The comparison trap: who among us has not gotten tangled up within it in our lives as writers?
I think we writers are especially vulnerable. By the very nature of our work, we set ourselves up on a consistent basis. We bleed our souls onto paper then release our words to the world. And on a particularly down day, we might take a look around and see how brilliant everyone else is and wonder why we fall so short.
Most days I’m pretty good about keeping things in proper perspective, but there are times I weaken. It’s usually when something else in my life isn’t going quite right. That creates doubts in others areas – spots in my heart that can easily be pierced.
To keep from becoming entangled, I try to keep this mantra ever in my head:
Shine in your own light!
Each of us has something unique to offer and there’s room for us all; there really is. At times we soak up the light of another to draw inspiration, but it must end there. We need to stay mindful of pulling back in order to recognize the unrepeatable nature of who we are, so that we might dance along the singular path we alone were meant to dance.
Recently, I attended what’s known as the FM Power Lunch, a monthly offering of lunch and an inspirational presentation at a church here in
The most recent focused on transition and change, and recognizing where we’re at in our earthly journey. Different seasons of our lives present different opportunities. Some that might be valid in one season will not be as helpful in another. We need to assess which season we’re in to make the best use of our days.
Pastor Matthew, who leads the presentations, said it helps to realize that our assignment in life is limited only by two things: time and opportunity. I was still pondering that deep thought when he began talking about how we can best utilize the time we have.
“Nobody has been raised up to fill the spot you’re in right now,” he said. “Your particular assignment is shaped by God for you.”
I find that to be a profound idea, and I love the thought of being on assignment. It’s the reporter in me, perhaps, or the adventurous little girl of yesteryear (still residing within) who enjoys the challenge of going on a mission.
We are all here to accomplish something. Some of us are further along in fulfilling our assignment than others.
I’m thinking now of what Harper Lee said when asked why she had not completed a sequel to her beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. “I guess I’ve already said what I needed to say,” she answered bluntly.
Well said indeed. However, I’m not there quite yet. There are still words within me waiting to be released. My assignment definitely does not feel complete.
And as Pastor Matthew made so clear, there is nobody else – not anyone who has existed in the history of the world or who ever will exist – who can fill our assignment the way we can. My assignment is Roxane-shaped. Yours is (your name)-shaped. The shape and intensity of each of our lights, which guides our assignment, are also unique and unrepeatable.
So how do we know we’re on the right track in completing what we’re here to accomplish? A few more nuggets from Pastor Matthew:
- Build on the mistakes of the past and then plow forward with confidence.
- Ask yourself what your choices today will mean for tomorrow; think long term in discerning your future.
- Remember that different does not mean better or worse.
This last one applies particularly well when filling a position previously held by someone else. If we try to fill someone else’s shoes, we’ll fail because our shoes can never fit that of another unrepeatable individual. Ours are as unique as our assignment, designed to hold our feet alone.
Pastor Matthew cautioned we may be tempted to feel like a failure because certain goals were not meant during our assignment. “Accept that you’re in a particular season now and it doesn’t mean you’re failing.”
Book not published yet? Maybe it’s not the right season. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
Finally, he advised that we embrace our unique calling, not the assignment meant for someone else in a different season. Another great nugget.
This talk fired me up. I’m at a transition point in my work life and I needed to hear these words, to be emboldened by them. I needed to remember that everything I’ve done up to this point has prepared me for where I’m at now and what’s to come, and that I have a specific assignment that only I can fill.
The same is true for you.
Considering all this, the comparison trap melts away. When we recognize our own “us-shaped” assignments, there’s no need to glance longingly at the assignment of another; i.e., the life, family or work opportunities. It’s an absolute waste of energy.
Instead, we need to recognize that we are in a particular season of our lives at a particular time in the history of the earth for a particular reason. That not only blows my mind, it motivates me to keep moving along on my path, shining in my own light and bringing my unique gifts, talents, experiences and flair to the world.
Do you ever fall into the comparison trap? If so, how do you untangle yourself?