by Carrie Householder
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Pic by by Justyna Ka Photography
Why I Broke Up with Comparison!
I don’t know if I am late to the party, but I only just discovered #socalitybarbie. I sat on my couch in laugh-tears as I read post after post of satire on the Instagram perfection that is presented as average life. When I finished my guffawing, wiped my eyes dry, and completed my witty FB share alerting the world to this comedic genius, I started to feel a familiar poking sensation in my spirit. It was a visit from a faithful but annoying friend, Conscience. Her gentle but insistent finger was prodding me, reminding me that I didn’t enjoy satire as much as I was enjoying this feed. She promptly poked me again and asked me why I thought that was?
I was busted and I knew it. Holy Spirit outed. My motives were suspect although I wasn’t totally sure why, so I proceeded to unpack them as best I could with divine help.
#socalitybarbie is an Instagram feed. Ah, Instagram, are you friend or foe? You naturally attract creatives who make beautiful things that deserve to be shared with the world. Anyone who wants to paint the world in beauty has my enthusiastic support. Those with a gift for visual design are also brilliant at using the platform to craft stylish personal brands. So where is the foe in that? I can’t speak for you, but as Conscience and I chatted over a heart-adorned half-caf almond mocha (post coming soon), I realized the answer could be described in one word: comparison.
If I am honest about my own history viewing Instagram, I have always perceived that I am surrounded by people who are a lot better than me at all of the things I am most passionate about. Over time, the very people I followed for inspiration became a constant supply of condemnation as I mentally kept score of just how much better they were. I wasn’t as focused on their accolades (likes, shares, etc) as I was on the way they made it look so easy to do what I desperately wanted to but couldn’t. Sadly, instead of recognizing the madness of my mental comparisons, my first instinct was to stop sharing anything I made that didn’t meet the standard I had allowed others to set for me. I posted less because my posts were not, by my comparative standard, good enough. Then I allowed that to translate to my creative output - which I somehow reasoned must also not be good enough. Soon I found myself with less and less of a desire to engage in creativity at all.
One of the reasons I think it was so satisfying to see satire like #socalitybarbie out there is because in reality, any standard of perfection is not authentic. Before long, neither was my personal feed. And worse, neither was my creative process. Instead of tapping into the expression of God through me, I was starting every project with a mental picture of what it was going to look like on Instagram when it was done. I was between a social media rock and a creative hard place - the result of a landslide that I started myself.
Some will tell you comparison is bad because it opens the door to envy. That’s true, but it is way worse than that. I allowed it, for a season, to destroy the integrity of what God put inside of me. It destroyed the joy of unearthing that piece of Him that can’t be communicated to the world in any other way than through my songs, my writing, my art, and yes, even my marmalade. And when I allowed that to happen I was failing my mission. He loves me anyway - I am confident in this. But I am not built to fail, so I embraced the process and changed my habits. I consume less Instagram, I create more. It’s the best I can do until I am able to fully renew my noodle. I just wish I had some Jedi goodness to give me hope for rising above comparison in my mind. Wait, maybe I do…
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…” (Romans 12:2). There is so much life in those words. How lucky are we that He has signed up for the transforming part of it all? PHEW. Now all I have to worry about is that little bit that comes right before it - letting Him.