Resist That Urge to Compare

posted by Andrea | 01/14/2014

resist that urge to compare

We’ve all done it — myself included — many, many, many, MANY times.

I’ve watched a lady with 5 well-behaved little children seemingly effortlessly make her way through the grocery store with no shouting or yelling… while I struggle with our ONE toddler who is screaming that she wants another cookie.

So, what am I doing wrong?

I’ve witnessed women at church who seem to volunteer for EVERYTHING, plan every event, chair every committee, participate in every fundraiser… while I continue to say ‘no’ to additional requests for my time as I just don’t have the hours or the energy for more commitments right now.

So, what am I doing wrong?

I’ve seen fellow blogging friends roll out huge new blog designs, publish best-selling books, create designer printables, and write posts that go viral across the web… while I sometimes seem to be “standing still” (by my own accord) and simply doing the same things each week and each month.

So, what am I doing wrong?

so what am I doing wrong

But ironically, when the tables turn, I’m often the one getting emails from discouraged readers wondering what they are doing wrong since they clearly can’t manage to do everything I supposedly do on a daily basis — with a toddler who rarely sleeps and a baby on the way.

How do you manage to keep your house relatively clean while working full time?

How do you manage to keep your freezer and pantry stocked with soups, casseroles, baked goods, and discount produce?

How do you make the time for canning 60 quarts of applesauce or multiple batches of jam in one day?

How do you make the time for home and yard renovations while still doing all your other daily and weekly chores?

How do you stay on top of all your paper clutter, clothes clutter, kitchen clutter, and toy clutter?

How do you keep all your photos so organized and stay on top of your digital photo albums every year?

How are you able to live such frugal lives, save so much of your income, and afford to do all those home renovations?

I get these questions (and other similar questions) on a weekly basis. Clearly, there is something wrong with anyone who can’t keep up with my supposed productivity… or at least that’s what some of you seem to think :)

what am i doing wrong

It always makes me smile when I get these emails asking “how do you do it all” — not because I’m proud or because I want others to feel inferior, but because I too have these same sort of thoughts (as I mentioned above) when I see other women who are apparently doing SO much more than I am.

Plus, I know first-hand that I DON’T do it all!  

In fact, there are lots and lots of things I don’t do (and I’m continually doing less “extra stuff” as the months go by).

It’s just that the things I DO do are also things I showcase on my blog — because that’s my job.

It’s my job to keep our house relatively clean, and then share the tips and tricks I use to keep it that way (plus, I really enjoy cleaning)

It’s my job to keep our pantry and freezer stocked, and then share my simple freezer-friendly recipes (plus, I really enjoy cooking and baking when I have the time)

It’s my job to can and preserve produce, and then share my recipes and time-saving tips (plus, I really enjoy the process and we LOVE the taste)

It’s my job to do fun home renovations, and then share the before and after transformations (plus, we purchased our house knowing we would do lots of renovations)

It’s my job to corral all our clutter, and then share how I do it (plus, I REALLY love a good organizing project)

It’s my job to take photos, edit photos, make photo books, and then share the process I go through and the resources I use (plus, digital photo albums are the one crafty thing I love doing)

It’s my job to live frugally, save more, spend less, and then share my simple money-saving tips (plus, I’ve always been frugal and really enjoy finding a great deal)

I think you get the idea…

I have the HUGE luxury of doing what I love every day (cooking, cleaning, organizing, renovating, decluttering, saving money, etc.) and getting paid to do it by sharing it here on my blog.

So obviously, it’s exponentially easier for me to keep up with all those household chores, organizing projects, photo albums, freezer cooking sessions, etc. because they are things I already enjoy doing, they are things I want to do, and they are things I am eventually paid to do by sharing the process on my blog.

There is no way I could ever do all the things listed above if I had a different job that required me to work outside the home.

NO WAY!

How’s that for letting my little secret out of the bag?

happy Nora

So when you read my blog posts (and I do hope you keep reading!) about all the domestic accomplishments I tackle every day; keep in mind that although I DO enjoy what I do, it’s also my job. You can’t compare your situation and accomplishments to mine because we don’t have the same proprieties, talents, interests, time constraints, or other obligations.

Similarly, when I see the mom of 5 in the grocery store with ‘perfect’ children, the women at church who volunteer so many hours, and the fellow bloggers who are doing such big things — I must remember that we don’t have the same proprieties, talents, interests, time constraints, or other obligations.

I’m not saying any of us are more or less busy, I’m just saying we’re all busy in different ways — and that’s healthy.

.

Resist that urge to compare yourself to me, to other bloggers, to your mother, to your sister, to your friend, to your neighbor, to the women at church, to the mothers at the grocery store, and to any other person who is doing something you feel you’re not doing — but maybe should be doing.

Just don’t do it!

It’s not easy, but it will save you so much stress, anxiety, worry, and feelings of inadequacy — so I’d say it’s worth trying.

Plus, wouldn’t this be a great way to start a New Year!

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40 comments

  1. Beth

    01/14/2014

    LOVE this. Inherently, I know all of this but sometimes reading blogs becomes frustrating with the attitude attached (even if not intended). And listening to other moms with seemingly similar situations. Such a thoughtful post! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah — if you really think about it, pretty much ALL the information on my blog is stuff people already know deep down inside. It’s just finding a new way to present that information, reading it over and over again for the 100th time, or hearing it from a different perspective that sometimes is just what we need for it to really “register” with us!

    [Reply]

    Angie Fann Reply:

    We often forget that the brilliant blog posters are simply sitting behind their computer and remunerating over their mistakes and trying to pass on what makes life better for them … it doesn’t mean they haven’t beat their head against a wall a time or two!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Exactly! Actually, some of my best and most popular posts have been because I’ve tried and failed, tried and failed, gotten frustrated, and then finally succeeded doing something — and the success is the “something” I share in my post.

    [Reply]

  2. Homevironment

    01/14/2014

    What a nice post !!! Thanks for sharing!!

    [Reply]

  3. Becky

    01/14/2014

    Since I happen to live in West Michigan pretty close to you based on the locations you give. I’m pretty sure the women in Meijer’s is one of my good friends! She makes most things look easy as well as home schooling all of them and also many church things. As they make their way into church and all sit in front of us using only 4 chairs since the kids like to sit by each other. While we are behind them with our three boys with my husband and I between them so they can’t start a fight while trying to listen to the service.:) and taking a short trip into the store ends in wrestling matches on the floor! Talk about comparing! And coming to get my children so I can have a break after a surgery. But she would tell me God gave all our children with different temperaments for a reason and we are just to raise them for him and enjoy their unique qualities!
    She is the sweetest woman you would every meet. But it is so hard not to compare! Thanks for this great post! And here’s to 2014 just being the best we can be at the point we are at. May God Bless you and your family. Praying this next one Loves to sleep!

    [Reply]

  4. Kim

    01/14/2014

    Thank you for this reminder! I often find myself feeling like my life should be in a “different” place right now. I should have accomplished way more by my age, I should have 2 children, not just one right now, I should be owning instead of renting, I should be at the next level or my career, etc, etc, etc…but when I sit back and think about it, I have done a lot. I am just in a different place than others that I compare myself to. And you know what, that’s ok!

    Thanks again!!!

    [Reply]

  5. Elizabeth

    01/14/2014

    I think I just got a part of the answer to my prayers!!!! I am unique!!!

    Thanks Andrea!

    [Reply]

  6. Linda B

    01/14/2014

    Great post, Andrea! I’ve done this way too many times over the years.
    My dh says he thinks other women might look at me and do the same thing. We need to remember we are not always seeing the whole picture.

    One more factor we should all keep in mind: Family Support

    If I’m not mistaken, you had a mother or mother in law help with the applesauce, for example. That’s how Amish women get a lot done: They have close extended family support to tackle big jobs together. I think that is a big factor for many women. If you have family support for babysitting, help with big jobs, etc.., you can get more done than if you are living away from extended family support and have to do everything yourselves.

    Thanks for this great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yup, we have tons of family help around our house — and yes, my mom and I did both our applesauce together at my house in one day. We specifically scheduled our applesauce day during Christmas break since both my mom and Dave are teachers so Dave was also home to keep Nora out of our way :)

    [Reply]

  7. Evie

    01/14/2014

    Thank you for this, Andrea. It’s a brilliant post, and I needed it! I can’t believe how I “give myself the business” sometimes, thinking how much better my mother did this or that. My parents never put that guilt trip thing on me, and I always felt as though they adored me and celebrated me just as I was, so where I got that need to bug myself about not being as good at things as my mother, I don’t know. “Just be yourself!” Those are the words I grew up hearing, but now here I am at 68 fussing at myself over things that aren’t perfect. I needed to hear what you said today! I’m uniquely me; I’m doing lots of good and generous things with my life; and I truly am trying in good faith to do the best I can to make the things I touch better. Tearing myself down off and on through the day with little negative thoughts is so not realistic. You’re right, it’s a New Year, and I will feed my spirit with little positive thougts of encouragement through the day and keep on saying, “Thank you, me!”

    [Reply]

  8. Rachel @ casamarcelli

    01/14/2014

    What great (and wise!) words. Thank you for this!! It’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap – especially with all of the instagrammed, blogged-about and facebooked photos that we see of perfect “highlight” moments. It’s easy to think we should all be able to do that. Yet we all have different situations, different talents and different responsibilities. Therefore our lives will be different too. Thanks, Andrea.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes exactly, while I do thin it’s fun to watch everyone’s highlights on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram — I must remind myself that they are exactly that — HIGHLIGHTS of their lives.

    No one wants to post the crappy things of life on Facebook (and frankly, I wouldn’t want to read about the crappy things of everyone else’s lives!) so I’ll just oooh and ahhh over everyone else’s highlights but then remember not to compare my entire life to their few highlight moments!

    [Reply]

  9. Maria

    01/14/2014

    Thanks for sharing, Andrea. Brilliant post as always. I find your posts give me a reality check and are so uplifting in that you really know how to put things in perspective.

    [Reply]

  10. Shelly

    01/14/2014

    Thank you so much for this post. Although I love reading your blog, I am also one who continually wonders why I cannot do all the things that you seemingly do with so little effort. I do have three children and work full-time as a high school teacher, but I want to do more of the things that you do like freezer cooking, etc. I also see the ladies at the grocery store and church with the line of quiet children while mine are wanting candy and hitting each other. Thanks for reminding me that it’s ok to not get everything done the same as others. Very helpful post! Thanks! :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    well, I can tell you right now why you “can’t do everything I do” — and you said it word-for-word in your own comment. You have THREE kids and work FULL TIME outside of the home.

    I’m home ALL day long — and while I’m certainly not just sitting around watching TV, I have tons more time for all those domestic “chores”! Sounds like you’re doing OK over there Shelly!

    [Reply]

  11. Verity

    01/14/2014

    Awww. I loved this post. I needed it today.

    Seriously, I laughed and cried! :-D

    Thanks for a transparent and enjoyable article.

    [Reply]

  12. Pascale

    01/14/2014

    Hello Andrea,

    Perhaps I missed the info as I was browsing your website, but can you tell me how you get paid from writing your blog?

    Your blog has now become my favorite one because you share so much useful info and are also into simplifying things. You actually tell us how you do things and I LOVE that.

    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    If you search through the “Work” section of my blog — you’ll find lots of information about this type of thing. However, this post specifically lays everything out in terms of how I make a full-time income online.

    [Reply]

  13. Vanessa Scott

    01/14/2014

    Thank you so much for this post! I am currently struggling with comparing myself to others in the work place. I feel like I should be moving up faster and I am really disappointed becasue I am comparing myself to other people who have differenct situations. This was a great post because it reminds me to not look at what others are doing and just focus on what I am doing. I am where I am for a reason and God has a plan for me.

    [Reply]

  14. Jessica

    01/14/2014

    This is SO true. I think the number one characteristic of being a mom is the back and forth feeling of How come I can’t do it all to Wow for five minutes I feel like I can do it all! It comes with the job :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, I think you nailed it!

    [Reply]

  15. Erin

    01/14/2014

    Thanks for telling us your secret! It is so true that we only see…what we can see about other people. And the truth will always remain – absolutely NO ONE can do it all! Not me, not you, not anyone!! Let’s be kind to ourselves and others we pass by. Giving grace ~

    [Reply]

  16. Sue

    01/14/2014

    I, as well, have often wondered how so many bloggers are able to get so much done. And, I got so discouraged about it that I emailed a blogger back a year or so ago, and she told me the “real” story. They don’t. Oh, they do get a ton done for blog posts, however, some of them have their groceries delivered, some of them have a house keeper that comes in once a week. Let’s see…some of them have husbands that help them out with their blogs. Several of them have mentioned on their blogs that their husbands proofread their posts for them. Some of them have husbands that work from home and help out a LOT with chores around the house. My husband works outside the home, and works quite a bit of overtime. We don’t have much family support, my husband has never proofread one of my blog posts, I do all the housekeeping, including laundry, and gardening. And I’ve been painting our house, room by room, floor by floor (its a 4 level back split). Oh, I’ve also painted the outside, completely by myself, except for help with our shed. And, I’ve also heard a LOT of bloggers talk about moving “junk” out of the camera’s eye before taking pictures for blog posts. So, I guess what I’m saying is what most people “see” is only a small fraction of what goes on behind the scenes. That’s life. By the way, I feel for you. Having Nora, and a new baby on the way, lol! We had a “Nora”, although she never asked for anything in a store. Actually, she was the best behaved when we were out! Go figure!

    [Reply]

  17. Ann

    01/14/2014

    “This comparison thing? It makes Me (God) sad.”
    http://skitguys.com/videos/item/psalm-139

    [Reply]

  18. Patty

    01/14/2014

    This post brought back memories of me wheeling my screaming (at the top of his lungs) son through a grocery store because I wouldn’t give in to his temper tantrum. I’m sure more than one person thought I was not able to “control” my son. I stuck to my beliefs that I could not give in to his demands but also felt judged by others.

    What a good reminder that our personal skills, talents, interests are what make us unique. I know when I was a young mother I felt pressure to do the “right” things and with social media we have easy access to an unrealistic measuring stick. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that only I can decide what the priorities are for myself and my family.

    Thanks for another heartfelt, meaningful post. God’s blessings on you and your family as you anticipate your new arrival.

    [Reply]

  19. JoDi

    01/14/2014

    Very wise words! We never get to see the whole picture, especially online. I love it when bloggers post “behind the scenes stuff” about what really goes on. One blogger had her beautiful home photographed for a magazine and shared about all the props the crew brought in and the rearranging they did to get the shots they wanted. It was a good reminder that life is not picture perfect for anyone, even a home blogger whose job is making their home look photo ready!

    [Reply]

  20. Siobhan

    01/14/2014

    Great post :) thank you

    [Reply]

  21. Rebecca

    01/14/2014

    I find it healthier to compare myself to myself! What am I doing better than this time last year? What areas can I improve? You have to do the things that “fuel” YOU, not what others have deemed worth your time. If you love canning, and it brings you joy then can! But don’t can because you think you should or because it would make a cute Pinterest picture :)

    Everybody’s got their things. Some of us are good at some things, and not so good at others. That’s what makes the world interesting!

    [Reply]

  22. Tracy

    01/14/2014

    Sometimes it’s small victories that count, I remember once when my toddler son was in town with me and he screamed the place down, unusual for him so I wasn’t quite sure what to do. A woman came over and told me I should smack him! I remember being extremely proud of myself for not smacking HER!!!

    It’s such a thankless task being a mother, so many of us set aside the rest of our lives to put children ( and partner/family ) first only to find we then are less wealthy, less healthy, less happy plus no one values what we’ve done…including our own children often. Until they get their own…

    It’s that or drive yourself distracted trying to work ( which in America= OVERwork, little vacation, long hours etc ) whilst trying to be available as a parent.

    I don’t regret the sacrifices I made, though truthfully I wish now I’d been more selfish, more insisting on having my life too. I regret believing I should help people so much, I just got used.

    I don’t for one minute wish I’d done more domestic work or care what other people think about me, finally.

    Wish I’d learned that lesson earlier though.

    [Reply]

  23. Tracy

    01/14/2014

    oh and as for someone else’s comment on bloggers who show only what they want to be seen, I followed a British blogger for ages who did that, I finally saw through her tissue of manufactured lies…..and even one of my friends here, she re-wrote the fact of being fired from her job as ‘setting up in private practice’….in their Christmas ’round Robin’ newsletter.

    [Reply]

  24. Debbie

    01/15/2014

    This was really nice to read and provided a much needed perspective for me! Thanks!

    I just want to make a comment about those “fellow blogging friends.” I do look at quite a few blogs via Pinterest, and I do learn a lot of good things from them. BUT, I have to say that there are only a handful of blogs that I read CONSISTENTLY, and yours is at the TOP OF THAT LIST! I check it almost every day (and I definitely do not check any others this often)!

    I love your blog because I can identify with what you write about. You give tips and suggestions that are relevant to my life, and because you say things in a way that gives me a fresh perspective (like today!).

    Thanks for all of the work you put into it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Aw thanks Debbie! So glad my blog is at the top of your list — and thanks for the comments you made too!

    [Reply]

  25. Mary

    01/15/2014

    Great post really got me thinking! I do often compare and know I must stop!! Keep up the good work, I have been following your blog since before Nora was born and appreciate all the hard work you put into your posts!

    [Reply]

  26. Candis

    01/15/2014

    Thank you!!!! :-)

    [Reply]

  27. Molly

    01/15/2014

    Andrea-loved this post. I’ve been embracing the phrase “dwell in the possibility” and this post reminds me that we have different possibilities!

    [Reply]

  28. Marisa

    01/15/2014

    Thanks for this. Really needed to hear it!

    [Reply]

  29. Amy

    01/16/2014

    I just heard a quote on the Dr. Oz show that Cameron Diaz shared while she was a guest on his show. It was “Comparison is a brutal assault against oneself”
    So true.

    [Reply]

  30. Lynn

    01/16/2014

    I became a single parent when my daughter was 4 years old. I have read and observed many blogs posted by married women with more than one child. I have wondered how any of these bloggers get it all done. One particular activity i have noticed is the huge organizational notebooks that are maintained, the efficient shopping, incredible organization and labeling of all organizational baskets, etc. and how smoothly all the varied tasks get done within the home. As a believer in going green, used mason jars before the ‘big discovery’, worked full-time and experienced the discrimination of women as head of the household. This list could go on forever. It is a myth that women can do it all, bring home the bacon, preserve all the food from the organic garden, organize to perfection and spend quality time with my children.

    Love this post and I do believe that many bloggers have a support machine that allows them to all the tasks as reported. I came along during the equality of women rights and the right we have earned is to work for less money, take care of the home and children and whatever else falls into the homemake, taker care of all needs of the family and the ability for a woman to do this without support is a myth. I have lived and breathed this.

    I have researched many bloggers and truly believe that there is much support and coaching to maintain a blogging site. No one lives in the beautiful expensive home and does it all by themselves.

    In terms of going green, I like your suggestions. Going grreen does not include putting a label on the jar lid, wrapping another label with rafia, written instructions for the goodies in the jar and a label on the mason jar. So do the math, all the printing and purchasing of labels is not a frugal act.

    Know this is a long post. Probably will not be on the site. I have written this our of respect for your approach to organization. Middle class families cannot afford this upper end of organization due to the expense. We can organize with recycled boxes, etc. A tip of the hat to you.

    Women cannot feel good about themselves comparing their life to this magical life portrayed on most of the blogging sites. Get some good ideas and be true to the integrity of going green, quality family time and enjoy each day. Some of the sites I have reviewed regularly are not realistic for a woman working, caring for the home, children and husband. No way a single mother can accomplish what I have seen on the blogs. I have lived it and now take care of an elderly parent.

    I know this reply is long. I hope you read this and continue to reflect what makes sense. Too bad most bloggers are not in touch with the heart beat of middle America struggling with low wages, poor work conditions, etc.

    [Reply]

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