Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

The Vortex of Comparison And How To Avoid It

There’s a vortex that’s trying to suck all of us in, and it’s called comparison. And it’s got a really good friend called perspective that’ll sometimes let you wander to the edge of that vortex. When perspective decides to take a hike, comparison swishes on in and decides to take you out for a ride – and not the good kind.

Comparison is the death of individuality, and the beginnings of the slippery slope of dissatisfaction.

You can’t use other peoples lives as a reflection of the milestones in your own – we each have our own yardstick, and to measure one with a yardstick that is not unique to them is lunacy.

I’m guilty of forgetting this a lot.

I’m a lot younger than a lot of my peers. I went to school a year early, and almost everyone I work with has decades of experience on me. I keep forgetting that my closest industry friends graduated a year or two before me, and that they’ve been at it for longer than I have. A year or two is a LONG time. Lives completely change in a year or two.

My brother’s five years older than me, and yet I feel frustrated that he’s been working for five years longer than me.

perspective

Everyone’s at a vastly different stage in their lives, and you need to remember that to fight the sink-hole of comparison.

We have different goals, different ideals – my set of priorities is going to be different then everyone else’s. Sometimes I lose sight that the important things is to just be honest with yourself, and act on that honesty. The premise of raggedly rich is founded on knowing and being honest with yourself, and what you need and want. Just like it was worth it to me to buy my motorcycle, it would be an utter waste of money for others.

I recently found myself thinking that I wish I could be further along in my career. And that doesn’t necessarily mean with where I’m at in my career (I scored an amazing upcoming gig that anyone with decades of experience on me would be grateful for), just that it could be happening quicker. Without months between gigs, and gigs spread out more consistently, instead of all being concentrated in chunks.

Use Gratitude and Awareness To Re-Shift Your Perspective

Alas, fall to spring is where most of the work is, and I really have lucked out with the opportunities. Both that I’ve been offered them, and that I’ve been in a financial position where I could accept them. I really am grateful and aware that had I been in a different situation, had a different set of parents, and hadn’t generally gotten the luck of the socio-political draw, I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

In the arts, patience is a skill, and while I have it, every once in a while I feel restless and impatient for the next thing to happen. Right now my next career-gig will be starting at the end of September. It’s the opportunity of a life time, touring an amazing show with a phenomenal cast; I’m so extremely proud to have been and be a part of this. My dream in high school was to be a part of an original, amazing show, and now my name’s on the inside of a CD cover jacket and I’m going to be touring it.

But it’s currently August. I love being busy, and I love my work, so three months feels like a painfully long wait even with an arts contract taking up the next few weeks. Most of my friends have steady joe-jobs that they can fall into between gigs, or at least household maintenance to occupy their time. I most certainly contribute to the household and pull my weight in errand-running and assisting – but there’s no DIY on the go to busy myself with, currently.

Stop Thinking, and Start Doing

A part of creating this blog was to try and fill my time in a positive, productive manner. I’m hoping to eventually find an array of freelance opportunities that will fill my downtime, and focus more on my novel. I tell people now that I work in the arts, but that I’m also a writer. Phrasing it like that solidifies in my mind that I’m taking it seriously, and has already affected my productivity.

Stop comparing yourself to others; enjoy and be satisfied with where you are in life. 

And if you’re not, take ownership and change it. Be honest with yourself and push yourself to discover what life it is you want to lead, and take the steps to get there. Sometimes I find myself listless and unproductive, and the steps to changing that are:

  • Establish a structure for use of time
  • Create tangible daily goals to accomplish
  • Work for something that gives me a sense of meaning

I need to find focus and specificity, which has so far been lacking from my non-gig day-to-day. Creating a set of solid goals and taking the steps to set that into motion is already starting to help.

Complacency is the Enemy of Productivity

Every once in a while, I’ll feel really good about where I am. I’ll feel accomplished, and so I allow myself to settle in and lost that focus and drive that got me there – and suddenly find myself listless a week later. When I think I’m doing fine, I settle; then I realize that things are happening for other people (comparison, without perspective). I look where I currently am, feel inadequate, and so I overcompensate by over extending myself, which will then leads to feeling accomplished – and the vicious cycle repeats itself. I think everyone’s gone through a cycle like this at some point in their lives, and complacency at its root.

gee, it looks nice up there…

Get Shit Done

Over the course of my last gig, I buckled down and pieced together the segments that I’d written for my book. I put it all together chronologically, and filled in the holes to varying states of completion, though, I have to admit, I did use the place-holder ‘ELABORATE’ quite a bit. I’ve re-worked the first chapter half a dozen times to try to find the right tone, and through that work I feel like I’m becoming more engaged with the characters. I’ve never been one to visualize characters or need definitive physical/auditory markers  (I was never concerned with the pronunciation of ‘Hermione’ as a kid, since it was just a clump of words that represented the character), so thinking through the opening pages of the book has made me think about how to characterize them.

While I’d like to have accomplished more in my 26 years – I sometimes forget what I have accomplished. Last year I was part of an experience that I had been working towards since high school – it’s weird to realize one of your life-long ambitions. After the immediate thrill died down, my thought was: what’s next? Checked that off the list, what’s next? I need to stop getting trapped in the rut of the lull, and carry that ‘what’s next’ momentum so I can drive through the slow-periods.

Everyone’s measuring stick is going to be unique to them, and remembering that will keep you from the vortex of comparison.

I know I inevitably will, but there’s always another goal or ambition to realize. Don’t get lost in the rut of patience; I need to get a system going that will fill the space of patience, focus my thoughts, nurture that drive, and help me realize the next stages of my ambitions.

So – what’s next for you? How do you deal with comparison?

14 Comments

  1. Comparison is something I struggle with pretty much daily. I’m 38, and while better than I used to be, I still compare myself to others a LOT. Like you said, developing the discipline of gratitude can help with the comparison monster. Getting off FB ha been good for me, really good. And remembering that I’ve designed my life this way because it’s what I really want!!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 31, 2017 at 9:53 am

      It’s so hard sometimes – I’m glad that getting off FB has helped! I use FB strictly for work-related promotion (ie, a working resume), and for my Buy Nothing Group. I deleted it off my phone when I realized I was checking it way too often during the day, but sometimes I still find myself scrolling through the newsfeed. Good luck going forward : ) You’re awesome, and there’s no one else like you!

  2. It shouldn’t be a struggle to have friends who have widely varying incomes. I’ve got one friend who is a billionaire, for real, and one who is worth hundreds of millions and probably a half dozen who are in the tens of millions of net worth. I’ve also got some who are just getting by check to check. One of the wealthy ones inherited most of it but the rest all earned it themselves. All of them are highly educated, highly motivated, generous, thoughtful, honest and extremely hard workers. They all have at least two houses and some have a half dozen. Two have their own private jets. One owns an island! I jog with these people in our small rural southern oil patch town and do charity work beside them and they have never once tried to make me feel inferior even though they could all buy and sell me and my one modest house, and my older used cars and my economy class airline seats. I feel blessed that I am early retired and healthy and do not want for money and I just don’t crave their jets or their amazing cars or their mansions. But I’m glad they have them and glad they enjoy their lives as much as I enjoy mine. I wouldn’t trade to be any one of them for anything, I like my life immensely and want to see what is around the next corner for me and my wife!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 31, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      Some of the nicest, most humble people I know, are really well off. They’re so down to earth and generous, it’s never awkward or weird. I always say that if your friends make you feel bad, insignificant, and insecure, then they’re not really your friends. Dramatic people I actively avoid – I’m friendly in party situations, but I don’t go out of my way to interact with them. It’s not worth it to me, because they’re constantly trying to prove themselves, instead of just being themselves.

      I’m glad you’ve found such a great group of people to surround yourself with 🙂 It sounds like a tight-knit community, and I wish you and your wife all the best out there! I never begrudge my friends for what they have / do; the frustration and disappointment comes purely from wanting myself to be better.

  3. Atta girl! Congrats on the new gig!! Everyone moves at their own pace, the only thing is not to pause or lose focus. Everyone does go through this cycle so you are definitely right. I went through the exact same thing this weekend, feeling ahead and then feeling behind. I need to be more thankful for everything and wait for what will come except demanding it.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      July 31, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks!!

      It’s harder said then done – but thankfully we’ve got a good community to help keep us bolstered for blogging, and good people around us to keep us centered in real life : ) (or so I assume, of Mr. Hippo)

  4. I had to think about this one. My measuring stick lays on my own timeline. Period. I don’t know exactly how far I need to go or how I’ll get there. I can only sense if I’m veering off the straight line. This might be a good thing…not having to worry about comparisons.

    Complacency is the enemy. I believe we are inherently lazy so if we’re comfortable, we won’t act until the need to avoid pain is too great. Some people are more skilled at harnessing that pain than others.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      August 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Not worrying about comparisons and where other people are in their lives compared to where you are in your life is fantastic! But how do you tell if you’re veering off the straight line?

  5. If it brings you the value you want it to (or more) then it’s worth it. Enjoy it while you can.

    My children and my marriage drastically changed my life. Now I cherish free time more than any material possession. Maybe that’s why I enjoy blogging so much.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      August 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, for what a frugal lifestyle is. There’s a difference between being forced into frugality and choosing to live it, and the ability to assign and decide those values (as opposed to being frugal to obtain the necessities of food, shelter, etc.) is what it’s about.

      My family and my passions are things that I make monetary sacrifices for – I’d rather do what I love, than make piles of money.

  6. Oh man, comparison can be such a big one for me. I think I go in cycles of being very content, then second guessing and comparing my life or a certain aspect with others. But I have been working recently to realize that my situation is completely unique to me, so it really doesn’t matter what anyone else is saying or doing… I just need to keep my head down and get shit done (stop thinking, start doing!) 😉

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      August 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      It can be so hard! There’s obviously the people who’s opinions are important (like your husband, probably :P), but it’s hard to keep that perspective. Good luck though! And let me know if you figure out a fool-proof way to make it work!

      I’ve started listening to Ted talks lately, and there was a really interesting one about success always being on the other side of goals – which means that you never actually reach success, since whenever you accomplish a goal, you make a newer, bigger, better one.

  7. The one thing that I can control in life is not comparing myself to others. I try to be conscious of not comparing myself to others but I have to admit there are times that it’s tough not to. I’m still working through it but it definitely gets easier over time 🙂

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      August 7, 2017 at 9:51 am

      And I hope it continues to get easier and easier! I’m trying for a more positive attitude too, in my daily life, which I think also helps a little bit with the whole comparison thing… life’s a work in progress though, gotta not forget that! Otherwise it’d get pretty dull…

      Thanks for stopping by!

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