How hard can it be to stop comparing yourself to others, just for a month? Actually, really hard, especially in this age of over-sharing online.
I love social media, but I know it contributes to some major FOMO in my life. When you see the ideal abs, the beautiful breakfasts and perfectly put-together outfits, it’s hard not to compare yourself to the Instagram perfection before you. So my first point of action was to cull my Instagram feed. I unfollowed a number of accounts that made me feel inadequate rather than inspired.
Another preventative I put into place was some phone-free time each evening. Rather than scrolling inanely through my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (and don’t even get me started on Snapchat), I put my phone in another room and enjoyed time with my boyfriend and roommate instead. Similarly, I banned myself from looking at my phone just before bed and first thing in the morning. I do not need to start and end my day by checking what others have achieved in the past 24 hours.
December, the chosen month for this challenge, is also party season. To avoid the inevitable comparison of clothing, hairstyles, makeup etc, I carefully planned my outfits in advance. Some silk tops, a sparkly dress and some snazzy earrings—teamed with my favorite heeled boots and black jeans—made for outfits I felt comfortable and confident whilst wearing. Best part? I didn’t spend a fortune trying to keep up with brand-new, stylish clothes for each event. Of course, I still found myself lusting after a gorgeous velvet dress on a friend, but I could compliment her without feeling underdressed myself. (I may have also asked to borrow it for a future party!)
In my first class of the month, rather than constantly looking around to see how other people were doing and what gear they had their bike cranked up to, I focused on my own performance. I used the weights I wanted to use, rather than the ones that everyone else was opting for. I checked in regularly with my legs, my dodgy knee and my lungs, and pushed onwards. It was one of the sweatiest, most exhausting—yet enjoyable—spin classes I’d taken in ages.
Comparing your relationship status or even your relationship seems par for the course in your late 20s. When you’ve been with your boyfriend for a few years, and friends around you are starting to tie the knot, the whispers and the more intrusive questions from well-meaning friends and relatives begins. One of my best friends announced her engagement midway through the 30-day challenge, and I was genuinely thrilled. I didn’t stop to think about my own relationship and instead focussed fully on celebrating with the happy couple!
As a blogger, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game, looking at how many followers, readers and comments another blogger has compared to you, or the brand partnerships they might be working on. Using this month to refocus on my website and social channels helped me realise my own goals, and establish what I want to achieve in 2016. I waste so much time feeling envious reading other people’s blogs and looking at their social feeds, and that’s time I could (and should) be spending on my own site. Although this didn’t translate in reality this month, it’s something I hope to take with me moving forward.
An interesting side effect from this challenge was that I started comparing myself to myself. I thought how much strength and tone I’ve lost since the summer (and how much I want to build it now!), or how much better my hair looks now than last year. But instead of thinking of all the things I haven’t achieved, I kept reminding myself of the awesome things I have accomplished over the year, like cycling to Paris, running my fifth marathon and going back to college for something I’m passionate about.
Here’s to a happier, more fulfilled 2016—no matter what anyone else is doing!