similarly, you are not alone. I don’t have the answer, but you are not alone. I’m grateful Leah for your infective inspiration, guidance, and generosity and I often feel guilty in my thoughts that I have let you down or seemingly wasted the gifts you’ve shared. You have been a great sensei and I have loved seeing your influence spread from it’s humble beginnings to touching the lives of tens of thousands (our more) and changing the lives of many. Thank you for always rising again.

    • Never, ever feel guilty on my account. We are all placed on this earth with our own experiences, challenges, gifts, talents, abilities, fears… None of us can truly appreciate or understand how another feels because we do not come with the millions of moments that have made them who they are. Keep standing up, keep trying new things, keep challenging yourself. Keep believing, keep hoping, keep dreaming. But don’t forget, dreams evolve, they can change. Maybe the reason photography has never felt quite right, is because it’s not the right dream. Maybe it’s time for a new dream. Or maybe it’s time to take that same dream but approach it with a completely new direction.

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