Comparison is something that started off small for me. In elementary school, I frequently participated in the AR (Accelerated Reader) program because I loved to read and I believe that it was a requirement at the time. I remember answering questions about a book I read and feeling delight when I answer all of the questions correctly. I genuinely enjoyed those moments. My skills were taken note of and I was introduced to the competitive side of taking AR tests. "If you reach x amount of points, you'll win lunch with the school principal!" I remember reading 1-2 books per week just so I could boost my points and it became less about me loving reading and more about me competing with other students.

This small, seemingly "innocent" memory is something that would become a recurring theme in my life. My love for the things that I genuinely loved doing became replaced with the desire to prove that I was better than the next person. I had to be #1 or else, anything that I did was a waste of time to me. I didn't readily accept help because, in my eyes, I was more than capable of handling tasks and doing a damn good job at whatever was placed in front of me. I had to win and show others just how amazing I was. After all, these things were encouraged while I was a child so why should things be any different as I continued to grow?

I was introduced to what was deemed as "healthy" competition and it turned into a nasty habit of comparing my efforts to others. I recently had a conversation with my mom about feeling as if I am behind because some people that I grew up with have graduated from college, started their careers AND started their families, all while living on their own. I still live at home, I'll be graduating this year and I'm still trying to figure out how to get my career started all while working a 9-5 that has nothing to do with my career goals. Oh and how could I forget: the family that I was preparing myself to start no longer exists. This is why comparison is dangerous. Just like that, I quickly forgot about how much I've grown over the past year alone and what I've accomplished. I allowed myself to feel like my efforts have been futile because my peers have accomplished things that I sometimes feel are much greater than what I am currently accomplishing. Right now,I know that this is the hardest that I've probably ever worked, literally and figuratively. I'm accomplishing goals that are on my 2015 goal list and it's still the beginning of the month. I wrote this post to remind myself why it's time for me to break up with competition and comparison because they don't do anything except make me believe that I'm not doing enough. What I set out to initially accomplish had nothing to do with proving others wrong. Instead, I wanted to prove to doubtful me that I could get back on track and trust myself to accomplish what I want to in life. THAT is what ultimately matters the most.

I use myself as an example often because, well, I can only speak for me. We are bombarded with messages about being perfect, better than the rest, #1, etc. and this can cause us to lose sight of why we're even doing what we love to do. We stop doing things for ourselves and begin to worry more about how to "outdo" the next person. All that you can do is your personal best and that shouldn't have anything to do with what I or anyone else thinks it's supposed to be. I always say this but you have to trust that you are doing enough in your life. What is meant for the next person may not be anywhere near what God has planned for you specifically. Your purpose is custom designed for YOU so try not to worry about the path of anyone else. This is also a huge note to myself. Remember, we're in this together so let's celebrate our individual successes instead of focusing on why we're either better or worse than each other. When you genuinely put in the work, it will ALWAYS speak for itself. Trust that not competition and comparison.