Write these words on your heart: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’
Keep them close so that the next time you’re tempted to compare yourself with another, you’ll remember just what it’s costing you.
Comparison is something I once knew all too well. As a former fashion model, trust me when I say that the vast majority of models are caught in a relentless pattern of constant comparison with each other.
Instead of appreciating and developing their own beauty, they eye the other girl and always seem to find a reason to feel like ‘less than’. I call it the comparison trap.
That was certainly my case. Even when the other model was someone I liked or even a friend of mine, it was almost impossible for me to just ‘be’ in her presence without taking a careful mental inventory and seeing how I measured up in comparison.
And it made me miserable.
And yet, I should have known better. Because after all, I had been given a life-changing epiphany years before…
Lisa Townsend and I had been best friends since we were nine years old. We were like sisters; doing everything together, always laughing and having fun. But as we hit adolescence, she and I couldn’t have looked anything less like sisters.
By the time we were 13, Lisa had blossomed into a young Sophia Loren. She was petite and curvaceous, with olive skin and flowing, chestnut hair.
As for me, think Olive Oyl if she had been an albino.I was pale, covered in freckles and rail-thin. Oh, and let’s not forget the frizzy hair, braces and a headgear while being so tall I towered over everyone in my class, including the boys.
Yes, I was a piece of work and there was nowhere to hide.
I was very shy and extremely self-conscious; and I spent a lot of time and energy thinking how great life would be if I just looked like Lisa.
Every time I thought about it, I was robbed of my joy. But I can still remember the moment when things changed for me forever—at least on the inside.
I was walking down the halls of my high school, thinking of all I wanted to be and wasn’t, when suddenly it hit me like a bolt of lightning—the only thing I could do to look like Lisa would be to dye my hair brown.
That was it! Otherwise, my hair would still be frizzy, the freckles were here to stay, there were no curves in sight and I certainly wasn’t getting any shorter.
I realized then and there that since I could do nothing to change the outside, the best I could do, the best hope I had, would be to accept the way I was. To really accept it.
Since it was my only viable option, that’s what I did. And without realizing it at the time, I had what I call an ‘extreme Inner make-over”. I still looked the same on the outside, but now I was free. Free to live in peace with myself and see where that could take me.
I wasn’t quite 15 and a very long way from the runways of Paris. In fact, if someone had told me at that moment that’s where I’d be headed, I would have resented their cruel joke.
But that epiphany in the school corridors was crucial for me. If I hadn’t been able to accept who and what I was and ultimately use those very things to my advantage, I would never have even been open to the possibility of, let alone succeed at modeling when the dream of it would come to me, later down the road.
As I’ve already confessed, when I got into modeling the comparison trap opened its jaws wide once more, sucking me in. I guess the only thing I can say in my defense is that when it comes to a proving ground for self-esteem and confidence, very little can compare with the gladiator’s arena of the fashion world.
But thankfully I came out the other side with an even keener awareness of the truth that it is only when we stop comparing ourselves do we become truly incomparable.
Ken Kesey Jr. reminds us that “To be upset about what we don’t have is to waste what we do have.”
When we shift the focus of our attention and energies from what someone else is or has over to who we are and have we become available to all the potential and purpose that Life has laid out for us uniquely.
What might you be stopping yourself from becoming, expressing, enjoying and sharing by giving in to the comparison trap? What joys are you missing?
Don’t waste another second of your precious life, don’t squander your gifts, on that pointless and empty path.
en Kesey Jr. reminds us that “to be upset about what we don’t have is to waste what we do have.”
You owe it to yourself and to the world, quite literally, to accept yourself and love yourself so that you can embrace and then share your gifts in a way that only you can.
‘Il faut de tout pour faire un monde’, remember?
Oh, and Lisa? She is still beautiful, inside and out, and we are still friends. : )
To Your Best Life,