Episode 29: I'm the Mack and I'm Bad
In today’s episode, I’m gonna tell you why comparison sucks and what to do when you find yourself in the comparison trap.
The first time I got bit by the comparison bug was during my time at Rice University. I was surrounded by all of these friggin’ smart people who knew how to play the game. They seemed so at ease in their business suits and when you asked them what they wanted to do, not only did they have an answer, they had mad confidence when talking about it. Meanwhile, the whole reason I went to business school was to figure out where I wanted to go next (that and to dispel the self-limiting belief that I wasn’t good at numbers -- two birds, one stone).
It was such a foreign feeling to me -- taking out the measuring stick and comparing my education, experience and skills to other people. Mama Terry did a fantastic job of teaching me that God had given me my own race to run and that there was no one like me in the entire world. When I was little, she’d say, “Mija, if God wanted us all to be the same, the world would be super boring.” That just made sense to me in my little mind and really took the pressure off of me when it came to being myself. I didn’t have to be the best -- I just needed to be the best me I could be. Shout out Mama Terry. I love my mama.
When I started the program at Rice, I was already super self-conscious because I was unsure about what I wanted to do AND I knew that I was gonna have to really buckle down and put in the work when it came to Finance and Accounting. I felt like I was seriously lacking and I was super uncomfortable.
Oh and can we talk about business wear? OMG how do people do it? I tip my hat to ya’ll because ya’ll get ish done in your fancy nancy get-ups and ya girl just couldn’t deal. That first week, I tried, ya’ll. I really tried. I’m certain it was painful to see me. It was like that movie Love and Basketball when Sanaa Lathan’s character gets the job at the bank and she’s all dressed up and it’s just awkward, the whole thing.
I started to compare myself -- how did I do on the test compared to so and so? How many summer internship interviews did I have compared to so and so? Job offers? GPA? Did they look happier than me? Were they actually happier than me? Should I want what they want? Did they know something I didn’t? Should I go into Consulting, too?
That ish sucked big time and for the first time in my life I completely understood how it feels to be stuck in the comparison trap and how hard it is to shut that ish off. It’s friggin’ hard and people do it all the time. I can remember the conversations amongst my classmates, “Well, you know so and so just had a super day at Credit Suisse and Ms. Thang got an internship offer from McKinsey. And what’s his face got a job offer from Citi Investment Banking.” It was never ending and a sandbox I did not want to play in.
So believe me when I say I totally get it.
We human beings are social creatures and we have a profound need to be a part of something. We have an innate curiosity to see how we measure up to other people and we’re always looking for a quick fix for something (which means that we’re gonna look around and see what others are doing in hopes of finding some easier way to get where we want to go).
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it can go south real quick if our observations turn into an obsessive negative soliloquy (how many times a day do you hear the word soliloquy, I wonder) of comparison, where we bash ourselves for not measuring up, for making the decisions that we’ve made along the way, where we regret the path that brought us here to day and wish that things were somehow different.
Here are three reasons why comparison is no bueno and robs you of peace in this present moment:
1. You do a complete disservice to God’s beautiful creation.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Let’s say that together. Out loud. Say it with me right now.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
This has special meaning to me because this time two years ago, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my daughter. I was going to the doctor pretty much every week, hearing her heartbeat, and carefully monitoring my bump.
Every Wednesday, I’d text my mom a picture of me with updates like, “Baby L is the size of an eggplant. This week, these organs are developing. She can now do x,y,z.”
It is the most precious process that I’ve ever been apart of.
I want to say something real quick -- if your mama didn’t do this, if your daddy wasn’t a part of your life, that does not take away from the power of my point. God did this. The angels in heaven did this. The entire universe watched you grow and develop and cheered you on from the front row.
Your parents may not have wanted you, but God wanted you.
How do I know? Because you are here. Living in spite of it all.
It makes my heart hurt to think of you as a little baby and you not being treated like the treasure that you are. I really mean that. I want you to know that your past does not negate the truth of how much you are loved and it definitely does not determine your future, unless you let it. I know that’s a message for somebody out there and I am holding that space for you right now.
Okay, let’s get back on track because ya’ll know I can go off on tremendo tangent and I promise I have a point with this episode today.
Honey Bunny, I want you to know that when God knit you together in your mother’s womb, he used zero comparisons.
He didn’t say, “Hmmm, how should I design Honey Bunny compared to her sister, her best friend, her co-worker?” Not at all. He broke the mold with you. Never before and never again will there ever be someone like you.
What you call imperfections are God’s stamp of approval on you.
I can imagine him saying, “Let’s put this little dimple right here so that when she smiles in the right lighting and the light twinkles in her eyes that dimple is the cherry on top and makes even the hardest of hearts melt.”
He made you quirky, unmatched and breathtaking, just as you are. How do I know? Because you are literally one of a kind, even if you’re an identical twin.
I love music and you may have noticed that I tend to think of a lot of things in terms of music, lyrics and artists.
Here’s my take on comparison: it’s silly to compare Beyoncé to Selena to Whitney to Adele to Reba McEntire. I love all of them and they are all so very different. When I’m working, I have to switch up the music I’m listening to every once in awhile because I can’t do Beyoncé 100% of the time or Marc Anthony 100% of the time.
I need all of their music in my life.
That being said, I want to address something that I see a lot and that I have experienced myself. The “There’s already so many people in the world doing this, so I shouldn’t be doing this.” I feel this often especially when I’m recording.
There are literally millions of podcasts, so who am I to put another one there?
Ask any podcast connoisseur and they’ll tell you that every podcast is different, even if we’re all jamming on the same topic.
You can give the same song to Beyoncé, Adele, Carrie Underwood and Natti Natasha -- same song, same lyrics, same producer, same musical arrangement and I guarantee you it’s gonna be a completely different experience depending on whose version you’re listening to. You may find that you dig the Beyoncé version and loathe the Carrie version or vice-versa. And guess what someone’s not going to dig the Beyoncé version *insert gasp here* and they’re really gonna dig the Natti version.
Each of them is going to reach an entirely different demographic and the whole world will be blessed because of it.
That’s what I remind myself every time I write, record, do a session, etc. That the message of self-love is getting out there through me and a whole bunch of other lightworkers and it’s gonna resonate with different people. I may be your cup of tea, but your sister can’t stand me. I am completely okay with that. I’m here to serve the people that rock with me and I pray that others will come forward and serve the people who don’t so that they are still blessed.
It’s a waste of time for me to get bummed out by everything I’m not. The old Kanye West said it best, “Everything I’m not made me everything I am.”
2. You erroneously view life as a zero sum game.
I learned the term zero sum game in business school and, believe it or not, it’s a major concept in the world of self-help and personal development.
Let me put on my professor hat right quick and break down what a zero sum game is:
The translation: a zero sum game is where you got one winner and one loser (or two million winners and two million losers). There is one cookie and if he got it, you are doing without. In reality, he could totally break the cookie in half to share with you but that’s outside the scope of this episode.
When you compare yourself and start feeling bad, you’re subconsciously looking at whatever it is as a zero sum game. Meaning that since she got the blessing, there are no more blessings to go around.
Falso. Falso. Falso. Malo. Malo. Malo. No bueno.
Girl, stop trying to limit God’s blessings.
God is the unlimited source of all. Say that with me, “God is the unlimited source of all.”
Just because ole girl got her blessing does NOT mean that you’re gonna get to the front of the line and be told, “Sorry, there’s no more BBQ. Try again tomorrow,” like they do at Killen’s BBQ in Houston, Texas. Or at least that’s what they did when I went to eat there many moons ago. There was a line around the door ya’ll of people waiting to eat this BBQ. You wanted to get there early because when they ran out, you were stuck like Chuck.
God’s blessing is not like Killen’s BBQ (although both are über delicious).
The Universe does not run out of goodness to pour into your life.
I hate it when the media tries to pit artists against each other. They tend to do this a lot in hip hop, especially when it comes to female rappers. Back in the 90s it was Lil Kim versus Foxy Brown and now it’s Cardi B versus Nicki Minaj. I’m not here to debate who’s better (you may not like any of these rappers or hip hop in general and that’s okay). My point is that we are subconsciously buying into the BS that there is only room for one hot female rapper and that simply ain’t true.
The same goes with God’s love for us. God loves each of us and all of us.
My cousin has two kids and I see this all the time when their birthdays roll around. The birthday boy is standing in front of the cake waiting for all of us to sing happy birthday and the other one is in the back room crying his eyes out because it’s not his birthday. He didn’t get any presents and why is his bubba getting all the attention.
Then when the roles are reversed, it’s the same thing. Happens every July and November.
I’ve seen my family members reasons with the distraught kid like, “Hey, your birthday is gonna come up and it’s gonna be all about you. Just because your brother’s getting his gifts now does not mean that you’re not ever gonna get any gifts when your birthday rolls around.”
We all get that, right? But then why do we do this when we go into that comparison trap?
Insert Prince side eye face here.
3. You don’t know the full story.
Real talk: you only know your full story.
Everything else is pretty much distorted by your limited understanding. What makes it even more complicated is the fact that 99.99% of the time people only show the highlight reel. You don’t get the behind the scene footage. You compare yourself, get yourself all down in the mental dumps and what you don’t know is that the grass is greener on the other side because it’s artificial and not the real thing.
I’m gon’ let that marinate for a bit.
You beat yourself up for not being a better mother because you’re looking at all the mommy influencers who have these pristine pics of themselves with their babies in immaculate clothes and you can’t seem to get your daughter to look at the camera and keep her shirt clean.
Or is that just me?
What you don’t see is the loneliness and overwhelm that mom feels because her husband is always working and overcompensates for his absence with nannies, housekeepers and a dope wardrobe.
You see that your friend is making bank at his job and you think that you should be, too. What you don’t know is that he works 7 days a week sun-up to sun down, has no life and no time to spend all that bank. He’s lonely and he compares himself to you because he admires the beautiful family life you’ve created.
Remember that when you find yourself going down that rabbit hole of comparison.
The other day I was watching the interview that Marie Forleo did with Liz Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic. She and Marie talk about the concept of the shit sandwich, which she learned from Mark Manson.
Mark basically says, “Everything sucks some of the time. Finding your true purpose is really deciding which flavor of shit sandwich you are willing to put up with.”
In Love on Top, Beyoncé sings, “Nothing’s perfect but it’s worth it,” and that’s the truth. We tend to romanticize everything, especially when it comes to other people. I hope you’ll remember that when you find yourself comparing your path to others.
If you do a real comparison, you may just find that you’ll take your shit sandwiches any day of the week.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Well, great, LaTisha. I was feeling bad during the act of comparing myself to others and now I feel worse for comparing in the first place. You got me in my feelings.”
Alas, thou shalt not worry for too long, boo.
It’s time to use the superpower that is your self-awareness to shine the light on your thoughts and behaviors. When you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of comparison, I want you to hear my voice in your head saying, “Basta ya.” You can even say it out loud if the spirit moves you. Basta ya is Spanish for “Enough is enough. That’s enough.” When I say it, I mean business like you better cut that ish out because I’m done playing games with you.
You say, “Basta ya” and then you do one (or all) of the following that I’m about to share with you:
1. Say, “Thank you.”
When you find yourself slipping into the comparison trap and it’s making you feel some kind of way, stop and say, “Thank you,” to that person, situation, or thing that you’re comparing yourself to. They’re showing you what’s possible for your life.
When I was in high school, Jennifer Lopez was becoming this huge star. She was beautiful, charismatic, hard working and every man’s dream. #goals
However, in my immaturity, I was bothered by her success. It made me feel some type of way. I realize now that I was looking at her beauty and success as if somehow they took away from my own.
As we just went over, God’s blessings are not a zero sum game. There’s no quota or cap that stops God from pouring out his goodness over all of us.
I learned to say, “Thank you,” instead. She showed me what’s possible for me when I follow my heart, work hard and have faith.
Here’s the deal: I don’t want to be a singer/dancer/actor. At this point in my life, not at all. So instead of comparing myself to her (which is silly because she’s doing stuff that I don’t want to do), I say, “Thank you,” and I bring my focus back to the beautiful unfolding of my own life.
If you and your friend are both entrepreneurs and her business has taken off faster than yours, say, “Thank you for showing me what’s possible for me. You go girl.” You both may be talented chefs, but you have no desire to be the next Rachael Ray like she does. Maybe your dream unfolds with you maintaining a low profile and releasing blockbuster cookbooks.
When you do this, you take the pressure of having to have everything go down the way it has for your co-worker, your boyfriend or your sister.
You allow God to take the dream you have and put the Universe’s delicious spin on the desires of your heart.
Which brings me to #2.
2. Say, “This or better.”
Once you realize that the person you’re comparing yourself to is showing you what’s possible, you can then invoke the mantra, “This or better.” I love this little mantra/prayer. I learned it from Cara Alwill Leyba of The Champagne Diet.
Many of you know that I prayed for my daughter, Lyric, for 3.5 years before she was born.
It was a really hard time for me because I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have a child and I really wanted one. I love kids and I love being around them because there’s no judgment. They don’t care what I do for a living and they just wanna have fun. I’d see my cousins who have kids, my friends who have kids and I’d think, “Wow, look at how amazing these kids are. I’d love to have kids like them. They’re great.”
Let me tell ya’ll: God knocked it out of the park with Lyric.
She takes my breath away. She is funny, kind, observant and she is sooooo much smarter than me. Proud mom moment: she’s not even two yet and she can identify 95% of the alphabet. She’s also fierce. She ain’t no punk, ya’ll.
I think back to before she was born and there is NO wayyy that I could ever even come close to imagining how incredible she is.
My human mind could NOT imagine it, even though I was already surrounded by all of these beautiful little babies. I can remember being pregnant and wondering what she’d look like, what her personality would be like, what our relationship would be like.
I see her now and even the most vivid imaginings of my mind pale in comparison to the glory that she is.
My point is that I’ve learned to say, “This or better,” knowing that God, in his infinite goodness and loving grace that he has for me, will answer me and his answer will supersede even the greatest plans I could ever make for myself. The blessing that God has for you makes your best case scenario seem like a very rough draft.
It’s like that part in the Sex and the City movie where Carrie says, “And just like that, Vivienne Westwood kicked my sweet little suit's ass.”
3. Turn inward.
When you find yourself in the comparison trap, you really are being presented a humongous gift of an opportunity. Don’t waste it, either.
Ask yourself, “What is it in me that is reacting so hard to what they’re doing? How can I nourish me?”
Let’s say for example you’re constantly comparing yourself to your fun-loving sister who never seems to take anything seriously and is always heading out on vacation. It makes you feel like you’re wasting your time slaving away at your desk job while she is having a yummy chocolate croissant at a Paris cafe overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
You may even feel resentment because while she’s off trotting the globe, you’re stuck at home caring for ya’lls sick mom.
Go deeper. What’s underneath that?
Maybe the reason you are comparing yourself and the reason it bothers you is because, deep down inside, you know that you’re not taking care of yourself. You have not used one hour of your PTO this year and you haven’t had a mani/pedi in God knows how long it’s been.
Your inner voice is saying, “Basta ya. You need to take care of yourself, too. Your sister is showing you the way.”
Maybe you don’t drop everything and head to Tulum like you’ve always imagined (but again if the spirit moves you). Maybe you take a day off and do so much needed glam ME TIME (hair cut, color and style followed by a mani/pedi and lunch at your favorite spot).
Stay with what’s coming up for you when you’re in the comparison trap because it’s showing you a part of yourself that needs your loving kindness and your attention. You’ll often find that it has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with you.
HB, you gotta guard your mind against comparison.
Don’t let it rob you of your peace in this present moment.
God made a limited edition one of a kind once in a lifetime never to be seen again miracle when he made you.
Don’t you dare dim the light of your magic by getting intimidated by someone else’s. Imagine if every flower in the world got caught up in comparison and stopped blooming because of the flower next to them. The world would be robbed of exquisite beauty.
Don’t get so caught up in what others are doing that you second guess your steps and stop walking the beautiful path that God has set before you.
Even if you’re not sure what’s next for you or what your life purpose is, even this chapter of your life serves a purpose.
You are standing before a blank canvas deciding what it is that you want to paint at this point in your life. There is nothing more exciting than that.
Give yourself the time, space and permission to explore instead of looking over at what the person next to you is painting. You focus on your painting and use that palette, boo.
If you make a mistake, so what?
After all, art is just an amalgamation of beautiful mistakes, pivots, experiments and personal truths.
Now it’s your turn. Comment below and let me know about your struggles with comparison.
I’m cheering for you. Like some of them try to rhyme, but they can’t rhyme like this.