English poet, Alexander Pope once said, ‘To err is human; to forgive, divine’. I would add a new and less eloquent version of my own, ‘To compare is human’.
The topic of comparing oneself came up in conversation over coffee with a friend yesterday. We agreed that whilst this is not an uncommon impulse, it can quite easily become a trap. Much like the rabbit hole except with murky, swampy waters and a stench of envy.
We are all flawed in this life, that is just a fact of the human condition, however in the glow of Instagram and its various filters, you would not be remiss to think that we all live perfectly wonderful lives and are surrounded by the glow of the sun always. And by we, I mean everyone else but you.
They may be more attractive, have more wealth, more intelligence, and more success than you. You feel that you just don’t measure up to them, and as the feelings of inferiority fester, you fall down the trap and you sink deeper into a state you can’t get out of easily. This is the trap.
In reality, the only person you need to compare yourself to is: yourself.
As a photographer, I look at the work I did ten years ago versus the work I did last week, and that’s the only comparison I make. In fact, these days I am immersed in scanning my own film from the last 15 years of shoots, I have no time to even look at other people’s work (plus, I don’t have Instagram).
If you find Instagram or any other visual social media platform is causing you to feel this way, maybe take a break from it and surround yourself with real people and actual hobbies. Write down what you’re grateful for every morning, my wife just started doing this and it has turned everything from night into day.
Celebrate yourself vs envy someone else.
To compare is human; to choose not to compare is also human.