Comparing Apples to Orange to Instagram

I don’t discuss my full time job here very often (ever? ) but I work for an appraisal company. A large part of my day is spent comparing commercial properties to one another (or comparing markets or construction quality or amenities…). All day long I make comparisons- it’s second nature now.

In valuing property, comparisons are necessary. That’s 100% the opposite when it comes to valuing our lives- comparing ourselves to one another is so dangerous and toxic. I think all bloggers tackle this problem in a post at some point, but just recently I witnessed individual friends get down on themselves after making comparisons. That led to a self-evaluation where I realized that I tend to put pressure on myself, my marriage, my relationships, and even my dogs after comparing myself/us/them to someone else.

We all do it. I have mommy friends that compare themselves to other moms (or compare their child’s development to other children). I have friends in the dating pool that compare themselves to other people who are dating or recently engaged. I have married friends that ask K and I  about our relationship and then compare us to their life. I’m sure that parents of adult-children compare their lives to other older parents (i.e. how often their kids come around, whether or not they’re grandparents, how close they are to retirement). There’s no age restriction on comparing- we all do it.


I enjoy social media, but we know those perfect snapshot moments don’t help. Engagements, pregnancy announcements, new houses- they makes us wonder if we’re where we should be in life. Tropical vacations, perfectly cooked dinners, beautifully lit trees and steaming cups of tea- we wonder how others manage to have it all and what we should be doing differently to achieve it, too.

A few days ago I talked a friend off a proverbial ledge. She’d had a great day and was feeling good, but then she looked around and started second guessing what was happening to her in comparison to others. We both came to the conclusion that these ‘harmless’ comparisons were making her dangerously unhappy. It’s ok to want what we want and it’s ok to look to others as examples, but we can’t idolize other relationships or careers or lives. First of all, we’re all different and things never work out the same way for one as they do another. Secondly, we don’t actually know how glamorous (or tragic) someone’s life is. And, regardless, it doesn’t matter- you have your life and there’s no Freaky Friday fortune cookie that going to swap it with another person.


I am happy with who I am and the life I live and the place I’m at- but I still fall victim to comparison more often than I’d like to admit. I glance across the aisle and see how someone else is doing on their wife test or employee test or friend test. I try to put myself on a grading scale. How am I doing as a daughter? friend? dog owner? Well clearly not as good as so-and-so… just look at those Instagram pictures!

It sucks. And we all do it. And we need to remind one another (gently) to stop. So here’s your reminder today.

Your house is cozy and comfy, even with the cat hair tucked in the corner of the steps. Your tree is just the right size and sparkle for you. People love you for the person you are- they’re not comparing you to anyone so why are you?

Pass the message along and remind someone else that we don’t live in a venn diagram. Pat yourself on the back and then pat someone else’s back. Go after the things you want, not the things you think you’re supposed to want. The people around you are very happy with who you are- you should be, too  🙂

You do you, boo.



43 thoughts on “Comparing Apples to Orange to Instagram

  1. StephTheBookworm December 5, 2016 / 7:54 am

    So much truth. People tend to over-glamorize their lives online which makes other people wonder why their own isn’t as perfect. Such a frustrating cycle.


    • Louise December 7, 2016 / 6:24 pm

      And deep down we all know that Facebook announcements and IG photos are the filtered, cropped, happy side of life…. but it’s easy to forget. I don’t blame people for sharing the happy moments, I just need to remind myself every now and then that we all trip, and I shouldn’t compare my downs to other folks’ ups 🙂


  2. SMD @ Life According to Steph December 5, 2016 / 9:20 am

    It is normal to look at what others are doing in comparison to what you’re doing. That’s human nature. It is not good to let that steal your joy.

    I used to think it was an age thing, but I know people much older than me who are jealous and hate themselves because of what other people have…it does not make sense to me. Now I think it’s a self love thing, and like any relationship, you need to put in work with yourself. You are worth care.


    • Louise December 7, 2016 / 6:27 pm

      I struggle with jealousy sometimes. It’s much for constructive for me to take lessons and tips away from those that travel or cook beautifully. Being jealous or self-conscious is rarely helpful, but sometimes it’s my go-to. You’re so right about not letting other people’s experiences steal the joy from our own 🙂


  3. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually December 5, 2016 / 10:10 am

    I actually had a debate with someone a while back about comparison because, like you said, obviously you shouldn’t spend all your time feeling insufficient because other people do things differently. But I also think we use comparison as a tool to figure out what’s normal. In a lot of cases, or with shallow things, like whether you read more or watch more tv, it really doesn’t matter. But it can also be helpful if you’re in a bad situation and rationalizing it to see that no, you don’t have to live with someone who’s abusive, or support emotional vampires, or stay in a relationship when you aren’t feeling it. Using myself as an example, a few years ago, I didn’t know how to argue without screaming and throwing things, because that was what i grew up with, so “comparison” with other couples helped me realize there are other methods (and self help books – mostly books really).

    So I think there’s a time and place for it and I quite honestly love comparing relationships with other people because it’s fascinating to see how different we are. Sometimes I see ideas that I like and give them a try in my own life, and sometimes I think, “Good for her, not for me.” But in the end, you have to remember why you chose what you did and decide to do what works for you, regardless of what other people are doing. And that’s the step a lot of people seem to struggle with.


    • Louise December 7, 2016 / 6:30 pm

      I think you make a really good point and I don’t disagree with you at all. I believe the danger lies in comparing your low moments with someone else’s high. (For example, you feel like a romantic failure because your boyfriend just dumped you but your roommate just got engaged.) I tend to think “Good for her, not for me” a lot… ha. Or the other way around!


  4. Rebecca Jo December 5, 2016 / 11:34 am

    I always need these reminders myself.
    I take photos of people to make their lives look beautiful… even if things are falling apart before or after a picture… & everyone sees that one picture & thinks all is well.
    Nothing is ever perfect. NOTHING.
    So hard to remember that when we see the one PICKED picture of their life & see the mess of our every day life.


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 11:52 am

      I feel like you’re a pretty grounded person 🙂 I’m sure it’s a fun experience to turn rainy/windy/hot/freezing/crazy photo shoots into gorgeous pictures! And I certainly don’t condemn the finished product. I just sometimes need the reminder to not compare my “during” to someone else’s “after.”


  5. Elyse December 5, 2016 / 11:47 am

    AMEN! I think I’m actually getting worse at comparing myself as I age. I’ve had to mute people on Facebook because I just couldn’t stop comparing myself and it was really affecting me. I’m getting better now that I’ve done that AND I’ve moved across the country but really, I should just be okay with my life and my choices, because when I look around my life is awesome.


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 11:54 am

      I turn into a mean, envious person when I lose perspective and start comparing myself to others. And I really hate that side of myself. (K isn’t a huge fan either, ha.) I try to think of a more positive description or feeling to apply to a situation when I begin to feel jealous. Like feeling happy for someone or being glad that I get my own vacations days. That tends to help 🙂


  6. Amanda December 5, 2016 / 11:54 am

    It was really good for me to be off Instagram and Twitter for a month or so, because it is really easy to get into the comparison trap, especially of how things LOOK in the square picture you share (when really things are probably going nuts just outside the frame). But it’s also nice to connect with people, so there is a balance. It’s good to have friends to talk us off the ledge every once in a while!


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 11:56 am

      There’s definitely a good balance out there somewhere 🙂 I think it’s just hard to find sometimes because we’re SO inundated with technology and social media! I took a FB break after the election and it was GREAT! (But I was also sad to miss out on pictures and big moments from my far-away-friends.)


  7. asideofchocolateblog December 5, 2016 / 12:19 pm

    I love this post! It’s so true. I find myself doing it a lot with the blog world and all the social media, but I then look at my own feed and realize that I’m showing the “highlights”. Just like you said – there’s more dog and cat hair than I want to admit and there are dishes piled up by Friday night so most likely, everyone else has that, too!


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 11:57 am

      I tend to compare myself most on the “wife” level. Like, am I doing enough? Are we spending enough time together? Are we “cute” enough? Hahaha. And to be honest, it’s so silly because we’re totally happy! So who cares?? 🙂


  8. A Mindful Migration (@MindfulMigrate) December 5, 2016 / 12:28 pm

    Love this so much, Louise! I have most definitely fallen down the rabbit hole, once or twice or a hundred times. Comparison definitely has its place but most of us do it in a way that leaves us unhappy versus invigorated. I have to remind myself constantly that virtually everyone on social media (which is virtually everyone I know) is now a curator of their life. And while I certainly respect the fact that social media is not necessarily the most appropriate medium for sharing hurts and wounds and crap, it is also makes it easy to forget that everyone deals with that stuff too. You just see perfect lives and yes, even things shared to create envy. It’s so easy to get caught up in that game. It’s awesome that you were there for a friend to help her recognize the goodness in her own life and to be reminded its worth doesn’t need to be validated or compared against others.


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:01 pm

      This is so well said, Tanya! I so appreciate your thoughts on the subject!
      I find it fascinating to compare behavior and choices and lifestyles- but I try not to value that stuff while I’m doing it. Like Jenn said, “good for them/her, not for me” 🙂


  9. simplyalexandra12 December 5, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    Oh boy, yes Ma’am! This is such a tough one, it’s so easy to get caught in this trap as a human. SO SO easy. And I totally agree that social media and blogging can sort of magnify that! I am always feeling that way about many things, but it’s so important to take a step back. The thing that I often get to is being pretty unsure of what I want from my life. Because I want so many things. So … I’m like… but I want to travel and have a house and and and. And it’s tough to “decide” on those. And from one day to the next comparison could set in for either.. and then I’m like ok… just thinking about me and KC here… what do I want?! And it’s still tough to decide lol. It’s hard to have SO many options sometimes. 🙂 Great reminder for Monday. 🙂 XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:04 pm

      YES. Sometimes the most important question is, “What do I/we want?” Babies are cute and Thailand looks fun and that Ferrari is super fancy……. but what exactly do I want in life? Do I really want or need those things? Sometimes it’s hard to stay on the path when there are so many shiny things off side roads that are only temporary “wants”!
      *I know babies aren’t “things”, lol. That came out weird. Ha.


  10. Mattie December 5, 2016 / 1:20 pm

    SO. GOOD. I unfollowed a tonnn of fashion bloggers on IG recently, mostly because I don’t want to buy as much clothing as I have been, and I find a lot of clothes I want that way, and also to unclog my IG feed (so it doesn’t take a million hours to scroll through) but it really helps with the green monster too.


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:06 pm

      I understand that. I know what I want and what makes me happy, but sometimes social media convinces me that I actually need XYZ to be happy/pretty/complete.
      It’s fun to browse and wish and dream, but when the pressure hits and it’s not fun anymore it’s good to know when to walk away!


  11. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi December 5, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    It’s so hard – especially when someone compliments you & you (or should I really say I) immediately goes “oh no, that’s nothing compared to…”


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      Yes! I’m terrible at receive compliments but even worse when it’s for something I’m not necessarily confident about (and I know there are a million other people out there better than me!).


  12. aliceschmalice December 5, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    I do this all the time, and it gets me so down! It’s especially hard when you have your own specific goals that you are working towards, but then get hung up on these comparisons. With everyone documenting their lives and endeavors immediately, it makes it seem like they have a crazy project turnover rate and apparently someone cleaning their house for them everyday. I’m sure there is a ton said on the subject, but the best pick-me-up/words of advice I’ve heard was said by Sophia Amoruso, “Don’t compare your hustle to their highlight reel.”


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:10 pm

      I’ve never seen/heard that quote but I really like it. It’s true…. few people share or post about the struggle/in between moments before the big grand reveal of a project or vacation or something. And people shouldn’t have to share those struggles- they’re certainly none of my business- but then it’s on me to remember that we’re all fighting for something and just because it worked or it’s great for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for me or that I deserve the same outcome!


  13. Julie Hood December 5, 2016 / 6:16 pm

    this is SO SO true! I have to remind myself of this/make myself not care all the time. Howeverrrrr I need to channel that “I just don’t care if my stuff isn’t as cute” into actually being grateful for what I do have. Thanks for the reminder, Audrey!!! 🙂


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:13 pm

      It’s fascinating to me how fragile our foundation is sometimes. (Mine, anyway.) I feel on top of the world and totally in control- then one picture or post or memory can throw me off balance. I think it might be a lifelong struggle in some cases, but being grateful for what we have is definitely a way to fight that self-doubt!


  14. Lindsay Latimer December 5, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    Amen. What I’ve finally realized is that no matter how “perfect” the life of someone else looks, you NEVER know what they’re going through. I remember a time when a friend of mine constantly praised her husband on Facebook… and I knew they were going through marital problems (and divorced). You’re getting the version of the truth they want to share.


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:15 pm

      Yep yep yep. So true.
      I don’t wish trouble or struggles on anyone, but I know people with those perfect Instagram pics or weekend trip to Cabo still have them. Me being envious or pitiful isn’t going to improve my situation or change theirs!


  15. Susannah December 5, 2016 / 11:40 pm

    Oh goodness, yes! It’s so hard not to compare ourselves to others but it’s so important that we don’t! That’s the only way we’ll remain content!


  16. Michael December 6, 2016 / 10:11 am

    I love this! I do my best to not compare myself to others, but it’s a natural thing. As long as it stays healthy – comparing as a way to better yourself, to be greater, do more, be more – then it’s a good thing if it pushes you.


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:17 pm

      I agree that healthy comparison is the key. Some long as we’re not comparing our low moments to someone else’s high or vise versa. I have role models and goals and aspirations, but I want to get there through positive comparison and reinforcement, not self-doubt or envy!


  17. lifeasunusuals December 6, 2016 / 3:11 pm

    Forgive me for sounding conceited, but I don’t give all that much time to thoughts like this. For me, I just have so many other things to be doing than comparing my life to others. Maybe I’m just old beyond my years, but I really do feel too old for things like that.

    Plus, it’s the internet, and everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt.


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:20 pm

      I think it’s great that this isn’t something you struggle with! The internet definitely needs to be taken with a grain of salt, haha. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that the little red X in the corner of the screen is there for a reason. Ha!


  18. everything with love December 7, 2016 / 6:33 am

    So true! I have unfollowed many people because I was getting a bit too crazy and keeping score with our lives. Something that always makes me feel more sane is reminding myself that for every person I compare myself to, there’s probably someone doing that to me to, wanting what I have. The grass is always greener right?


    • Louise December 9, 2016 / 12:22 pm

      I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever thought about it that way, but you’re absolutely right.
      I don’t condemn all comparison, just the kind that gets us down and out about our own situations. Chances are there’s a silver lining somewhere in our situation but we won’t see it if we’re constantly lusting over someone else’s cloud. Ya know?


  19. Kristen December 7, 2016 / 9:57 am

    ‘People love you for the person you are- they’re not comparing you to anyone so why are you?’ – hit the nail on the head girl. hit the nail on THE HEAD. you go.

    i used to be SO AWFUL at comparing myself and getting down on myself. i’m like 99% better now. sometimes i still wish i was a bit thinner, better cook or my home was more pinteresty.. but my home is the least pinteresty it’s ever been – as in, my home is currently someone else’s basement – but i’m happy, i’m with the people and cats i love, what more could i want?

    a quote i always mess up but always always always remember and helped me get out of the comparison trap goes something like this: you should never compare yourself to others because there is always someone better and someone worse – so you’ll either end up vain or bitter.

    seriously. it’s so true, right? i’m a better friend compared to so and so, but the other person is a million times better than me. i’m not fat like so and so (i hate saying that but you know what i mean) but i am not skinny like so and so. you can never win, so there is really no point.

    great post girl. highest of fives.


    • Louise December 11, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Thanks, Kristen! I’ve never heard any version of that quote but I really like it! It’s so true. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to one another… Even when I watch silly Christmas Hallmark movies I think to myself, ‘How does that girl have a plush corner office? How does her hair look so good when she wakes up? Why is she so flawlessly social?’

      Ummm…. Duh, Audrey! That’s a MOVIE. But still- it’s so easy to compare.


  20. Megan December 8, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    I don’t even know where to begin on how much I love this. am I happy with my life? of course. but dang I’d love that perfectly looking hipster home I see everywhere these days haha. love love love this post.


    • Louise December 11, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      Thanks, Megan! It’s so easy to compare, and sometimes all it takes to stop myself is reminding myself that my life is great and we all have highs and lows and I need to just STOP comparing 🙂


  21. Jess December 13, 2016 / 10:15 am

    I agree completely. It’s so hard not to do this! I have been frustrated with my career the past year or two, and I automatically compare myself to everyone else and the fantastic jobs they must have. One thing that always eases my mind is a TED radio hour I listened to that said it is basically impossible to succeed at everything. So – job, family, personal time, money, whatever, we can’t have it all. One thing grows, another struggles. So I just think of whether I feel successful in one way
    – like I am happy with my family and that’s what’s important right now.


    • Louise December 13, 2016 / 2:04 pm

      YES. There’s no way to be good at everything. And just because someone is amazing at something doesn’t mean you’re not great at something else! I know that some comparison is healthy, but there’s A LOT of instances when it’s not- and that’s when I need to remind myself to calm down and focus on myself!


  22. Rachel G December 20, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    This is a good reminder for all! I always have to come down to–I’d rather be me, myself, than any other human being in the world, no matter how many advantages they might have. I like myself, and I like my own husband, and my own family, and I could never trade our own unique selves for something else that might be ‘better’ on some sort of grading scale, so comparison doesn’t make sense anyways.


    • Louise December 26, 2016 / 11:01 pm

      I like that mindset, Rachel. I agree. I’m so happy with my place in life- I wouldn’t want to be anyone else!


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