Coping with Comparison

Boy, I will do anything for a bit of alliteration.

But alliteration aside (see what I did there?), today I am coming to you with some thoughts about comparison. I’m sure most of us have subjected ourselves to this at one point or another in our lives: looking at ourselves, or at something we’ve done, and undermining it because someone else is further or seemingly better off.

In my first year of university, I lived about ten minutes away from central campus. The path I took every day led me through a scening route, but it could also be secluded. Aside from listening to music and admiring nature, I was pretty much left to my thoughts.

IMG_0689The view on my walk, every day for a year. Not bad!

Sometimes on my walk, there would be people in front of me. Not that I competed with them, but thinking about how far they were never really helped me in any way. Still, if I was particularly tired or half-asleep after a night of sleep deprivation, I found myself wishing I was where they were.

Other times I felt completely alone and wondered why I was the only one on that path. I looked around only to realise that there were others behind me.

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Thoughts on Stardom and Snakes

Last month, I walked to the bus stop listening to Taylor Swift telling me to shake it off. And, mildly surprised, I found myself feeling guilty about it.

Recently, the name Taylor Swift has brought to mind much more than boyfriends and teardrops on guitars. If you’re not up-to-date on the ongoing drama between her and Kanye West, just a quick Google search will put enough articles at your disposal, articles looking at different points of view, evaluating issues from race supremacy to the exact number of fallings out Swift has experienced (and the outfits she was wearing when she did). Some writers seem to have taken a relish in providing a timeline of events for  the Swift-West feud, whilst others gleefully demand whose side you’re on.

Taylor or Kanye, right or… not right, people certainly have divided over this. Sometimes it’s over the core problem (e.g. Taylor Swift allegedly lying, or Kanye West recording their phone call). Other times, people derive further issues (e.g. both Swift’s and West’s personas, or whether Swift is easily forgiven because of her skin colour). It’s not exactly surprising that details of their affairs would reach the general public and be discussed in detail. Even less surprising is that people would be quick to proclaim their own opinions on the matter. Even in my mostly indifferent state, I have an opinion.

giphy-2Everyone on the internet after a celebrity messes up (© Disney | via Giphy)

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Some months ago, I saw a film called Awakenings. It revolves around survivors of the 1920’s epidemic of Encephalitis Lethargica, a disease which leaves victims speechless and motionless, and a neurologist’s attempts to reawaken them using a new drug. The neurologist watches the patients come alive through this treatment, but as the drug’s effects wear off, the patients struggle with spasms and eventually start to slip back into states of catatonia.

Some time after watching the movie, I sat with my pen in hand. I didn’t write at first, but I knew I could. I just sat there feeling that ability for a moment. That ability to sit down, pick up the pen and pull the paper towards me. My left hand lay on the surface of the paper like an alligator sunning itself. In my right hand, the pen, supported by my forefinger, thumb and middle finger. My wrist curled, and I wrote.

Sometimes, I paused to read over the words. I didn’t feel much about them. There was some fear that they would never amount to anything. Some relief knowing that there would be other words. And a wonder that the pen, the ink, the paper – the heart, the blood, the veins – followed my every command.

Every movement is deliberate. Every movement is a privilege.


The photograph features parts of Robert Frost’s poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.’