Photography Challenge Day 16:
Black & White
I love black and white photography! You can give a basic picture a whole new life by turning it black&white and adding shadows and contrast; the mood changes and the picture suddenly looks like it’s got a story to tell.
The only problem was narrowing down the subjects that I wanted to photograph. There were all sorts of events going on in the city center, smiley people everywhere, which would make for a lovely set of photographs. Then there are amazing, ancient buildings all over Old Town with towers and turrets and secret passageways and caves carved in the stone walls that would make for an exciting set of photographs.
But eventually, due to daylight issues once again, I went for one of my favourite things to have at home: fresh flowers and closeup photos. Once again I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration, but that can sometimes be a bad idea. Comparing my amateur photos to those professional ones is unavoidable… But it doesn’t mean that my photos would be any worse. Which brings me to my point:
We live in a world that was built on comparison;
- We compare prices of airlines and hotels when we want to travel
- We compare our grades at school to determine which one of us is dead-stupid and who is smart
- We compare our experiences in a restaurant to others’ who’ve written reviews about theirs
- We compare pros and cons of either cooking ourselves or ordering in
- And, worst of all, we can’t stop comparing ourselves to people we think are better than us.
In some cases comparison is good; I like the fact that I can book a cheaper option out of 2 hotels with exactly the same services. And having the tools, that perform the comparing for you, easily available online is brilliant. But if what you are comparing has anything to do with human beings it is down-right damaging on every level.
We compare our selfie to that Insta celebrity’s über modified selfie, and feel bad EVEN though we know that the picture is not in touch with reality at all. And we compare that Pinterest picture of a perfectly pristine living room to our own Ikea-clad living room with dirty tea cups and plates on the table and couch. And again we feel bad although we know that the Pinterest picture has been set up specifically.
I used to have the worst case of comparitis when I was a teenager: I compared myself all day every day to my best friend who was perfect in every way. She was super beautiful with her thick, brown hair and brown eyes. She was also an A student and had done everything from playing the piano to kick boxing to singing. And she was ace in everything.
Oh, how I used to beat myself up about not being her. Idiotic really. The amount of energy I wasted on stressing about it, and cursing myself for qualities that I never needed to have, was tremendous.
Until finally things got so bad that even I got fed up with my jealous ponderings. And I decided ’That’s it! I’m done comparing myself to her because she is she and I am I, and she can never be me and I can never be her! And let me tell you, that light bulb moment is something that I will carry with me every day for the rest of my life.
Because it was BRILLIANT! And it was just that easy; I decided ‘that’s it’ and that was it. Sure, I needed to work on keeping the negative thoughts at bay at times when I felt insecure but at the end of the day, when you decide on something so determinedly as I did, it’s surprisingly easy to stick to that decision.
And guess what? After I decided to end comparing myself to others I immediately became a better friend: I was able to be more supportive and honestly happy for my friends when there was no comparison or jealousy lurking behind every compliment.
I’m not a psychologist or anything like that but having survived a more severe case of ‘comparitis’ I thought I’d share my personal findings on the matter with you here. So, here’s how you can stop comparing yourself to others as well:
Become Aware and Remind Yourself of the “Fake-Factor”
Before you can do anything about it you have to admit to yourself that you keep comparing yourself to others. Comparing yourself is fine, as long as it doesn’t cause you negative feelings. But the fact is, no comparing ever made anyone feel great.
That’s just the way we human beings have been built; we tend to chastise ourselves for not being enough of this and that, and with the rise of social media the problems related to such behaviour have gotten worse because we can now get “proof” of our own inadequacy.
When you notice those self-judgmental feelings starting to creep in, remind yourself of the “fake-factor”; the amount of preparations people do before taking that picture of their living room. Things like cleaning for hours, buying flowers and arranging everything perfectly for that one minute; or the amount of selfies one takes before getting that good one that they can then photoshop until the picture’s unrecognizable.
If this doesn’t work, go on Google and search ‘Instagram pictures before and after’ or ‘Blog pictures before and after’.
Make A List of Things That YOU Are Good At And Learn to Appreciate Yourself
Simple and effective IF you are able to admit to yourself that you actually are good enough just as you are. It may require a bit of soul searching but go for it, immerse yourself into the bubble of acceptance and admit to yourself the things that you actually are good at.
It can be simple things like cooking, making friends, doing your hair or your job. When you finish writing the list, read it through. You might be surprised just how many things you are great at.
Next, in order to block the negative thoughts, memorize that list or put it into your wallet and read it through every time you feel like your life sucks, and you suck, and nothing about you is good enough. Because those feelings are bullshit.
Block those thoughts immediately when they surface by focusing your thoughts to the list or something completely else; a cute guy at the next table in a café or a dog chasing a ball in the park. Anything will do as long as you just shake those useless feelings of inadequacy.
Learn and remember to appreciate yourself and I promise you, your quality of life will soar!
Turn Comparison Into an Advantage
The simple formula for turning those comparing thoughts into an advantage is to turn your thinking from “I wish I had that” to “How could I get to that?” That may sound a bit challenging but let’s start easy; first think about what it is precisely that makes you feel so bad about seeing other people’s pictures of near-perfection;
Is it the fact that your living room isn’t furnished with a 4000-euro couch and a 2000-euro table lamp?
Or is it the fact that you don’t have that same shape of chin that your favourite Insta celebrity has?
Next, ask yourself; why should your living room be furnished with an over-prized couch and how would that chin actually suit your face? Probably not that well, and yes, while it would be great to have an over-prized couch, fact is you can get a similar couch much cheaper pretty much anywhere else. But do you actually need one? Or might the couch you already have be just fine.
Chances are, the couch in the “perfect” picture is in fact from Ikea, but with certain tweaks it looks like a million dollars. Which means that YOU can also make your Ikea couch look like a million dollars! Cue inspiration and the relief of the fact that actually you’re just fine as you are because you can in fact achieve anything if you set your mind to it.
Okay, perhaps you can’t get that “perfect” chin other way than going under the knife but the easier and a much more sensible option would be to do as I did and accept yourself as you are. At the end of the day we are all unique individuals; no matter how many plastic surgeries and diets we go through, we will never be that person on Instagram because they are they and we are we. And that’s exactly as it should be!
There are aspects in your life that people wish they had, so it’s okay to yearn for things that other people have, as long as you don’t dwell on that thought. Because if you really want something, stop complaining and moping around and get to work!
Save money for that couch or delete that Insta account that causes you bad vibes about yourself time and time again. You are the only one who can decide that you’re good enough! Your friends can tell you that a million times but it won’t matter until you believe it yourself.
I’ll end this story by stating that many people could say that I should be jealous at my bestie atm; she has her own company, a wonderful husband and an amazing house with a big and fancy car in the yard while I’m living in a cold rental flat in Tallinn working in the wrong industry with shit salary.
But I don’t actually think I’m any worse off than she is. We’re 2 completely different people with different goals and situations in life. And that’s exactly as it should be. I can’t even describe how proud I am of my bestie every single day! And that pride makes me feel great rather than what comparison would do.
How do you deal with comparison issues? xx