When I was growing up I played lots of sports; I played varsity soccer and softball and even to this day I thrive with competition. I like team sports; I am not a runner or swimmer or enjoy solitary exercise…I can’t stand the gym. Even though I like skiing, I way prefer to go with a group and challenge or race each other. Competition isn’t just about sports though; good grades (valedictorian?), college admissions (Harvard?), music (1st chair?), acting (lead role?), sibling rivalry, while you’re at work…even getting dates can be competitive! Competition makes me fight harder. For some people though it makes them want to give up and stop trying.
I bet when you started reading this, maybe you didn’t think of yourself as competitive. But after reading some examples and thinking about it, maybe you are more competitive than you thought. Now did you know you can also be competitive with YOURSELF? You can try to outdo yourself, do better than you did last time. And although I hate running, runners often will try to compete with themselves to beat their time or increase their endurance. You don’t need other people to be competitive.
You do however need others to be comparative. The comparison game is one of the ugliest, dirtiest, saddest, impossible-to-win games you can play. Social media in some ways is one of the best things to ever happen to connect people but it also drives comparing yourselves to others. Every time you check Facebook, you are constantly reminded of what you don’t have; which parties you aren’t attending; which friends you’re not hanging out with; the tropical vacations you wish you had….see where this is going? Long story short, if you have ever felt worse after checking social media, you have likely been a player in the comparison game.
Comparing yourself to someone else makes you jealous, something the Bible says repeatedly is a sin. By wishing for something in someone else’s life, you are essentially telling God you are not grateful for what you have, for the blessings He has given you. Maybe you don’t have a brand new car and a hot boyfriend and you feel like if you had this, you would be totally happy with life. But maybe that girl wishes she had the loving parents that you have, rather than the rich but absent and selfish parents that she has. Maybe someone else is so smart and seems like she never has to study to get good grades. But maybe she wishes she could sing and dance like you can! If you are always wishing for things you don’t have, you can’t be grateful for the things you do have. Fact.
Here is the simple definition for you to remember:
Competition makes you want to try harder. Comparison makes you want to give up.
I will be honest with you – I struggle with comparison. A lot. It is ALWAYS worse after I go online. I think my hardest comparison is with other female singers; I have come a long way but I still have a lot to go. When I first started singing, I would get so upset if I sang an easier song then someone else sang the big crazy range one and got the standing ovation. I would feel like I wasn’t any good, and question why I was doing this. This happened a lot! Do you know what either of these thoughts have done for me? Nothing. Do you know how many bookings I got when I was looking at how busy other singer’s schedules are? None. Do you know how many new songs I wrote when I was looking at someone’s Facebook likes? None. Do you know how many people I blessed with the talent God gave me while I was comparing myself to others? That’s right…none. And that is the worst disservice of all.
Here is what I learned. There are a lot of great singers out there and many, many, many are better than me. In fact, I have sung with back-up singers who are far more talented than me. I have seen massive success for people who I think are way less talented than me. But God did not create me to sing like Celine Dion. He created me to sing like Julie Elias. One of those back-up singers who was way better of a technical singer than me and even went on to compete on The Voice (and did quite well!) gave me some great advice: she said that God gave me a gift He gave no one else. He gave me a story and a testimony that no one else has, that I am able to share through music. He had a plan for my gift that no one else can do exactly the same. How COOL is that?
She also said it is my DUTY and RESPONSIBILITY to use that the best I can. 1 Timothy 4:14 says that as well: “Do NOT neglect your gift!” I need to practice and do scales to build up my vocal endurance and skill. I need to learn new songs, study scripture that will support my ministry, connect with people both personally and professionally so I have as many opportunities as possible to share the gift God gave me. It is not God’s will for me to waste time with all the success, opportunities, “likes”, attention, sales, followers, etc of those around me.
I have come a long way and I have seen the benefits of competing with my own potential and not comparing myself to others. I hope it is something I can continue to improve on so some day it is completely a non-issue. I have found you can be competitive and be content; you cannot be comparing yourself to others and be happy. You will see positive results when you are competitive; you will never improve if you are comparing. God has created you to do awesome things with YOUR story, to GROW in your talents and USE your gifts for those around you.
#journaljourney: What is your life filled with today? Comparison or competition? Do you get jealous easily? Do you find yourself always wanting more?
Scripture: James 3:16, Galatians 6:4-5, 2 Corinthians 10:12