I Want To Be That Man/I Want To Be That Woman

Falling Into The Deadly Comparison Trap

When it hits you, you’re never prepared for it. I know I wasn’t this morning when I woke up.

But here’s the thing about waking up this morning. I was in that “in-between” state, a hazy, semi-conscious physicality where my brain processes unfettered thoughts, a point where I seem to be the most vulnerable.

And all that kept coming to me was how much of a failure I’ve been.

Usually, I can shake this crap, tell myself to move on and put it behind me, but somehow, this morning is different.

Somehow, my thoughts seem focused on the successes of others and comparing them against my own failures.

There’s a writer on this platform who I love and respect. Frankly speaking, there are a ton of writers who I love and respect on this platform.

I could spend the next fifteen minutes providing you folks a listicle of them all.

But this one particular writer has written her fair share about the comparison trap and how damaging it can be.

Most of us know her as a superstar, even though in several articles, she has downplayed her own success. She’s often written about how we shouldn’t fall into the comparison trap, how we should focus on our own path and soldier on.

I, for one, believe we should.

She has, on multiple occasions, written that falling into the comparison trap is a writer’s deadly sin.

Why isn’t my effort, my seven straight months of writing on this platform showing the same kind of progress?

Right, I know the writing journey I’m on isn’t like hers or his.

It’s my own path, and I’m supposed to walk it. But here’s a little tidbit my brain hammered me with this morning as I got up and shuffled into the kitchen for my first cup of coffee.

Curation notwithstanding, I’ve always told myself to concentrate on writing quality work with a focus on the quantity, and it would eventually get me where I wanted to go.

But it hasn’t.

And this morning in that foggy moment just before full consciousness, my brain had a field day with this fact.

Even before I pulled the covers back and my feet hit the floor, my brain was taking potshots at the target I’d evidently etched on my back during the night.

Why can’t you be like her and write stellar pieces which get distributed in topics? Why can’t you write like him and be recognized as a champion by your peers?

Why can’t you stop being a failure?

As far as your writing goes, you’ve failed at every attempt.

You’re not like her. Maybe you should be. You don’t have as many followers as he does. Why aren’t you like him? Why are your stats so dismal you don’t even check them anymore?

What about yesterday P.G.? You didn’t write a damned thing. You just sat in an easy chair and watched television all.day.long. You think you’re ever going to accomplish anything by sitting on your butt thinking you should be writing, but not writing?

Compared to him or her, you’re a wannabe, never going to be, thinking you’re a writer, but knowing you’re not. You’re just an old fool who’s gambled away a future on a wild dream which will never pan out.

Shannon Ashley is right, folks. To succeed, you have to stop falling into the comparison trap.

As she’s written on multiple occasions, the journey each of us is on is unique and specific. The thoughts you have are your own.

And yes, it’s a safe bet, a really safe bet that right now, this very minute, someone in this world is thinking the exact same thing you are, and writing about it.

A ton of us may be thinking the same thoughts, writing about the same thing, but if we pull ourselves out of the comparison trap, then we’re putting our own unique spin on what we write. We’re branding our writing with our own individual perspective.

Conversely, if we comparison-think, or comparison-write, we’ve done ourselves and our readers one hell of a disservice.


Because we didn’t share our own take on the topic, didn’t provide any value other than reiterate what someone else said. Worse, we simply regurgitate the same idea in the exact same manner as the person we were emulating.

And even worse than that (yeah, it can actually get worse), we begin to feel inferior. Incapable of writing anything because compared to these heavy hitters, our writing is so third grade we’re not good enough to stand in the same room as them.

And thinking like that cripples us, prevents us from taking the steps we know in our hearts we need to take, from writing anything at all. Because we know it will never stack up to the scrutiny as their writing does.

It’s so easy falling into the comparison trap. The brain makes it far too easy to succumb to it, and once you’re there, floundering, almost drowning in the negative atmosphere, it’s a frighteningly tough, almost impossible challenge to pull yourself out of it.

Like me this morning, you need to find your own way out of the comparison trap.

Or not.

It’s your choice, really. This constant, daily battle we have with ourselves is one of the toughest things we have to deal with as a writer. And it never gets any easier. In fact, the further down the path you go, the more tough it gets.

It’s not easy by any means, and a lot of us will fail. Bit by bit, if we continue to compare ourselves to others on this platform, we’ll wither on the writing vine and die.

This morning is going to be a tough one for me, I can already see that, but I think I need to write myself out of the comparison trap I’m in. After this article, I’m going to write another, then another.

I’m going to concentrate on writing something instead of sitting here in the comparison trap all day.

How about you?

Let’s keep in touch: paul@pgbarnett.com

© P.G. Barnett, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Written by

A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James' stories. Featured In MuckRack. Top Writer In Fiction.

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