Comparison Kills

At some point in elementary school, I realized something. I was tall. Not just a little bit tall, either. I stood several inches–in some cases, a whole foot–above my classmates’ heads. Always on the back row of class pictures, always wondering why my body insisted on imitating a giraffe, it didn’t take long for me to develop a serious complex about my height.

EVERYONE teased me about it. Friends, family, neighbors, strangers. Sure, in the scheme of Things I Could Have Been Teased About, being tall? Not so bad. In fact, there are MULTITUDES of short people who would KILL for my height. And now? Oh, I LOVE IT. I wouldn’t trade my five feet and ten inches for anything. It hides excess weight gain, it helps me see at concerts, and I can reach almost anything I want at any store.

But in junior high and high school?

TRAGEDY.

The pretty girls weren’t freakishly tall. The pretty girls didn’t have legs like flamingos. The pretty girls were short, with delicate frames and clear skin.

(Did I mention I also had some pretty awful acne as a teen?)

(Icing on the cake, people.)

As I mentioned earlier, I’m over it. Lots of people are my height, I’m realizing. In fact, there are lots of tall girls at the school where I teach. Lots more than there were when I was in high school. (Are kids getting bigger, or what? What’s going on with that?)

But never fear, Readers! There’s a new insecurity in town! And its name is WRITING!

My characters aren’t as memorable as this other person’s characters.

My setting isn’t as vivid as this other book’s setting.

This person just posted on Facebook/Twitter about their sales and they are BLOWING ME OUT OF THE WATER.

I don’t have as many 4 and 5-star ratings on Goodreads as this other author.

I AM THE TALL GIRL ALL OVER AGAIN.

And this is when I have to tell myself to STOP. Stop comparing myself to everyone else, because they’re not me. They can’t write my books as well as I can because they’re not me. They can’t develop my characters like I can because they’re not me.

I have something they’ll never have.

I am me, and they are not.

And guess what?

You’ve got the same advantage. So let’s stop worrying about everyone else and write the very best book WE possibly can. Who’s with me?

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18 thoughts on “Comparison Kills

  1. Alexandra Shostak says:

    Ohhh yeah, I do the comparison thing ALL THE TIME. This fantasy world is more unique than mine, this author just got an agent/book deal for a YA fantasy, crap that means that agent/publisher will never want MINE because they already have one…etc. etc. etc.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Yep. That last one. I’m always terrified someone else is about to go on sub with a book that is almost identical to mine . . . only better.

  2. Melissa Garrett says:

    Oh yes . . . the comparison game. There are certain indie authors I keep seeing people talking about; meanwhile, I feel like the invisible girl all over again, wondering why people don’t notice me when I’m just as talented! (no one picked on me in school, but only because no one even knew I existed – sad, but true)

    *deep breath*

    Really, I hear what you’re saying. Nothing good ever comes of comparing yourself to others, but sometimes you just can’t help but do it.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      True. But I think we have to pick our head up and just keep on going. It’s so hard. So. Hard. But it has to be done, or we give up.

  3. Amanda J says:

    It’s incredibly hard not to compare yourself to other people. I do it all the time, possibly I was – and still am – the tall girl, too. I rarely wear heels because every time I do, someone has to whine about how much shorter they seem with me around. I want to scream at them to get over it.

    In regards to writing, I’m the worst at comparing myself to authors my age and younger who already have book deals or books out. I’m 22, for goodness sake, how the heck did they do it? I wrote in college and high school, had a job, a small social life, and did well in classes. I can’t fathom already having a book on the shelves, but I feel like I’m behind the game because I tried to have a well-rounded life in college.

    Oh well, everyone’s different and we all go at our own pace. My books would not be the same if they were written by someone else, and my writing wouldn’t be the same if I had tried to get published any earlier. This is who I am, and I am doing things my way. 🙂

    Great post, Anne. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, I’m 5’9″, so I know how it is lol.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      22. Good grief. I know who you’re talking about, too; I saw a lot of young ‘uns at DBF this year. I’m 28, and still working toward publication. There are lots of unpublished and published authors in their 30s, 40s, 50s… stick with it!

  4. Aimee L. Salter says:

    Hear hear! Amen! Tru dat! Word up, sista… okay, I’ll stop.

    Except for this: I agree wholeheartedly (and see you saw my blogpost today of a similar ilk – so natch!)

    Go forth and be tall, my writerly friend. You have a voice.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Yep–I was already thinking along the same lines of your post, and when I read yours, I decided to post my own thoughts on the subject. You inspired me!

  5. Jessica Love says:

    Oh man, as a fellow tall girl (6’0″ here) I can totally relate. I’m in the same boat with my writing anxiety. I’m hoping I can make peace with my writing life the way I made peace with my height.

  6. Starr Parnell says:

    Go Anne! I agree 100%! There are times that I force myself from just spending time searching other peoples’ awesome creations on etsy and wonder why mine aren’t as good – thanks for verbalizing/and encouraging on this topic!
    *Starr

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Starr, your stuff is AWESOME. If I had money, I’d buy it all. I can’t wait to do a giveaway for you!!

  7. Jodi says:

    So true, but SO HARD not to do!!! Personally, I keep comparing myself to people who’ve written ANYTHING and thinking, “I could do that! Why am I so scared to suck???” So when you solve that one, please, please, PLEASE send me an IM. 😉

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Oh honey… sucking is part of it. Seriously. My first drafts are always disaster!! And no matter how great you are at writing, there’s always someone out there who thinks you’re an idiot. Ha. Are you feeling better yet? Umm… maybe I’m not doing such a great job of encouraging you.

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