Sunday, August 20, 2017

Finding Inspiration Without Envy

One evening about a month ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I stumbled upon a fellow NYC-based blogger's account. I was intrigued by her pictures and street style and I started to look through her blog and photos from over the past few months. It wasn't long at all before I started realizing how incredibly talented and beautiful she was, and, of course, before I was suddenly becoming all too aware of all the things I lacked as a blogger... and as a person... you know the deal...

Now, I could very well have been just a bit overly emotional that night (that time of the month, maybe?), but I literally started to cry over how inadequate I felt after looking at how perfect this girl was. All of her outfits were trendy, her pictures were so well done and her editing was so unique, and on top of all that, she was absolutely stunning. It seemed to me that she embodied the best aspects of style in New York City, and while I was happy for her, I couldn't help but start to see myself as someone who didn't fit in at all in the blogging world. Suddenly, my shortcomings were amplified. As I compared myself more and more to this girl, I continued to feel worse about myself.

A few weeks later, oddly enough, the same girl that appeared completely perfect to me started posting about how she had been struggling with comparison lately. When she first mentioned it at the beginning of the week I was a little shocked (because, you know, I thought she was totally perfect and how in the world could she not think that about herself, etc. etc. etc., as we all like to think so blindly and foolishly at times..). A few days later, she posted an Instagram story of the subtitled screen at the church service she was currently attending. It showed the preacher with the following quote:

"The fastest way to kill something special is to compare it to something else."

She captioned the photo with something to the point of, "Funny because this is exactly what I've been dealing with this week." By that point, I decided to message her to tell her that I was so shocked to see she was doubting herself because when I first found her blog I was stunned at how great her work was. She responded so nicely, saying thanks so much and that yes, of course, everyone struggles with comparison even though we know it's so bad to do. This was the coolest experience to me because she was the one who I originally was all bent out of shape over for being so darn PERFECT, and while I decided against telling her that I literally cried when I first compared myself to her (because, ok, that's actually so creepy), I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to tell her how great of a job she was doing. And strangely enough, it was also the perfect opportunity - or super-sugar-coated slap in the face - for me to learn that it was so dumb to think that she was flawless and that I was just so inadequate. 

The fastest way to kill something special is to compare it to something else. It has become increasingly heartbreaking to me to know that comparison is something we all deal with, especially bloggers like myself, because the things we are criticizing about ourselves are some of the most important things in our lives. Blogging is my outlet - it's something that has made me so much more myself, and I love it for that. It's where I can create and express my thoughts and give to the world. And my blog, that part of myself that is so important to me, is exactly what I am tearing down when I compare myself. It's so, so saddening. 

Seeing the successfulness in others is, in many ways, a good thing. We should be recognizing the greatness around us and appreciating those people for what they are and what they are capable of - but we CANNOT compare ourselves. Comparison is where inspiration is changed into envy. One thing that I struggle with so, so often is letting my admiration of others turn into jealousy, which not only makes me dislike my own work, but also keeps me from properly appreciating theirs in the first place. I think ever since the incident with the other blogger, above all else, I have learned this: 

It isn't her against you. It's her alongside you.

I believe that our society, for the most part, has a collective issue of believing that success is something definite and limited, and that if one other person has a lot of it then it means we have less. I also think that girls specifically struggle with this when it comes to comparing ourselves; we see another beautiful girl and feel that she takes away from our beauty (as if the amount of beauty surrounding us must be definite) rather than believing we are all simply adding more beauty to the world together. And this is a huge problem. Because it isn't her against you. It's her alongside you.

It's so good to have people around us who inspire us and challenge us to be better versions of ourselves, because we get better that way. We should be surrounding ourselves with people who make us better. But this being said, we should also be recognizing our own talents and worth. We should be appreciating others and appreciating ourselves.

I think that it is so, so important to have an identity, because without it we are tempted to imitate everyone else around us who we believe is so much better. Your identity should be your foundation. We have to recognize that our identity is different from each other person's and that our success will probably look a lot different from theirs. If you don't know who you are then you start to want to become just like whoever you're jealous over in the moment. When you know your own style and you trust yourself, you can love it as much as you can appreciate another person's identity. Even more so, you can then take the right things away from other people - things like how to improve yourself without changing yourself. You can find inspiration while still loving who you are. 

Hope this helps.

xx Erin Nicole


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