Brené’s Baubles 50 for 50 #19

This is a quote from Brené Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection on top of a picture of my art.

Comparison, like over-thinking, is a habit that has plagued me most of my life. Early on, if you had asked me to contemplate its effects, I would have said something along the lines of how necessary comparison is to success. We can’t know how far we’ve come or how far we have left to go if we’re not comparing ourselves to other people and their achievements. 

Over the years, I’ve compared myself to friends, family, and strangers in almost every way one can: looks, possessions, attitude, health, wealth, skill. You name it. It’s easy to see what an exhausting endeavor constant measurement taking could be. And how soul-sucking. But back then (by which I mean up until a few years ago), I didn’t see it. I couldn’t. I was too wrapped up in striving, hooked into the false belief that highlighting my perceived frailties, weaknesses, and imperfections was the best way to overcome them. 

Then, during my daughter’s health crisis, I was forced to come face to face with myself and didn’t like what I found. I set out on a quest to learn how to be more authentic, to learn how to love the person I was beneath the rhetoric.

Reading Gifts countered almost everything I thought I understood about what this life expected of me. The book is subtitled, Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Whoa. That’s what I wanted. Brown outlined 10 guideposts that teach us how to lead more authentic lives. Guidepost #6 is about the role cultivating creativity plays in letting go of the detriment of comparisons. “The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world is born of our creativity.” It is to this section of the book that I return again and again.

I started art journaling as a direct result of this teaching. Putting paint and glue and glitter to paper opens my heart. This meme reminds me that instead of wasting precious time judging myself, I need to play. I need to lighten up, take myself less seriously. In this way, my writing life also improves. Art is an action that connects my head to my heart to my hands to my keyboard. And, I hope, one that connects me to you. 


  1. Thank you, Tracey. This is a very timely reminder for me. I forget the joy that comes from playing with art supplies, and I definitely need to revisit it soon!!!

  2. I love the quote by Brene you put on your beautiful picture. I read it a few times to let it sink in. How true it is! Comparing is exhausting, and then we're not living our OWN best life. Thanks for this reminder Tracey! xx

  3. I sure do agree with you, Tracey, that comparing one's self to others is sole-sucking. I used to care more about how I measured up to others' standards (which were mostly contrived in my own head, ridiculously enough!). As I look back, I can see that wanting others to like me took on greater importance than wanting to like myself. I was looking for assurance from the outside world, instead of within myself, that I was good enough.

    When I was able to let go of worrying how I measured up to others, I found the space to decide who I wanted to be. For me. I feel I am a better person than before this shift happened. Not better than others! Better for me! And I do believe that taking better care of myself means I have more energy and resources to help out friends & family. And more energy for fun & creativity.

  4. Thanks Kelly..yes. It's so easy to forget how much fun it is to play and let loose like no one is watching. Art gives such a sense of creative freedom. I love that part. Have fun! I know it can feel like a waste of precious time…our most valuable resource, but how far that time goes to increasing life's satisfaction is so so worth it!

  5. Thanks Jeni…creativity certainly doesn't have to come in the form of paint, glue and glitter. Any creative endeavor fits the bill…I'd love to know what yours is…gardening? cooking? sewing?

  6. Per usual Sue you make an excellent point about how the standards we're comparing ourselves to are also mostly contrived in our own heads. It is ridiculous! I wish it wasn't true that we want so desperately when we're young (and even later) for others to like us. Oh the price we pay over those years when we're willing to compromise to chase that elusive acceptance. I wish I knew how to short-circuit that path. I wanted to so badly for Olivia. Maybe she'll be able to do a better job with her child/ren than I did with her in that regard. And absolutely re: having more energy for others by taking good care of ourselves. I've seen that coming true for me as well. Such a great lesson because on the surface it may seem counter-intuitive but it sure isn't. Thank you!

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