Compare and Despair

OK, here's the thing.
In this land of blogs, Pinterest,
Facebook updates and Instagram
it is so easy to take a peep into
other peoples glossy lives and
start comparing where you are with
where everyone else.

Now I've never been one to compare
or be competitive when it comes to my choices
in comparison with my friends for example.

I always seemed to move against the tide
and was always happy not following convention.

But something strange has been starting to happen.

I have started the dreaded "compare and despair"
(well not quite despair, but you can see where I am 
going with this).

OK let me tell you my 
dirty little secret.

You see I follow someone on Facebook
who is not even in the same industry as me
(she is in online marketing/coaching)

She is super glamorous, very young.
She has glamorous photo-shoots done in
her home on a regular basis
that are now starting to look too staged 
for me to be honest, yet I still love seeing them.
What's that all about? Why don't I just turn on the
TV and watch Real Housewives of NYC or something?

She is clearly very successful 
and I really do admire her 
drive at such a young age.

However I did one of her courses and wasn't 
that impressed with it at all and decided
that she was great at marketing her
personal brand  but maybe there 
was not so much substance under
the gloss (until Hubs said "maybe
you decided you would consciously not 
like the course so that you could prove 
your theory that she's
all gloss and nothing else")

The pen gifted to Dita Von Teese by Mont Blanc

How DARE he.

BUT was he right?
(he knows me better than
anyone ;-)

HOWEVER (now this is the scary bit)
 I am still addicted
to seeing her photos, what she's bought,
what she's wearing, where's she holidaying etc.

Now this is SO unlike me it is frightening ME!

As I look at her Facebook feed
I am starting to notice a "flaunting"about
lots of the photos she does now , and yet I can't
 resist following
(but on the other hand she could
be showing her younger target market
what they can have if they work hard.
There is that side to it too).

She seems to be idolised by many
younger business women who
follow her (as I guess that
is her target market)

How gorgeous is this work space?

However, the bigger question is why
don't I just click away and be done
with it?

But no! I then start comparing
how I was at her age. I didn't really know
where I was going or who I was and I
certainly wasn't buying Herm├ęs or
Chanel in my 20's.


I then start comparing the older me with this person 
(even more dangerous) and start to
despair that I left it too
late to acquire all my dreams
so I might as well
give up now and crawl
back under the duvet.

Those of you who have followed
me for some time know this is SO not me.
I am so driven and optimistic about
whatever life throws at me.

So what's happening?

Chanel, pearl, white

Maybe I am living my fantasy
of how I "wish" I had been through her?

Maybe it's who I want to be now
from a business perspective?

Is it dangerous never showing
the real you; your bad days, your
vulnerabilities etc? Is it totally
unrealistic, or is this glamorous
escapism what people need to be inspired
and to escape their own realities?

The danger is clearly when you start
comparing your progress with someone

Is this really dangerous territory or
just all harmless fun?

I'm really baffled, not only with
my "continuous curiosity", but how
I have no answers as to why it's happening.

Note to self

I would love to hear your thoughts



  1. Hello - I think this is so fascinating and frankly you've expressed what many of us feel (obviously not the specifics but the sentiment is there). I completely recognise this emotion and suspect the reason you are wondering what is going on is that it is a new 'modern life' emotion! By this I mean it comes from the access we have to other people's lives through the web. Whereas in the old (pre-internet) world you might have known or heard of this peer of yours, but she would never have taken up so much of your head space as you simply would not have had the opportunity to see/dwell. The internet allows the dwell! I am certainly guilty of the same feelings of comparison and have noticed too that I am influenced significantly by the people I follow online. I have a handful of what can only be described as 'girl crushes'; people who are in my internet life. Bizarre hey? I also notice that lately, following an increase in my use of Pinterest, I have found myself out in public thinking that people generally look pretty shabby! And I KNOW this is entirely to do with looking at beautiful images all the time on Pinterest that mean the wider (real) world just doesn't match up. I had to catch myself and see that this is MADNESS!!

    As for what she has managed to achieve and what you have - don't even go there! We must remember that whatever appears online is heavily and favourably edited; no one's life is perfect. I generally shy away from sharing too much on my blog when it comes to pictures of where I live, what I do as I think it allows people to form a judgement about my socio/economic/lifestyle status that may be completely inaccurate. And that kinda troubles me; sometimes you have to hold something back.

    So - what a great post! Very thought-provoking.
    Lou x

  2. Firstly Vanessa...a fabulous, thoughtful, honest post...I understand what you say it's the power of the internet; but the truth is nobody really knows what another person's life is really like unless they are living it...this lady you speak of is obviously great and creating her brand and people are buying into it...good for her...wish her every success...but you are far to brilliant to fall into the comparison trap and your post reflects that in every way. xx

    1. Awwh! thank you so much Catherine. I never saw myself as a "comparer" but always a great supporter of women. So the feelings I have been having have been a little unusual. But I am starting to see after reading you and Lou's comments that this is simply a symptom of the internet not a symptom of me ;-)

  3. Awwh! Thank you so much Lou. Lovely of you to leave such a wonderfully detailed comment. You've hit the nail right on the head my friend; everything online is so heavily edited that we start to forget reality. You don't know much your post has clarified things for me (you start to feel it is only you feeling these ridiculous thoughts). I also hear you on not sharing personal photos. I don't for the very same reasons.

  4. V- you have very intelligent readers, I read earlier but had nothing to add other than saying that at times, I have sat and cried after looking at certain instagram accounts, I keep seeing the life I don't have/will never have and it makes mine feel empty and futile sometimes.

    1. Oh Lordy Tabs! Thank God you don't live near me as we would have had our own pity party, and only you and I would be in attendance ;-) You are so right about the intelligent and sensitive responses I have had. I can't tell you how they have lifted my spirits sky high x

  5. Wonderful post! I too, have become guilty of this. Its sort of like during the great depression when Hollywood produced all those glamorous movies about over the top wealthy people. It was intended to cheer the ordinary folks up. Not sure if it did, but they are fun to watch now. I find it difficult to look away from these glossy lives as well. Comparison is the thief of joy, but it's so hard not to do.

    1. So pleased it's not only me ;-) I love your last sentence of " comparison being the thief of joy".
      Thank you so much for your lovely comments x

  6. Hello Vanessa: I just found your blog via another blog and I'm glad I did! You have indeed touched on a subject that has also been haunting my thoughts since I turned 50 (I'm now 54 since August)! I also wasn't buying Chanel or a BMW in my 20's, 30's or 40's but I did receive a Mont Blanc fountain pen on my 34th birthday from my family. While I know I could have done much more with my life, I try to focus on what I have accomplished up to now because now, I'm glad for the sacrifices, good choices and bad decisions that prepared me to fall back on something (like two college degrees) and I'm so grateful I did that while I was younger. It's making my half century and beyond much sweeter and less stressful.

    1. Dear Anon
      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I LOVE your perspective and it's how many of us really live our lives; the good, the bad and the ugly. I think sometimes milestone birthdays do tend to make us reflect on achievements. I too do the same and always wish everything nice had happened sooner and everything horrid had never happened at all. Hope you pop by again and thank you so much for commenting x

  7. Very beautiful post Vannessa. It's definitely not you. I think we all have a curiosity that needs fulfillment. The way I look at it is you're concerned about her. From what you've written, I'm concerned about her. I'm happy for her success. I hope she's truly happy. I'm nowhere near rich, but I've encountered individuals like this. Sometimes there's a sadness that lies beneath all those things. I'm not big on flaunting. She seems to be doing that, which isn't good. Because if things went awry for whatever reason, I wonder if she could handle it. I don't believe in competing either. When I see people with nice things, I admire them. Oh, I'm babbling. I hope this makes sense. I'm scared for younger people nowadays. They want so much and things so fast. I can't imagine what they'll want by the time they are older.

  8. Hi Kim Good point. My parents were always conscious of never giving us things "easily" even though they could ;-) I think it's the flaunting bit that is starting to show. But then again I wonder if she is trying to show her target market "look what you can have if you work hard". There is that element to it which I think is where she is coming from.

  9. Wow Vanessa. Great post and it's so honest, I had to read every single word because I think that's it's definitely not just you. I see some bloggers and wish I started so long ago, hehe. BTW, now I'm so curious to know who you're talking about. :) I think we all feel this at some points and the truth is she probably has someone she looks to that makes her feel not as accomplished as she'd like to be. Great job writing this! :) xoDale

    1. Ha! Dale if I tell you I will have to kill you ;-) xx

  10. Gorgeous images and heartfelt words here Vannessa. I always appreciate your depth of honesty and genuineness. I think you and I are similar in wanting to share more than just the 'glossy' image of life. Sharing hope-even in the not so pretty parts of life-is essential I think. Another thought provoking post my friend. By the way, your last post has been on my mind for a week. I included a link in the post I just published. That documentary was haunting. Thank you for spurring my need to do more research and learn more.
    Have a wonderful weekend girlfriend!
    xx, Heather

    1. Thank you so much for you lovely comments Heather; so appreciated. Pleased you watched the film; terrifying isn't it? Thank you again for your lovely comments/link over at yours xx

  11. Hi Vannessa, I am so glad you touched on this subject! Its a tricky one indeed. I am neither on FB or Twitter our any other social network simply because I am not interested in people showing off about their so-called fabulous lives all the time. I honestly think its all a hoax, its the perfect illusion they create through masterful photography and personal marketing. People show you want they want you to see on online media, not whats really going on. They are not going to post a picture of them having a bad hair day or having a terrible time at work. I find Facebook and BBM far too fake and 'produced'. Thanks for bringing up this throughout-provoking topic. Stopping by to wish you a wonderful weekend.

  12. Dear Vannessa, there will always be someone more successful, more good at marketing her/himself, more attractive, richer, name one. Who knows if the person you are talking about has someone who knows her better than herself? I think comparing our career to others' is harmful and counterproductive. I often experience lacks of confidence and frustration, especially when I get to know that a colleague nicer to our boss has a higher salary or that a blogger ten years younger than me is driven to press event chauffeured while my feet are sore from walking from the nearest metro station. But then... if I had my colleague's salary for being nicer to my pig-of-a-boss I wouldn't be as proud of myself, and if I had had a fancy blogger's life ten years ago, I wouldn't have met my shy, honest, mountain trekking husband and have what I consider the most valuable thing in my life, that is my family. You will have exactly what you set your mind to. That saying " be careful what you wish for..." I agree with it after all. Just remove her from your feeds, friend's advice. If she doesn't make you feel well, you don't need a coach like that, do you? Big hugs and positive vibes. With huge admiration, your Coco
    Coco et La vie en rose
    Coco et La vie en rose on Bloglovin
    Coco et La vie en rose on Facebook

  13. I'm very much like the "normal" you - very comfy in my own skin and talents and pursuits - but I too notice that lately I've started to slip into feeling "not enough" around certain people. One thing I observed is that it usually happens when I'm exhausted, not feeling well, or haven't taken time to be alone with myself. When I can shut down the outside world and be alone with me, those "not enough" feelings dissipate. I've been doing a lot of culling in the feeds I allow into my life and it has made a huge difference. I figure that we all have gifts and talents and stories that are good for some but not for all. So if I need to stop following someone it's simply because they aren't good for me right now, and I feel the same way about someone who can't follow me. You are enough, you are just who you need to be and where you need to be, and you'll figure out what is best for your spirit. :-) XO

  14. I think all the comments above just about cover it, I'm pretty lost for an answer anyway, I do the same thing myself, spend my life wishing I had other peoples lifestyles but I don't so tough, but I still like to look! Thanks for the ebay tip and you must get that jacket!

  15. Dear Vanessa,
    I can certainly see why you commented on my post, and I don't think it's a "dirty little secret" at all! I think it's human nature, and not uncommon in any way. The previous comments are spot on, in that no one's life/business/body/relationship is perfect, and it must be a huge burden to try and keep up a facade that isn't realistic. Your genuine, heartfelt post (and the way you live your life) is a breath of fresh air!
    My very best,
    DeeAnne x x

  16. Funny someone was talking to me about this theme a few days ago. To be honest, I have always known early on there are always those with more and plenty more with less so for me that isn't so much the rub. For me what I find so astonishing is how productive these women are. I just feel so darn lazy! They seem to either have a full on career or five kids and they still manage to look great cook keep a clean house. I don't have a proper job nor kids and yet how the heck am I exhausted!? I do feel that I am slovenly and didn't realise it until I started blogging...

  17. Hi my darling, darling friend. Sorry that's it taken me so long to get back to visiting my friends, I've been sitting at my desk buried in calendar illustration creation! First, let me just say once more (because you know I say it in practically every pose) how much I love your posts. I love that I always feel as if we're sitting at a coffee shop and discussing our deepest secrets and feelings. And not everyone makes you feel that way. You have a warm and inviting magic and I love it. And that is so much more valuable than someone that just shows how wonderful their life is every. single. minute. of. every. single. day. You have brought something up that I think affects us all. We are inundated with so many images everyday and it often seems that everyone is trying to outdo everyone else. We see so many pretty apartments and houses, everyone's pretty desk (usually scattered with confetti) and their pretty breakfasts and their pretty new manicures and I think it's natural for all of us to begin to wonder if their lives are really more glamorous and fun than ours (I think we know it's not really true, that they're showing us only what they want us to see). When people try so hard to be fabulous it makes me think that they are really probably insecure, trying to be as good as someone else that THEY are watching. I love the Pinterest quote that says "Comparison is the Thief of Joy." It's true. Anyway, I know the feeling you're describing. We keep watching someone even though inside we're thinking, "that's not real!" Almost like we're watching to see them trip up and show us a little of their non-fairytale-life (aka rea)l life. I had a neighbor once that said she didn't buy magazines because they only made her feel as if her house wasn't good enough and that she needed to buy more stuff to be happy. I think it's the same with all that we see on the internet. Okay, now I feel like I'm rambling and not really saying anything new now, but I bet everyone that read this post recognizes the feeling in themselves sometimes. And yet, what do we do? We keep watching .... ;) lol XOX love ya, V. ~S

  18. Hi sweety, Stopping by to say Hi...Hope your week is going well.

  19. Dearest Vanessa ... absolutely amazing post! not sure how I missed it earlier. In the era of virtual living just like photo shop distorts the images we see in advertising ... blogs, FB , instagram etc. often just capture the "beautiful" parts of life. It's important to remember 2 things - 1) everyone has bad hair, skin, life days 2) you can create a new life anytime ... it's never too late to live the life of your dreams. Be inspired by this woman's FB page and her photos ... then use it to create your life as you want it to be! You are an inspiration to me and I adore you ... Hugs and Blessings, C. (HHL)

  20. Great post of concern for anyone. I can totally relate to it, in phases in life I do tend to doubt which way to go. It seems the younger generation get it all much earlier. Thinking back I'm happy I got a University degree since I actually didn't know what to strive for in that age. I was totally clueless. Have had a great career, although laughing at myself finding myself clueless at 41,'s a phase. It's like at 40 you have to live it all out before it's too late. Comparing with a younger one is stressful but I would be more stressed if it was someone in my own age I guess. Have a great week Vanessa! xo Caroline

  21. I love your blog, but don't have time to read as am rushing to a very unglam work thing, in the rain grrr! However I just wanted to say, don't believe a word of it, she is probably funded by bank of mum and dad and lives her whole life through her blog/facebook, think how long it would take to plan and execute all that. Doesn't really leave time for a real job! A bit of a comparison isn't always a bad thing though, if reading that makes you do one thing to make your own life more successful, it works to your favour, carry on reading with your tongue in your cheek and scepticism and you will get the benefit of all her hard work without any soul eating jealousy!!

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