Food For Thought:
C is for comparison
When I got to the office yesterday a big package was already waiting for me at my desk – the most beautiful surprise from Chloé, who I’ve been working with since last year. While I was unpacking this package I felt such a big strike of gratitude going through my heart. Being out there running your own business can be such a lonely and frustrating place. I’m questioning myself more than I’d like to admit and sometimes I feel very alone with all the decisions I have to make for my business and myself every day. There are tons of collaboration request that I turn down every month because I simply feel the products don’t fit to me. Although there is a lot of revenue lost by doing so, I learned that it’s the only way to build a brand that I can 100% identify with. This is crucial considering this brand I have to identify with is no one less than myself.
One of the tasks that have helped me find out what I want this brand I’m building to look like, was creating a vision board. You may have heard of the term “vision board” before. It’s basically a pin board that I fill with things that inspire me. Mostly those things are photos and quotes. But it’s also certain brands which style and aesthetics I admire. One of those brands I pinned on my board when I started blogging was Chloé – for two reasons: First of all, I fell in love with the scent of Chloé Eau de Parfum when it was re-launched in 2008. Back then, I received it as a present from my Mom for Valentine’s Day (if I remember correctly), and it has become my signature scent for the past 10 years. Secondly, I love Chloé for their luscious, body-conscious clothing that evokes a carefree spirit with a bohemian twist.
Owning a little piece of their ready-to-wear collection has been a big dream ever since: Flowing silky dresses in pastel colors, cream colored blouses with embroidery, statement shoes and bags that are all to die for… While 10 years ago the only thing I was able to afford was the perfume, I started saving money for their iconic pieces and was able to fulfill myself some of my Chloé dreams by now. While I was unpacking this gorgeous bag that Chloé sent me as a belated Christmas gift for our collaboration in 2018, I was reminded about all the amazing opportunities that have opened up for me since I decided to follow my heart and turned blogging into my full-time job.
Some days I have to pinch myself when I look back at all the cool brands I was able to collaborate with, all the amazing trips I was invited to and all the fascinating people I got to meet along the way. However, there are other days where the only thing I do is doubting myself. On those days, I have the feeling that I have no idea what I’m doing. In times of dropping Instagram followers and missing engagement, I often ask myself if blogging and all the effort I put into my content is even worth it… These are exactly the days when I feel I have reached rock bottom, and I start comparing myself to other bloggers, or even other woman outside the blogging industry.
Comparison is the death of joy.
One of the ugly sides of following your dreams and being successful at what you’re doing is competition. Something I’ve had to deal with since I was in school – I’ve always had more haters than friends, to say it colloquially. This is something that has hurt me very much back then, but looking at it retrospectively, it has taught me very much about life and has tremendously contributed to the person I am today. As in all circumstances of life, there is a lot of competition going on in the blogging business. Of course – because basically we are all competing for the same campaigns, to work with the same brands and to be invited to the same events and press trips. And most of all, we are competing for the attention of our readers. We are all dependent on you guys out there – our readers, who stop by here and are actually interested in what we have to say or show. But still – to me, this overly competitive behavior that is going on sometimes does not make any sense at all. When I started blogging I have always tried to be all about collaboration versus competition, and I’ve tried to connect with bloggers who inspired me. Some of those connections even turned into new business opportunities, and some of those business opportunities turned into friendships that I would not want to miss in my life anymore (hii Kathi & Vicky).
If you’re not a blogger but solely someone who enjoys reading blogs, you’re probably wondering how bloggers are competitive with each other. Competition in the blogosphere is not much different than in other business or aspect of life. It means talking trash behind each others’ backs at events, saying things like how Blogger xy has bought her followers by using like-bots or by doing giveaways all the time. It’s questions like, “oh, so how many followers do you have?”, instead of asking any other relevant question about life. It’s actions like being asked for help with certain things, and then not being given any credit at all. It’s copying someone’s work 1:1 – I’m not talking about outfits, but literally copy/pasting entire blogposts. And – even if you could argue this behavior is rather fake than competitive – it’s connecting with other bloggers based on who can give you the most visibility and help you get more followers, and not who can help you grow the most as a human being. Or, you know, who you actually like the most as a person.
When people are competitive with each other, it can be very nasty… but it’s not always super visible if you’re not aware of it. This behavior surely is found in any other business or aspect of life as well – maybe your co-workers are talking behind your back because you’ve just climbed the job ladder while they haven’t. Or maybe you’re a Mom and have managed to loose all your baby weight in 9 months, while other Moms haven’t and now they are bitching about you.
I’ve asked myself: Why are we all so competitive with each other?
I think the answer is quite simple: We all tend do compare ourselves with each other all the time. Bloggers compare themselves to other bloggers. Women compare themselves to other women. The same way a mother might compare herself to another mother, or how a manager might compare herself to her colleagues’ management styles. That’s just a natural behavior. In fact, I think I would not be where I am today if I wasn’t comparing myself to other bloggers. But here’s the thing: You have to know how to compare yourself with someone and then turn the insight you gained from this comparison into something that helps you grow.
Most of the time, we find ourselves comparing to someone because we feel insecure. But the truth is, when we become aware of another woman’s power, beauty or talent it’s up to us to decide how we respond to that: We can either envy them, copy them, or admire them:
The Envious Woman
From my experience, a woman who envies another woman’s success most likely doesn’t like herself very much or simply is very unhappy with herself. Seeing someone else’s success does not inspire this kind of woman that she has all the possibilities to be as successful too, but rather drives her to work doggedly on whatever it is she is envious about. All she wants to do is prove to herself and to others that she is better than this other woman. This path of envy is a very dangerous one that doesn’t lead anywhere else than to a dark hole – a hole that’s very lonely and painful, and hard to get out of.
When I think of all the women who have been envious about me over the years for whatever reason (some of them expressed it quite openly, others did it behind my back), I have learned that these women did so because they did not feel happy with themselves. I’ve always been a very confident girl, and most girls who envied me were the complete opposite because they haven’t grown into their personalities yet. Instead of using the time and energy to make unhealthy vows like “I’ll show her that she isn’t better than me” or even worse “I’ll take her down”, we should focus on improving and accepting ourselves. While being envious can be a very productive energy by becoming the motivating force that makes women strive forward (think of fitness models you see on Instagram that make you go to the gym, because you aspire to look like them), it is also very destructive, because the foundation which it is built on is pure negativity.
The Copy Cat
If you haven’t ever copied another woman, raise your hand. I bet you didn’t raise your hand now, did you? If you did, think back to your early childhood days and you’ll have the answer why it’s merely impossible that you’ve never copied someone. The first woman you ever copied was very likely your own mother. No matter if it’s certain words or gestures you mimicked, or wanting to have the same shoes or clothes your Mom did. It’s in our nature to admire successful, strong woman who we feel inspired by. Some women however take it to an extreme level and try to transform themselves into a carbon copy of another woman. The type of woman who is a copy cat has probably not found her own personality yet. She’s insecure because she does not know yet who exactly she is and what she stands for. She just wants to blend in and be exactly like this other woman she admires so much. What copy cats haven’t learned yet is that duplication is never truly possible. And even if it seems possible at first, it will never be truly fulfilling. At the end of the day, everything that makes us truly feel good about ourselves does not come from the outside, but from the inside only.
I firmly believe that in order to be happy and in peace with ourselves, we have to accept ourselves first. Our gifts, our strength, our quirks and everything in-between. Copy cats work tirelessly to create a fake version of themselves based on someone else’s dreams and goals. Imagine all the energy and effort this behavior takes. Instead of trying to be someone else, we should all be true to ourselves and our talents. Or do you want to live your life studying another person thoroughly before deciding whether you should take an action or not? This is exhausting. It’s great to be inspired by someone (if you are, give credit – it doesn’t hurt), but rather than being a cheap 1:1 version of someone else, wouldn’t you rather want to be the very best version of your own self and powerfully focus on your own plan for your life?
The Admiring Woman
If a woman admires another woman, she can only do so because she knows what it required that woman to get to that point. They know that in order to attain whatever they admire about this woman, it took hard work, purposeful decisions, a lot of dedication, and a commitment to self-improvement. No matter if we admire this women for her career, for her lean and strong body, or for her family. If you’re one of those women who admire other women’s success and brilliance, I want to congratulate you: This is exactly the choice we as women should all be striving for when we are comparing each other. Once we realize we are all swimming in this enormous sea full of beautiful fish, who all have the greatest potential and possess their own kind of beauty, we will all find our peace of mind. If you’re a woman who can admire another woman and express that admiration openly, you won’t even have time anymore to to compete with another woman, or the energy to waste on envy, because you understood that this time and energy is far better invested in yourself.
It’s up to you to choose which kind of woman you want to be.
In a world where a “like” is as easily acquired as a sandwich at the super marktet, I truly hope we all get to understand that this kind of “acceptance by others” is totally meaningless unless we actually like ourselves. Sometimes we are all so busy living our life out loud that we forget to deal with the true state of our hearts. Of course it is so much easier to let the voice of the crowd you follow on Instagram or any other social platform guide you – but the validation the little girl inside us is seeking there is not what we should be striving for.
Women who are overly competitive and compare themselves to other women haven’t yet learned how important it is to look at themselves in the mirror and say “I like me the way I am. And yes, that includes my thighs, my belly, my brain. I am enough, my education was enough and so was my upbringing.” Only when we realize that the only “like” that truly matters is that we like the little girl we see in the mirror, we will be free to live a life that honors our true self. A life that doesn’t allow any comparison, because it is so unique and wonderful that it is impossible to compare it to anyone else’s
As far as I am concerned, I have to make this choice about the woman I want to be every day anew. Some days it’s easy and I’m at peace with myself, but there are days on which I’m struggling with this decision, too.
My wish for all of us women out there – be it bloggers, business owners, employees, students, or mothers – is that we understand that we are all “good enough”. Only then we will be able to experience personal growth, feel confident and will automatically be at peace with ourselves. When there’s peace, there’s joy – and no room for silly comparison anymore.