Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Comparison Kills Confidence

"all the world's encouragement to "be yourself" is defeated from the get-go when we use other as the measure of who our "selves" should even be." 
 -Phylicia Masonheimer 

"I wish my hair were straight like her's."

"If only I had the fashion sense of my best friend..."

"He speaks so much better than me."

"I can't dance like them."

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I stare at the dressing room mirror, sucking in my stomach and standing on my toes. Trying clothes on is a huge pain already, but when you throw swimsuits into the mix, I can hardly stand a glance at that mirror without tearing up.

My hair is frizzy from spending six hours in the car. The florescent lighting turns my skin a pasty white, making my acne scars practically glow. If I only had her skn, her legs, her hair. Everything looked wrong in that mirror. My legs too big, my skin too pale, my shoulders too wide. Too much and not enough.

When we look around it seems like everyone else has it figured out. We see our friends who always know what to do, siblings who make friends without effort, debate partners who win speaker awards time after time, and we wonder how they manage to be so together.

This is where the problem begins. We start looking at the state everyone else is in, and we start believing that's what we should be. I should have better hair. I should have more friends. I should be skinnier, or curvier. I should be more athletic. I should be a better speaker. We compare ourselves to other people, celebrities or our friends, and all too frequently, we don't measure up.

But we can also take comparison a different direction. You can look at other people and say to yourself, "at least I'm not [XYZ] like that person." And instead of wishing you were like them, you judge them, all in an attempt to feel better about yourself. Any sort of confidence that comes from this is temporary.

||When we measure our worth by what other people look and act like, we miss our true value||


It's easy to point out the flaws and inadequacies in ourselves, while simultaneously looking at all the perfections in our friends. She doesn't have legs as big as mine. He doesn't rush through everything he has to say like I do. Suddenly, my legs and my speaking habits aren't the problem. The problem is my failure to measure up. The problem is that I'm not good enough.

Comparison tells us what we should be. Comparison tells us what we are isn't enough. Comparison kills relationships.

There's a lot that confidence contains, but we can't reach any of that when we base our worth on what we see in other people. First Samuel 16:7 says that "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." When we base our 'confidence' on the outward appearance, on the smiles and flawless faces, we miss what God sees: the heart. When we measure our worth by what other people look and act like, we miss our true value.

Our true value comes from God. It comes from His grace and love, from the heart He has given you. You were not created to be your best friend, your favorite celebrity, or your debate partner. You have been given a unique set of gifts, and when you strive to instead be someone you're not, you rob not only yourself of those gifts, but the people around you who could impact. While comparison is trying convince us of what we should be, confidence is knowing who we are and who we can be.

I could go on for thousands of words about confidence, but I want to start at the beginning: confidence begins when comparison ends. Until we stop comparing ourselves to others, we cannot have true confidence.

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When I stood in front of that mirror in that swimsuit, a thousand images of perfect bikini bodies ran through my mind. A thousand images of what I "should" be. I was so wrapped up in those picture perfect ideals that I lost sight of where my worth comes from.

Comparing myself to other people didn't affect my value, but it affected my view of myself, and consequently my confidence. The insecurities I felt that evening didn't fade until I began believing that my worth isn't defined by what I should be, but by how God loves me, and how He has created me. 

Comparison kills confidence, and that's what's up.

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