In an Effort to Avoid Comparing Myself to You…

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

“don’t compare your worst to someone’s best”Marinka, in a comment on this blog

I’ve heard this advice before. Hell, I’ve given this advice.

Don’t compare your worst to someone else’s best.

The moment we start to compare ourselves, we stop appreciating our own gifts and accomplishments. Because we don’t do a fair comparison. We do match up our worst days to someone else’s best, and then we are disappointed when we come out as not good enough.

But what’s the alternative?

Do we compare ourselves to other people’s shortcomings? Well, we could, but that would be a pretty crappy way to live.

Do we learn to compare our best to someone else’s best, so that at leas it’s a fair fight? Well, we could, except that many of us seem to be missing a wire in our brains that makes those kinds of comparisons easy. Throw in a case of PMS or plain old self doubt and that task is flat out impossible.

I think, instead, I’ll practice comparing my present to my past.

1 year old brittBaby Britt vs. Today Britt

Baby Britt has adorable baby cheeks and arms and sockets-where-wrists-should-be. I want to eat her up! She is exactly, perfectly, what a baby Britt should be.

But Today Britt knows how to use a toilet. Hooray for me!

little kid britt

Little Kid Britt vs. Today Britt

Little Kid Britt, I think, wins the award for cutest Britt ever. This was definitely my best chance at winning any kind of photo or beauty contest. And Little Kid Britt hadn’t quite figured out yet that there was something about her that made her look different than everyone else. I wonder if it’s that not-yet-knowing that makes her so damn cute.

This version of Little Kid Britt also hasn’t learned about things like abuse or divorce. She has no idea what it means to live with an addict or how much it hurts to think you’re not good enough. I’m pretty sure it’s that not-yet-knowing that makes her look so happy.

But Little Kid Britt also doesn’t yet know how strong she is. She doesn’t realize that she is smart and brave and that she will someday be more than enough for two little kids of her own.

bigger kid brittBigger Kid Britt vs. Today Britt

Bigger Kid Britt is starting to figure out all of the ways in which she does not quite fit. She feels awkward about the way she looks and the things that go on inside her house when no one is around. But she loves the crap out of her momma and her little brothers.

Today Britt still struggles from time to time with the ways in which she does not quite fit, but she’s much happier with the way she looks. The things that go on insider her house when no one else is around are what bring her the greatest joy. She still loves the crap out of her momma and her little brothers.

16 year old Britt 16 Year Old Britt vs. Today Britt

I don’t think 16 year old anyone realizes how good they’ve got it. I was certainly no exception. 16 Year Old Britt thought she was fat in her size 5 jeans, standing on a bridge in Venice with her Nana. She couldn’t even fathom a world without her Nana in it.

Today Britt lives with the memory of watching her Nana die. It lives beside the other painful memories of death and loss and your world being turned upside down. But Today Britt knows that she has survived all of those dark days and lived to laugh again, and that knowledge gives her a deep sense of hope that 16 Year Old Britt could never have imagined.

just married brittJust Married Britt vs. Today Britt

Just Married Britt was scared but optimistic. She was absolutely certain that her marriage would work out perfectly if she could keep teaching Jared how to behave properly. She was also absolutely certain that she was always right.

Today Britt really wishes she could go back in time and punch Just Married Britt in the face. And then she would drag her to a relationship counselor and make her learn basic communication skills. Today Britt keeps her marriage counselor on speed dial and only feels a little disappointed when she has to make a call for a follow-up appointment.

meJust Moved to Florida Britt vs. Today Britt

Just Moved to Florida Britt was making major changes in her life. She changed homes, changed jobs, and had to learn how to live without family and friends nearby. She was certain that making enough big changes would help her finally be happy. Just Moved to Florida Britt didn’t know about the oncoming battle with depression that she would come frighteningly close to losing.

Today Britt understands that happiness is not a place, and daily anti-depressants are an essential part of her normal. She’s good with that.

Black and white by Mishi Today Britt

I don’t have it all figured out yet, and there are still lots of things I want to learn and see and do. But it’s impossible not to look back at the last 31 years and be amazed – proud even! – of the progress that’s been made.

How have you changed over the years? What would you discover if you compared yourself to only yourself?

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  1. Nanna says:

    God. This is absolutely my favorite post ever, and you know I have read lots of them. What an incredible journey you’ve taken, and WHO is cooler than me that I have gotten to tag along.

    What a mind-blowing woman you are, child.

  2. alyssa terrell says:

    Hey Britter!!! I just want you to know that i thought you were always beautiful growing up! In fact, I was often jealous. We haven’t spoken in so long,but I was surprised to hear how much we’ve had in common over the years-right down to living in Florida!It would definitely be cool to talk and catch up sometime! But regardless, just know you always have a place in my heart-like a sister. Love Always, Alyssa

  3. It is a part of our society to compare ourselves to others. But when you start getting out of it and start competing against ourselves we really improve.

    Something that has helped me with this has been to remember to keep an abundance mentality. When you compare yourself to others you are secretly rooting for them to fail, because then it will be easier for you to win.

    If you instead adopt a mindset that it is great when it goes well for others. That prosperity for others means prosperity in the world which means in the long run more prosperity for you, all of a sudden you notice that the comparing starts to stop. You stop comparing yourself to others and instead focus on how you can be the best you can be.

    What do you think?

  4. FireMom says:

    Lovely post.

    Makes me think about past mes. I know that 16 year old me also just didn’t get it. At all.

  5. the muskrat says:

    Wow. I like this.
    But, I’m sort of afraid what it would do to me to go through this exercise right now.

  6. Loukia says:

    This post makes me love you. And made me get teary-eyed here at work. You’re an amazing person. Reading your On faces and eyes post, I just have to say this: when I hadn’t met you in person yet, and only knew you from pictures of your blog, I thought you were stunning. Especially in that black and white picture that used to be on your blog… I think you were wearing a tutu or something? Gorgeous. Then I met you, and all I remember, I swear, during the first 10 minutes of talking to you? “Wow, this girl is SO cute and SO awesome and SO much fun to talk to!” And then? I saw your name tag… Miss Brit… “OMG! YOU’RE MISS BRITT!!!” In my defense of not totally knowing who you were at first? I had a few drinks in me. ;) You’re gorgeous in person, and in pictures, inside and out. xo

  7. Loukia says:

    Also, I so want to do a post like this soon, too.

  8. Karin says:

    I love this post. I am at a place in my life where I think making the same kind of assessments may do me some good.

  9. Megan says:

    First – Emma is carbon copy of Little Kid Britt. Adorable!

    It’s so hard not to compare. I’m not even sure I want to compare myself to my past selves. Those selves had a 24-inch waist and great thighs. *sigh*

    But.

    I’d like to compare my current self with the person I’d like to be so I know what I’m reaching for.

    P.S. – Your current self? Is someone I love and admire greatly.

  10. Marsha says:

    I love this! I recently read a blog post about comparing yourself to other people. Something I am definitely guilty of. And something that I have been working on changing over the past few years. But I like this idea, comparing your current self to past selves.

  11. Lisa says:

    I saw Little Kid Britt and said holy wow, it’s Emma too. FTR I think all the Britts are beautiful.

    I think the biggest things I’d like to go back and teach my younger selves are self-awareness and acceptance (of both myself and others). I’d also like to go back and smack my high school self into picking a career path instead of floating blithely along from one thing to another.

  12. kateanon says:

    You are amazing. It takes a lot to not compare ourselves to others and point out all the things we view as faults. You have perspective on the younger you and can look back in a way no one else can, except at their own self.

    You should be proud of who you are, who you were and who you have still yet to become.

    • Miss Britt says:

      This little “exercise” was really helpful for me because I *have* been struggling with comparing myself to others, especially when it comes to some definition of “success”.

      And thank you. xo

  13. Jared says:

    I realized that it doesn’t really seem fair to compare younger Jared to older Jared, then thought I wonder if it isn’t really are fair assessment to compare myself to anyone else either..??

    P.S.
    Our wedding pictures kinda suck.

  14. Oh, Britt. I knew that when I found your blog a few weeks ago that I’d stumbled on to something great. What I didn’t know was that I’d found a soul sister!

    The real truth is that the last picture of you is the best of the bunch. It’s centered. And your eyes are so reflective (literally and figuratively).

    My mom used to say, “Don’t compare your insides to someone’s outsides.” Sounds a lot like “don’t compare your worst to someone else’s best”, right?

    • Miss Britt says:

      It’s funny how our most recent pictures are almost always the best ones!

      Maybe that’s just because I know a bunch of really good photographers now. lol

  15. Terry Oltman says:

    Wow, just simply amazing. You are a very special lady my dear.

  16. Faiqa says:

    My friend, this is the best post ever written in the history of the Internet. Not that this matters because you’re not comparing yourself to others anymore. But just in care you are. YOU TOTALLY WIN.
    I love yesterday Britt and today Britt. And have no doubt that I will love tomorrow Britt, too.

  17. Deidre says:

    I loved reading this post! It is so sweet…

    I quite enjoy today’s Britt but I am sure I would have been equally fond of all the others.

  18. Alexandra says:

    I think doing an exercise like this would make everyone stop and see what they’ve overcome.

    I dont think we give ourselves the credit we should, for making it over life’s obstacles and challenges.

    I need to do this exercise.

    I never saw anything like this before, I like it.

  19. Robin says:

    Another post I needed to read today. You made me cry…and think.

    You sure we aren’t related? Seriously? The human body can do really weird things with pigment while in the womb….

  20. Kelley says:

    Miss Britt, as always, I’m teary even as I write this. The comparisons start way back (3 sisters) right up to day. I know I’m loved, have wonderful family, extraordinary friendships…and yet I always find myself comparing body, clothes, lifestyles to others, who in fact probably aren’t half as blessed as I am. Thanks for the reminder.

  21. Vikki says:

    The words, the pictures, the insights, you – beautiful. Truly.

  22. Lance says:

    Miss Britt,
    My first visit here, and what a wonderful written article. It reminds me that looking back at where I”ve come from and seeing where I am today…it’s all good (even the challenges along the way).

    And I *love* how openly you share here – what a gift that is…

    Wonderful, wonderful way to end my evening tonight.

  23. Bitchin' Amy says:

    I adore this post! It is a wonderful thing to grow up and be able to look back to each of those stages and take a peek from the outside. Lord knows that going through each of those painful parts the first time can be hell.

    p.s. I’d like to go punch the newly-married-Amy in the face, too, and give her the phone number of the marriage counselor that brought her & her OH back from the brink. :)

  24. powerful post! might just be my favorite thing you have written.
    and that is saying something because so many have your words have caused intense emotions.
    also, you are beautiful. in so many ways.
    love you.

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