Everything always comes so easy for her.
If only she knew what I was going through.
I can’t be myself with her because I’m not good enough.
Her hair and makeup always look amazing, and I am a hot mess.
Do these thoughts ever cross your mind?
I have a confession: For me, they do. I struggle with comparison. I compare myself to strangers on the internet, in magazines, or on television shows. If I am not careful, comparison becomes self-destructive. Thoughts like I feel so ugly, or my life has no purpose easily creep in when I compare. Can you relate?
Comparison is an inevitable facet of life, especially with all of the filtered photos and happy posts we are exposed to on a daily basis. But when I compare myself to my closest friends–the people I do life with-–I find that it hinders my ability to foster authentic friendships.
What is authentic friendship? It’s a friendship in which we can be ourselves—fully loved and accepted by each other. Authentic friendship offers space to be honest and grace to give second chances. It encourages deep and connected conversations, and asks hard questions without judgement or guilt.
When I feel consumed by comparison, my friendships suffer. Here are three ways comparison suffocates authenticity in our relationships:
1. It feels hard to celebrate our friends’ successes.
Your friend just landed her dream job, and you’re stuck in a low-paying job that feels like a chore to show up for every day. It’s hard to want to celebrate her new job because you feel sorry for yourself. You just stood up in another friend’s wedding, and you’re wondering why you can’t find Mr. Right. It’s hard to celebrate her marriage because you feel sad about your relationship status.
2. It’s easy to feel threatened by our friends’ other relationships.
When comparison creeps in, it’s easy to get jealous of our friends’ other friends. Your friend posts a photo with another friend on Instagram, and you immediately feel left out. You wonder why she didn’t invite you.
3. It’s tempting to compete with our friends.
Your co-worker friend received praise from the boss, and you feel like you’re not as good at your job. You start to think of ways to out-do or one-up her at work. Your friend’s children are so well-behaved, and you feel like your kids are a mess. It’s easy to compare your bad-mom day with her moment of well-behaved kids and think you’re a bad parent. Or you feel like the next time you’re together, you have to prove your worth by exaggerating a story about your child’s recent accomplishment.
In our friendships, let’s be the kind of friends who celebrate one another. Let’s encourage other friendships in their lives, and be thankful for that gift for them. Let’s say no to comparison and competition, and yes to celebration and connection. Let’s say no to judgement and shame, and yes to grace and openness.
The next time you feel tempted to compare, remember that you never know everything that your friend is really going through, just like she never knows the full story about your life. When you feel threatened or judged, be open and honest with your friends about what you’re feeling. Offer grace and receive it. The gift of friendship–authentic friendship–is one of the most beautiful things we could ever receive. Treasure the gift of friendship.
Ali Wren is a teacher, foodie, and lover of goldendoodles–especially the fluffy ones. Passionate about helping women discover a whole and healthy life, she chronicles her journey at AliWren.com where she writes about overcoming the comparison trap, healthy eating with food allergies, and reclaiming authenticity, beauty and simplicity in each day. You can read her ebook #InstaEnvy on Amazon here.