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The Comparison Trap

There was a season of my life where I felt like EVERYONE was getting engaged. There were so many engagements popping up on my feed every day, it almost became a game with my friend where we would screenshot the picture and send it saying "another one."

While I was seemingly happy for those individuals, I began to notice my own desire to get engaged only grew. At some point during this season, I met Taylor, and as we grew closer to our engagement, my anticipation and desire for that season exponentially grew.

When the day finally (I say finally, because I felt like I had waited awhile) came for me, I suddenly stopped noticing everyone's engagement pictures. I finally had what I wanted and it no longer felt like a slap in the face seeing other people get the same thing. Blissfully unaware that comparison would later creep up, we planned our wedding and had the most perfect day. I was on cloud 9 all year as I waited for June 8th, our wedding day. That day came and went and we certainly were in the honeymoon phase until we began to settle into a marital routine. (This isn't me saying marriage is not longer blissful, just when I came back to reality.)

Here's the problem: A few months into marriage, I began to notice friends or people on my feed buying houses, losing weight, launching businesses, or announcing pregnancies. That feeling of desire, attention, or the next phase of life slowly crept into my brain. I was no longer able to be content in my current season causing me to focus far too much on the "what's next." Let me also be honest and say I really struggled to be happy for people who were taking next steps. Jealousy became a very real issue for me.

Some days were so bad that I would get frustrated with Taylor on why we weren't at that next step. I often felt pressure that we needed to be 3 steps ahead when it felt like everyone else around me was already there. At times, I was SO focused on what to do next or what to do 10 years from now, that I wasn't enjoying this new season of marriage, my job or what I had right in front of me.

Friends, I'm going to be really honest and say that more often than not, I did not handle this in the best way for months on end. I tirelessly tried to achieve what everyone else had, and truthfully, I failed every time. My motive was simply to be on the same level as everyone else, not because it was best for me. I don't think it's any coincidence that God allowed those attempts to fail.

For awhile, by God's grace, I worked through the comparison trap and was able to focus on my calling and purpose. But eventually, the temptation of wanting what others had slowly crept back in. Jealousy quickly kicked in as I began to notice again people making big steps in their lives. Even when I launched this website, my business, or we bought a house, there was always something else that people had that I wanted. Maybe I wanted it too or maybe I just wanted to be equal and receive attention. Who knows. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. And day after day, I could count another individual taking bigger steps than I was.

I began to question every day, "Should I be there too? Should Taylor and I be in that phase?" These questions ate me up. Taylor and I have had many conversations about where we are and where we need to be. I pray daily about my struggle with comparison and being present with what He's laid before me.

I truly wish I could tell you comparison wasn't an issue for me anymore, and honestly, it was never a struggle until I became an adult. I never really cared what other people were doing until I felt like I had to reach certain seasons in adulthood by a certain age.

While I continue to work through this comparison struggle, here's what I'm learning so far and I hope it can help you too:

  1. People go at different paces - and that's a good thing. How boring would it be if we all followed the same timeline? Or how much more difficult would it be to live life if we, for some reason, didn't achieve the next step at the same time as everyone else? Maybe God is trying to teach you something in this particular season that you wouldn't be able to learn in another season.

  2. For every person you compare yourself to, others are doing the same about you. This is not to discourage you, but rather make you aware that other people struggle with comparison too, and likely, people compare themselves to you.

  3. Be excited for the new, but be sensitive. This point ties into number 2. It's totally okay to be excited for a new season: a job, an engagement/relationship, wedding, buying a house, having a baby, or retirement, but be sensitive to those around you. Share your excitement but don't make it the only thing you talk about. It can cause greater divide or separation from those who are struggling to get there. On a tangent - if you follow (or if you don't, you should) Jordan Dooley, she's been very open about 2 miscarriages and her battle through loss. I can only imagine the torn feelings she has when a loved one announces a pregnancy as it is truly a miracle, but likely a reminder to her that she's not there yet.

  4. If you are on the flip side, waiting for things to click, be patient, find joy, and be genuinely happy for others. This is hard guys. As I've said, this has been so hard for me the last few years, and likely will continue to be difficult. Every season I've experienced waiting: engagement, marriage, job, or house, has been preceded by individuals who received those things first. News flash: this was going to happen whether I paid attention to it or not. Being genuinely happy for others, believe it or not, truly makes it easier to work through whatever you're waiting on. Share and rejoice in accomplishments of others.

  5. Start learning and stop comparing. God didn't get things wrong. You're where you need to be. Don't mistake this for an excuse to sit back and do nothing, but don't force what isn't meant to be just yet. You don't need to compensate for who you aren't. Give thanks for who you are and what you have.

Comparison steals joy and distracts us from what we should be doing. It can cause deep insecurity or identity struggles. I'm certainly not perfect at figuring this out, and I truly can only advise that consistent time in the Word and prayer helps the comparison struggle the most. But maybe there are other small steps that will help in addition to time with Him: step away from social media, write out everything you're thankful for/have, reach out to those who are reaching new steps and congratulate them.

For further encouragement or connection, follow my journey @captivatingcommunity on Instagram!

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