Misery loves company… the positive side of the comparison trap

It’s no secret that I’m a reader. In addition to the pile of books on my nightstand, the daily newspaper and various online publications, I subscribe to a number of blogs, so with regular frequency—like every.single.day—I enjoy the writing of others. (It’s a wonder I get anything done!)

My favourite bloggers are the ones who are honest about themselves, their lives, their bodies, their marriages, their parenting. You know, all the hard things. I especially love it if the author can offer some perspective through a lens of humour.

But, I confess, as much as I love reading the work of others, it takes a toll on my aspirations as a writer.

It’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap. To entertain the thought that I have nothing new or unique to offer. It’s all been said before, and much more eloquently or humorously than I could dream of saying it. So why bother?

Facebook can be a slippery slope too. Carefully cultivated personas and best faces forward, it’s not always a truthful representation of who we are or where we’re at in our lives. The comparison trap is alive and well on Facebook.

My profile picture is usually me looking good after a hair appointment or on some special occasion where I actually had to clean up a bit. (And, strategically, most often from the shoulders up!)

My Facebook family? They are almost always smiling and doing fun and creative things. Online, you can’t hear the bickering, experience the stubbornness, or see the piercings or tattoos. For all intents and purposes, we are a normal family.

I don’t think that I am intentionally trying to fool people into believing that my life is Facebook perfect. Certainly anyone who really knows my family and me can tell you that this is not the case.

It’s just that when I am running interference between my kids so they don’t maim each other—which happens several times during each and every day—the last thing I’m thinking about is taking a photo or sharing a happy story. Nope. I’m just trying not to kill them.

So, when something good or unique or creative does happen, well, THAT’S noteworthy, is it not?

I think it would be too easy to slip into Facebook becoming my public rant space if I started posting everything I was thinking or feeling throughout the course of a week. Or day. Trust me, you just don’t need to know all that.

Perhaps that’s why it’s so important to spend time immersed in the perspective of others? It helps me to take the spotlight off of my own dysfunction and realize that I am not alone in my various struggles and insecurities. The comparison trap doesn’t have to be a negative one.

And, for some reason, that’s just such a comforting thought isn’t it?

To just know that some other exasperated mom somewhere in the world is feeling the same way about her kids just right about now.

And some other writer out there is staring at a blank screen and a blinking cursor.

If I can lay down society’s notion of success or value on the altar of comparison and instead find comfort in the similarities, there is so much encouragement in that. Maybe we can all just lift each other up a little bit?

In a display of divine, perfect timing, as I was writing this post yesterday morning, I received an email from a friend of mine; a mother with two children roughly the same age as my youngest two.

She said she and her husband were taking the kids hiking today, and confessed that they were seriously considering paying the kids per kilometer hiked in a pre-emptive strike against perpetual grumbling. “Living the dream…” she wrote, tongue in cheek.

Living the dream, indeed. I laughed out loud. I have bribed children to hike! Isn’t this par for the course? Some sort of non-grumbling incentive/pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? How wonderful for me to know that I am not the only parent who has resorted to bribes to get children moving.

Sadly, my friend is now officially out of the running for Mother of the Year this year. But maybe 2016 will be her time. I’m usually disqualified by mid-January.

the only person


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