Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The comparison game.

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

I first came across this quote in this pin. How true! I thought that it would be neat to turn it into an embroidery piece. Weeks later, I started working on a cross stitch pattern for the quote, and that exact same day, two of my favorite bloggers wrote about it {Natalie and Mollie}. Coincidence? I don't think so.

I know that I usually don't get too personal here. There are reasons for that. First of all, I write mostly about my interests: sewing/crafting and old movies. And it's pretty easy to write about those things and not get personal. Also, when blogs get personal, they tend to get a little negative. I don't particularly like to read blogs that are depressing.


There's a difference between being overly-negative and being honest. And of course, I want to be honest. It's so easy to present a better version of yourself on your blog and hide all of the not-so-good things. And as a "good girl" who wants everyone to like me, it's even more tempting for me. {I've got a whole post about that little topic that's been sitting in my drafts for months because I've not yet been brave enough to publish it.}

So here's my first tiny attempt at being more authentic on my blog.

I've struggled with comparison for as long as I can remember. And I think a lot of other girls (dare I say, most girls?) struggle with it, too. It definitely seems to be more of a girl problem instead of something that guys deal with.

I've always been a little strange. {When I reminisce about things that happened when I was younger, I usually end up saying, "I was a strange kid." One of my parents usually replies, half-jokingly, "Were?"} In elementary and middle school, I was a good bit taller than my classmates {but I have to say that I never, ever got bullied or made fun of. The only reason I can figure for that is because my height made me slightly intimidating. :) } I went through a chubby stage where I only wore baggy pants and big t-shirts, which, as you can imagine, didn't help things. I always felt awkward. I was always quiet and never confident. To make matters worse, I was one of the "smart kids." It's not exactly cool to finish your assignments and projects way ahead of time, or to have your nose stuck in a book during free time in class. :)

But I had a small band of sort-of misfit friends, especially in middle school. They didn't mind my frizzy hair, my Jesus Freak shirt, my obsession with the Newsboys, or the fact that I wrote my favorite song lyrics in my notebooks. And then when we started homeschooling in 9th grade, I fell into this whole world of wonderfully weird people and got to know some who were even "stranger" than me. :)

I stumbled into blogging almost three years ago. I loved it. There were tons of other girls out there my age who sewed and loved Jane Austen and mostly watched classic movies? Teenagers who knew who Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly were? I couldn't believe it.

But here's something I've learned over the past three years: Blogs can be breeding ground for comparison and jealousy. You come across a lot of people who seem to have perfect lives. It starts off innocently enough. I would think, wow, what a pretty outfit she's wearing. Or, that's exciting that she gets to visit Europe. Or, what a creative idea!

Then things change and the devil gets involved. And I start thinking things like this:
-She's so thin. Why can't I be thinner like her?
-My outfits look so dorky compared to hers.
-Her sewing skills are so much better than mine.
-Why can't I think of creative crafty ideas like that?
-It's not fair that she can afford to travel overseas every summer.

You have no idea how much I hate to admit that. But it's true.

Here's something else I've learned. When I find myself thinking things like that, I have to take a step back. And I look at my life and the countless ways that God has blessed me. And I get a little embarrassed and sheepish and guilty. Sorry, God- forgive me for foolishly imagining that I know better than you do.

So, I'm a little awkward. I have frizzy hair sometimes a lot, and I'm not thin. I don't wear make up, color my hair, or have much of a fashion sense {I'm mostly mentioning physical things here, because in my case, comparison has mostly revolved around me being insecure about the way I look compared to other girls}. I've not yet been able to afford a trip to England, and I might never be able to. I may never have one of those super-successful Etsy shops with thousands of sales.

But guess what? As I get older, I'm kind of starting to like my quirky self. I like that I have "unusual" interests for someone my age. And I'm so thankful for the life that God has given me.

{Even when it involves getting soaking wet chasing chickens- in my pajamas (it was a rather unexpected affair and I wasn't dressed)- during a thunderstorm. True story that happened during the writing of this very post. :) }

This might sound totally cheesy, but sometimes it's fun to take the negative things that I pick out about myself and put a positive twist on them. For example- my hair is frizzy. But it's also naturally curly and I don't have to deal with it much. As for not wearing make up, that just means it takes me a little less time to get ready and gives me a little extra time to read, right? :) Okay- I can't afford to visit England. But that gives me the opportunity to see all of the wonderful sights in my own home state that I've never seen before. Perspective is everything. :)

Comparison is an ugly game that only spreads envy and hurt and bitterness. Trying to be someone else is exhausting! But just being myself frees me to live.

Whether Theodore Roosevelt or Dwight Edwards said it, comparison is the thief of joy. How on earth can I be joyful and content in my beautiful life if I'm too busy focusing on the beautiful (but different, and never perfect, no matter how it looks) life that God gave someone else?

So...I said all of that to say this. :) I finished the cross stitch piece and it's going on my wall, a daily reminder that I really need.

I sketched out the design on graph paper, but then I remembered that I had downloaded a free cross stitch chart program to my computer a long time ago. So I transferred my design to that and turned it into a PDF. And now I'm sharing it with you guys, in case you also need the reminder.

{Yes, I know there's a crease in my Aida cloth. Some of the cloth that I was given has majorly stubborn creases, but it's not as noticeable in person.}

This is the first time I've done anything like this, so I don't know if it will go as smoothly as I hope. I've never uploaded a file to share before, so please let me know if there are any problems and it doesn't work.

It's a very simple piece that only requires two colors of embroidery floss. The colors I used are noted in the pattern. I love these two colors together, and I'm one of those girls who can only handle pink in small doses. :) By the way, if you frame it in an 8 inch hoop like this, some of the side design gets cut off. It would be best in an 8x8 frame, but I didn't have one. (Do they even make them? I know that a lot of Etsy prints come in 8x8.)

This is the first of hopefully many free patterns and tutorials on Sew Technicolor. :)

And hopefully the beginning of a more honest and joyful blogger.

Until next time,


  1. I can definitely relate to this. I find myself comparing myself to other people a lot, especially when I go on Facebook (for some reason). Thank you for the great reminder! I love that embroidery piece you did, too. :)

  2. Oh beautiful, wise words my friend!

  3. Excellent post, Kristin. Brava! Honestly, comparison is one of the hardest issues I've been faced with in blogging. My blog reader is filled with lovely fashion & sewing bloggers, all taking gorgeous pictures and creating amazing pieces. When I turn the camera on myself, those dreadful comparisons start creeping in. I wish I were a smaller size like they are. I wish I could pull of circle skirts better like so-and-so. They're the hardest things to banish! But, in reality, who wants to be like someone else? You're exactly right, from point A to Z. Thanks for the great post!

  4. I just stumbled across your blog and I could be almost reading my own story. I was homeschooled too (from 2nd-12th grade), I listened to more Newsboys and DC Talk than pretty much anyone else could stomach, and my hair has always been a frizzy mess! I love this post and I'm so glad you wrote it because I need to hear this stuff. Such a good reminder! I'm so tired of feeling that achy, inadequate feeling every time I see someone else's success (for me, it's usually in the context of graduate school). Letting go and embracing what God has for ME...a huge thing to do but such a relief!

  5. i really enjoyed this post. it is refreshing to read a blog post that isn't some glamorized version of life's events. i'm new to blogging so i don't really compare when it comes to blogs but i am guilty of the comparison game mostly when it comes to school and careers.
    i think that the advent of social media has compounded the problem for a lot of people. it is so possible to create this ideal vision of life that other people can conflate that vision with the actual rough and tumble of real living and feel badly about themselves.
    thank you for the honest post!

  6. So true and I really appreciate your honesty! I think I need to put this quote somewhere where I can be reminded of it often. We need to stop stealing our own joy!!!


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