I saw a really cute picture of another blogger's kitchen the other day and it made me feel icky because my cabinets are so not pottery barn.

I overthink what others think of me and I'm always looking over my shoulder, worried I won't work fast enough or be inspiring enough and lose my place in this race.

I edit most of my social media captions multiple times after posting them and I usually don't get anything right the first time.

Hi, my name is Jordan and I'm a recovering perfectionist.

I say “recovering” because for a long time I used to care so much about looking put together because that was “in.”

Then, everyone attacked social media for being a pit of comparison so everything swung the opposite direction.

So for awhile, I caught myself trying to prove that I was real and messy because that was in. And I felt the need to prove that my life wasn't perfect (um, who's is?). I felt the need to prove that I was “real and relatable and just like everyone else,” instead of just being real and how God made me unlike anyone else.

I failed to see that I am just as real when I'm having a good hair day as I am when I'm a total mess. I didn't realize that I am both real and messy but also real and full of joy, life, and light.

 

It's not that I don't struggle like anyone else. I do. And I'm not afraid to share that reality (I mean, obviously, considering how I started this article off).

But for a long time I believed that people wouldn't like me if I shared the good things in my life.

So, even when I showed the good things, I was SURE to highlight the imperfect parts of them instead of celebrating the real wonderful parts of them, too. I knew how ugly jealousy and comparison could be and I feared being someone people compared themselves to–so I set out to prove that I was, “normal.” Whatever that means. 

Bible Belles: Heroes for Her!

I tried to hide all the good stuff and focus on the ‘relatable' stuff because I was terrified that somebody else might step into the comparison game, point a finger as if I'm in the wrong, and say, “that's not real.”

I know people do it because I've done it to other people.

But I've been challenged. Who are we to say someone's joy or beauty or life isn't real and legitimate? Isn't that just our inadequacy talking?

The fact of the matter is that I was still being a perfectionist about what I shared and did. I filtered only what I thought people wanted to see–it just looked different from what perfectionism is typically understood to look like. It took the cloak of being “real” but maybe it was hardly real at all.

It's as if, in some twisted way, I was being perfect about being imperfect and fake about being real. What on earth is that?

How have we become so accustomed to being perfect about being imperfect and fake about being… Click To Tweet

But if you think about it, I'd bet you have been, too.

Perfectionism and pride aren't just reserved for the retouched photos. They take root in the heart and can mask themselves in all sorts of ways.

It's an uphill battle and I'll never tell you that I don't struggle with it (hence, *recovering*). Because I struggled today. Struggling right now.

Maybe you are, too.

So I think it's something we ought to talk about because we live in a world so saturated with comparison and competition yet equally saturated with lots of internet whining and cheesy posts that are supposed to be inspirational but not enough LIVING.

And it leaves me wondering, “How did we get here? How has it become that one of the modern American girl's main griefs has become comparison when people all over the world are hungry every day? How have we come to believe that someone is only REAL if they broadcast the ugly and broken parts of their life on their Instagram? Is there not more to life? Is there not more to the story?”

Perhaps there is more to the story. So much more.

Defeating Comparison

This may not be the fluffiest, feel-good post in the world but I'm not interested in dancing around it any longer because it needs to be said.

So, from one recovering perfectionist (and also compulsive comparer) to another: My life is not a competition–neither the messy parts nor the marvelous parts are a measurement of my worth. It's all part of my story and I don't have anything to prove with either part of it. I'm not interested in one upping anyone or looking like anyone else or proving anything any longer. Instead, I choose to live and be and move and breathe.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no robot. Like I said, I let myself fall into comparison, too. And I'm shamelessly honest about that. BUT I'm done passing on the blame or whining about it. Because that just makes it about myself and not about God. And I truly believe that we need to stop complaining so much and start marching on in doing what matters.

Because we are NOT victims of comparison. And we are not any more or less real because of what we may or may not share on the internet, achieve at work, or put on our resume.

we are NOT victims of comparison. Click To Tweet

Comparison may sneak up on us but we choose whether or not we give it power.

You have a choice in the matter, too, okay?

All too often, we lock up our hearts and drain them of all their joy all on our own simply because we choose to obsess over something that should be a non issue.

There's a quote that says, “Mother Teresa didn't walk around complaining about her thighs–she had work to do!”

The fact of the matter is that there is a way out. You literally have the key in your hand.

I'll give you a hint: the key is NOT whining on social media or posting more inspirational quotes or more mega honest captions to convince yourself or others of something. I've tried that. It doesn't work because when you're still trying to prove something, that's not freedom. The key is not whether or not you choose to wear makeup and it's certainly not just blaming the enemy.

The key is choosing something better. Because there's power in CHOOSING to live my life instead of choosing to look at everyone else's. There's power in choosing to declare what I know out loud instead of letting what I FEEL scream on the inside.

There's power in choosing to declare what I know out loud instead of letting what I FEEL scream… Click To Tweet

Maybe the answer isn't convincing yourself or anyone else of anything but choosing to cheer people on instead. Nothing breaks comparison faster.

I don't think any of us lose when we help each other win. I don't lose beauty points when she looks better than me and I don't lose any ounce of the worth bottled up inside of me when someone else wins what I hoped to have.

And neither do you.

comparison

So, here's what I've recently had to learn as a millennial woman standing int he middle of our weird, social media saturated world: You've gotta check your heart. Trying to prove that you're real and relatable on the internet can be just as messed up as trying to prove that you've got it all together.

Trying to prove that you're real and relatable on the internet can be just as messed up as… Click To Tweet

Why? Because that's what sells now. It does. Plain and simple. It's the kind of thing that gets the most likes and comments like, “Oh my gosh! You're just SOO real! Needed this, girl!” in the virtual world.

I mean, it makes sense–none of us want to feel like we're alone in our imperfections or struggles. And those kind of things make us feel less alone, I get it.

And that's okay but to be honest, your comfort or confidence should not increase because another girl shares her brokenness.

So many women on the internet try to prove that they're real because they know others will like it–not because it's just who they are. I know because I've done it, too. #guilty #thestruggleisreal

It's like it somehow makes us believe that by sharing these things we won't struggle with comparison anymore…so how is it that comparison is like, the hottest topic on the internet? How is comparison at an all time high? Isn't all the internet transparency and real talk supposed to be cutting that like a knife? I sure thought so. Until I realized it doesn't totally work like that. Until I realized someone else may post something even MORE real or be even MORE relatable and suddenly we feel like we didn't try hard enough.

But how can you try to be real? It shouldn't be something anyone has to prove. Maybe we should just be real, through and through. Otherwise, we all fall into the trap of being perfect about being imperfect and fake about being real.

ICK! How did that get so twisted?

Like I said, it's not bad to share glimpses into real life or to be dead honest about some of our struggles on the internet (I mean, hello, I do it, too).

BUT no matter how hard we try to make it real, the internet is not real life. It's not going to be that real. It just isn't.

So, we can't live there. We can't keep trying to prove ourselves there. Don't do it for the gram. Do it for God, okay?

Don't do it for the gram, do it for God, okay? Click To Tweet

When you let yourself live, when you let yourself be real and totally you through and through, it'll be clear to those around you if you're genuine or not.

Take the pressure off of yourself to be so real on the internet and actually live real life. Live for Jesus. Love His people. Your real heart will show through. Because even those *real* photos can only be so real. They aren't half as real as sitting across the table from a tear stained, unstaged, and unfiltered face that just really needs a hug.

Take the pressure off of yourself to be so real on the internet and actually live real life Click To Tweet

There's so much more life in taking the focus off of ourself and how we measure up and channeling that energy into serving God.

I have a quote that says, “throw your hair up in a messy bun and go do some Kingdom work.”

throw your hair up in a messy bun and go do some Kingdom work Click To Tweet

Notice how this doesn't say, “throw your hair up in a messy bun and then try to prove how comfortable with your hair undone.” That still makes it about you and proving something.

It says to go do some Kingdom work. In other words, “throw it up in a bun, stop focusing so much on how done or undone it is, and channel that energy into doing what really matters.

That's how you beat comparison. That's how you live a full, real, abundant life–by living in your purpose and being mission minded.

Because yes, real is a bare face revealing an uneven skin tone and a little bit of yesterday's make up left over. It's crusty lips and hat hair and wrinkly tees and a little of cellulite. Real is tired eyes and messy tables and a series of imperfect moments. I mean, we've all been there. But if we're not parading around showing it off in real life, why would we show it off online?

It's one thing to let it be what it is and focus on what matters and another thing to highlight it and focus on it. When we seek affirmation for our mess, we misplace the affirmation we already have in the Messiah.

When we seek affirmation for our mess, we misplace the affirmation we already have in the… Click To Tweet

We've made real out to mean just the bare face and only the hard and ugly stuff because deep down, we have a hard time accepting others' joy and happiness and beauty. We let others' joy and beauty make us feel less happy or beautiful. But we don't have to let it. It doesn't impose itself on us, we welcome it in far too often.

We've become a world that tries to compare both our broken and our beauty and then complain as if comparison attacked us or something. But real is ALSO laughter and love and sunshine and beautiful things, too.

 

What if we just celebrated the moments as they are–instead of making them look super put together or proving that they're totally not put together?

We don't need to shame our sister's beauty but we also don't need to shame ourselves when we don't feel so beautiful.

You're not a victim of perfectionism or comparison and you don't have anything to prove.

You're not a victim of perfectionism or comparison and you don't have anything to prove. Click To Tweet
Because REAL isn't just a make up-less photo and inspiring caption. Real is genuine conversation, a listening ear, an honest heart, and a cheerful song. Real is spending time with people. Then, focusing on them. Not spending time looking at people on the internet. Real runs deeper than any image you will ever see on the internet.
REAL lives IN you, not on you, because real is GOD. Real in it's rarest form is beautiful and darling, so are you.

So, here are three practical steps you can take to put this to rest TODAY:

1. Get off the internet and be real by living real life–call someone or hug someone.

2. Send the person you compare yourself to most an encouraging message or admit to them you compare yourself to them and have a discussion about it (my friends and I have done this at times and it's SO freeing!)

3. Identify if you are channeling your own negative energy toward someone else simply because they seem better off than you. Then, make a choice. CHOOSE to turn to the Lord and refocus on what matters most. Call that out for what it is and rechannel that energy into something life giving… do something to help someone in need, call your mom, or say the prayer below.

“Father God, I feel the pressure to prove something right now. I feel like I don't measure up to everyone else.  I feel the nasty feelings of comparison creeping up. But I KNOW that Jesus already proved all that there is to prove on the cross. I KNOW you made me unique and real and full of life–just as I am. I KNOW that the very breath in my lungs is a sign of you living in me. When I compare myself to others, I'm making other's the standard to live up to when in reality, I know you are the only standard. I invite you to take your rightful place on the throne of my heart. I trust that you are real and good and faithful. I trust that you work out all things for the good of those who love You. So, today, I choose You. I choose Truth over feelings and real over pretending to be real. I choose to live the life you've designed for me instead of longing for the life you designed for someone else. Fill me with Your Spirit and help me march on in what really matters. Amen.”

 

VERSES TO MEMORIZE:

Galatians 6:4-5 “Each one of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.”

1 Timothy 6:6 “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

2 Corinthians 10:17 “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

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Jordan Lee

Author: Jordan Lee

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15 thoughts on “How to Overcome Comparison: An Open Letter From a Recovering Perfectionist

  1. YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES. This is something I’ve been thinking about forever, and I’m so glad someone finally put words to it. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your honesty! ❤

    Posted on July 16, 2017 at 12:39 am
  2. Jordan, you are amazing- my heart has been so, so heavy with this *exact issue* recently and God led me straight to it. I’m at the age where a good majority of my friends have been getting engaged/married or having kids or are excelling in their professional lives and I just recently had to move back home with my parents after a huge setback in my career. It is so hard to not look around at my friends and then at God and go, “WHEN!? Why? Haven’t I worked hard enough and served enough for You, Lord? When will it be my turn? Am I ever enough?” Your message is so inspiring, and you are absolutely right: Comparison is the thief of joy. I am working very hard to be REAL and come what may, I know God has written this story for me and will always follow along with me, step by step.

    Posted on July 16, 2017 at 3:29 am
    1. Amber- SAME! I just moved back home because instead of getting a job like all of my friends, I am going to graduate school. And I’ll be a bridesmaid for the fourth time in a couple of weeks, so it’s hard to stand beside the sweet bride on their day and not think, “When does this get to be ME?!” It was so, so good to read this because it reminded me that God has His own unique story for all of us- life is not a race! I hope you have a great day and know that you are NOT the only one who feels this way sometimes!

      Posted on July 18, 2017 at 7:48 am
  3. I am always amazed at how God speaks to me through you. Just last week I stopped using FB and Instagram because of this very issue. Comparing myself to others and worrying that others were comparing themselves to me was consuming me. I don’t believe humans were made for that sort of pressure. Thank you so much for your honesty. I’m sure it must have felt so vulnerable to put those internal feelings out to the world but as a fellow recovering perfectionist, I am so grateful. <3

    Posted on July 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm
  4. Yep, I’m right there! Been so exhausted with the back and forth that I’ve just become a turtle and hibernated for so long to avoid all of the back and forth! Glad to be led to your posts! Found some recent books that have helped revelry so I’m feeling a pressure lifting and a joy returning after so long!

    Posted on July 16, 2017 at 11:08 pm
    1. Jordan Lee

      That’s great, Gina!! It’s a tough subject and cycle to break but definitely not something we HAVE to get stuck in! Excited to hear about your growth 🙂 XO

      Posted on July 17, 2017 at 9:39 am
  5. ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
    amazing…..exactly what teenagers like me need to hear❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

    Posted on July 17, 2017 at 2:06 am
  6. I rarely struggle with the comparison game when it comes to internet stuff because let’s face it: I’m confident that online portrayals are largely curated for marketing reasons but have really struggled with the comparison game in my professional life and I adore how this truly speaks to both aspects. Feeling negative things towards others who are ahead of me professionally was truly convicting and it was really powerful and freeing to pray over this message this morning. Thanks for your uplifting direction and helping me see my greater purpose is not compared to anyone but rather stands alone in the sight of my Creator.

    Posted on July 17, 2017 at 7:29 am
    1. Jordan Lee

      So glad to hear it encouraged you, Ellen! Keep on praying and declaring truth out loud! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Posted on July 17, 2017 at 9:38 am
  7. YES YES YES YES. Very well said! I love the prayer you wrote! And I love your three practical tips. I struggled with comparison for the first time in my life this past year and I had to make the choice to get off the internet and really lean into and fix my focus on what God says about my purpose, my uniqueness, and my life. I have been SO much more present in my own life and relationships mentally. It has been so beautiful and life-nourishing. My clouded vision gained clarity when I did this. And I recently started sending an encouraging messaging to someone I have compared myself to and I have found freedom from comparing myself to her just by simply and regularly expressing my love and belief in her. So cool how God works and gives us freedom in every area of life when we seek it and intentionally make the choice to lean into Him for help how to STOP the crazy cycle of comparison that entangle so many.

    Posted on July 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm
  8. Thank you so much Jordan, this post is exactly what I needed!! Comparing myself to others has been my deepest enemy for a VERY long time. It is a vicious cycle that has often made me regret and rethink my life far too much. Recently, I have tried to downplay the graces God has given me in life in order to be more relatable to others – especially my friends without faith. You are absolutely right that trying to look real is just as hard as trying to be perfect. Instead, of being apologetic or so hard on myself I have made the choice to no longer be perfect or real, but to just be myself.

    Posted on July 17, 2017 at 10:25 pm
  9. Hey Jordan, your blog post was so sobering to hear. Thank you for representing Jesus on this platform, I appreciate you so much. Thank you for sharing the things you personally wrestle with continually and thank you for valuing God’s truth even when it’s confusing and hard. We’re all imperfect, and so aware of it too, that we often stumble around in the dark wondering why our eyes never adjust, when we just need to turn God’s light on in over hearts and recognize that we were never meant to journey this life alone. Thank you for bringing girls into a community where they are able to spur each other on towards Jesus and celebrate their uniqueness in Christ. You are a world changer, thank you! 🙂

    Posted on July 18, 2017 at 6:31 pm
  10. So well said! I love your take on this issue, and the idea that the “realness” we try to post about isn’t always real and honest. Such an interesting way to think about it! Thanks for sharing!

    Posted on July 20, 2017 at 8:11 am
  11. SO. GOOD. Thank you for this!

    Posted on July 20, 2017 at 1:17 pm