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Do You Compare Yourself?

December 23, 2009

One of my biggest weaknesses is that I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to others.  Consequently I have always struggled with low self-confidence because I often feel that I can’t quite measure up.  So who am I trying to measure up to?  And why?  Why do I care?  I’m not really sure why.  And while I haven’t quite figured out that part of the equation, I have been able to determine the three things that make me the most self-conscious.

1. My height – at 5’8″ I am really not that tall, but put me in a room with my father’s Indian family and I feel like Big Bird. Since my parents and sister are not super tall, my brother and I can likely blame our height on the hormone-laden milk we used to drink by the gallons. There was no such thing as organic milk back then but you better believe organic milk is all I will let Maya drink. (Poor kid has my wild hair so if I can spare her from being taller than me, well, it’s the least I can do). 

2. My weight – until I had Maya I actually struggled with being too skinny. I never really had a problem with being so thin but people would not-so-subtly comment that I must be anorexic.  Very annoying.  After Maya was born and I turned 30 the opposite happened and the scale started shifting upwards, ever so slightly.  That was when I had to learn how to eat properly so that I could maintain my size (hence how I found out that blogs existed). Recently I’ve had to face the facts that even though the number on the scale is now the same as it used to be, I will never actually look the same as I used to. I will never have Victoria Beckham’s abs!  I need to make peace with this and move on! 

3. My skin – I think my father could feed a small country for the amount of money he paid to my dermatologist. My skin was never really terrible, thank God, but it was bad enough where people would ask me what was wrong with my face. (While my father’s family are a bunch of very smart people they apparently didn’t do as well in Tact 101). In my teens and twenties I tried every topical and ingestible medicine out there to no avail. It was only when I cut out sugar a couple of years ago that my skin improved dramatically. How frustrating that the dermatologist simply didn’t suggest that I do that in the first place? As a matter of fact he never once asked about my eating habits. And I guess it makes sense because then my father wouldn’t have spent a decade writing checks to him!  So while things are much better, I would still love to have flawless, perfect skin.

While all of the aforementioned things have affected my self-confidence, my main flaw remains that I routinely compare myself to others. 

First it was to my older sister.  Who doesn’t look up to their older sister?  And because I did look to her for guidance and reassurance when we were growing up, I realize now how much her so-called teasing really affected me.  Her references to me looking like “Conan the Barbarian” on a particularly frizzy hair day really stuck with me and certainly didn’t make me feel better about myself.  Nor did my uncle’s suggestion that I should be pleased I at least got the brains because my sister got all the looks.  (My father’s family is really quite insane come to think of it).

I also compare myself to my friends.  For example, a few weeks ago we went to a friend’s house and I actually made an effort to look decent. I put on nice clothes, I put on makeup (this happens once in a millenium), and I broke out the flatiron to tame my hair into submission. I thought I looked good and I felt good too. And then I ran into a friend who always looks impeccable, from top to bottom, and I felt like a giant mess – too tall, hair a mess, not dressed properly, etc. 

Have you ever read Shopaholic Takes Manhattan?  If not you should definitely check out the entire series starting with Confessions of a Shopaholic which is far superior to the movie by the way. (Actually I have read and loved (almost) every one of Sophie Kinsella’s books but that’s a whole other post!)  Anyway in Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Becky, the main character is meeting her boyfriend’s mother for the first time and she gets all dressed up and thinks she looks “really sharp.”  But then next to her boyfriend’s mother she suddenly becomes self-conscious and notices that her shoe has a tiny smear on the side, one of her nails has a slight chip, and a thread is hanging down from her skirt.  Honestly, this is the story of my life! 

I often compare myself to random people too. When I worked at CBS my office was located between production offices for The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.  Comparing myself to gorgeous, skinny stars all day long was rough.  I mean these girls literally never had a hair out of place and their clothes were out of this world.  Obviously I left this job for reasons other than saving my fragile ego but let me tell you, I feel 100 times better now that I don’t have to see those perfect girls every day!

Looking back at what I just wrote I know that I haven’t struggled with anything most than most other girls have struggled with. Is it worse because I live in Los Angeles?  Is it harder for me because I have that type “A” personality and can’t stand that some things are out of my control?  I’m not sure.  But as I get older I realize more and more that most people are probably being too critical of themselves to notice what I consider a huge flaw in myself.  That doesn’t mean that I still don’t feel like my clothes are wrinkly and my sweater has a pull in it, but I am trying to accept things for what they are so I don’t dwell on stuff that is so obviously unimportant.

Does anyone else compare themselves to their friends, family or even strangers?  Has anyone overcome this?  Any suggestions for me?

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2009 8:43 pm

    I find myself comparing…ahem myself to women I go to school with and women at the gym…women at Starbucks. I have to constantly remind myself that I am 24 and the girls in my classes are 18. I suppose if I spend all day comparing, I will never be perfect. I do find it helpful to be inspired by other women. As in thinking, “Wow she has awesome arms! If I keep working hard I can be that strong too.”

    • December 24, 2009 1:52 pm

      Good point about comparing yourself in a positive way instead of a negative way. Very good advice!

  2. December 24, 2009 12:37 am

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I totally relate to what you’ve written. I think these comparisons are just something girls do, and it can be very unhealthy. Here’s the thing, there is always going to be someone prettier, smarter, richer… whatever. We need to just be proud of what WE are and not look to others.
    I do compare myself to others, it usually leads to me being unhappy. The weird thing is, I think I am fab LOL, so why should i let others get me down? Its silly. Just try to remind yourself of that.

    • December 24, 2009 1:53 pm

      I totally agree that there is always someone out there prettier, etc. and I try to tell myself that. I just need to ingrain it in my head!

  3. December 24, 2009 5:39 am

    Ameena
    This is a great post. I compare compare compare a lot…it is truly a poison…ruins the body and mind seriously…I know people in my family the exact same way…this post really is good.
    My current stance is to work very hard on ridding myself of this ugly quality. Instead to “center” my thoughts on my body, my mind, my soul…tunnel-vision…everyone else …their just people…u know?
    anyway, big work in progress..
    thanks for the comment on my post yesterday…i think you must think i talk and dwell only on all the bad and negative in my life…sorry !….my posts will be better…i think i just have a lot of pent up feelings and emotions now cause seriously life for me is about as low as it can get (i probably jinx myself here now 🙂 )….but i seriously am working on making my blog more of a balance….yours is perfect like that…i need to work on that…cause right now its a mess and that aint gonna help me improve my writing skills or be a better person…

    • December 24, 2009 1:57 pm

      I think your blog is great…you address things that I would never think of and your writing skills are excellent!

  4. Cindy permalink
    December 24, 2009 8:29 am

    Ameena…I could cry at what you wrote here. I FINALLY broke free of that trap..but I am almost 40. AND some days…sigh…some days~

    I would give anything to be an inch or two taller. FLAUNT IT MAMA!
    you are the perfect YOU you were meant to be…confidence is what we really see when we see another person and feel self conscious.

    btw…I don’t feel that comparison sting that often anymore, but when I am around my mother…OMGAWD…she can make me feel “less than good enough” quicker than a bad hair day. So I had to learn to disconnect. She was always about the “image” and I am about whats REAL.

    nowadays..I love just being the imperfect dork that I am. I am loved by my family and a few friends. my kids certainly don’t care if i have makeup on or not or if every hair is in place…as a matter of fact BOTH my boys have a habit of dismantling me and my hair as soon as I get home. It’s good fun!

    Please don’t spend the next 10 years of your life agonizing about what other women are wearing…I’ll bet they look at you and think the same thing…and if they are “every hair in place” they are probably hiding from deeper hurts and covering it with great shoes and perfect hand bag!
    much love to you !

    Maya is gorgeous and so are you! FLAUNT IT!

    • December 24, 2009 2:15 pm

      I think it is probably true that other people are sizing me up as I size them up and we all need to stop.

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

  5. louisianagrown permalink
    December 24, 2009 8:30 am

    Eh, I don’t even much to say about the low self-esteem, but I have read ALL of Sophie Kinsella’s books and LOVED them. Oh, and I have a family that lacks in the tact department, as well. I just crack mean jokes back at them. Works quite nicely.

  6. December 24, 2009 5:33 pm

    Oh my God. I know wht you mean…My biggest problem was that I was ALWAYS comparing myself to others…and it led to my biggest downfall. It actually led to my eating disorder, too.
    Comparison is just a poisonous thing to do, but it comes so naturally, that sometimes you just do it without even really noticing it…but I guess we need to learn to accept ourselves for the way we are. Of course we acknowledge that we are NOT perfect…but hey, imperfections are what makes us unique. My self-esteem is still slowly rebuilding, but it comes bit by bit as I realize again and again what a unique individual I am, and actively seeking reasons to GIVE THANKS for that!

  7. December 24, 2009 6:54 pm

    Love the shopaholic books!!

    It’s impossible as women not to compare ourselves!! It’s not always a bad idea, especially if it inspires us to make healthy changes– like some blogs did for me!!

    Happy holidays 🙂

  8. December 24, 2009 8:39 pm

    Man oh man does this sound familiar! It’s so hard to stop doing, even though I know beyond a doubt that it’s pointless and harmful to keep thinking that I don’t stack up to others. I try to focus on things that I love about myself when I start heading down the comparative path.

  9. Ashlei permalink
    December 25, 2009 7:59 pm

    What a great post! Sometimes I wonder if other people are so self-conscious and compare themselves as much as I do. I definitely hate that I do it and I’d probably be happier if I didn’t. It’s a habit I’m trying to break too! I’m 5’9″ and definitely feel like a giant sometimes around a lot of my family and friends. I have skin trouble too – as I’ve cut down sugar I’ve noticed a bit of a difference as well. Maybe I’ll cut it down some more. I’d love for my face to clear up!

    Hope you enjoy the holidays!! 🙂

  10. April 20, 2010 8:47 pm

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