Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why You SHOULD Compare Yourself to Others

I was browsing around on my personal Facebook page when I asked a question on a fellow bloggers site. She had mentioned that their schedule was more rigorous this year than in previous years. Having been interested in what constitutes a "rigorous" school year for a few months now I asked her what she thought made it rigorous because I was curious to see if our schedule would be what she considered rigorous. My mistake was that I used the dreaded "c word"

I cannot even begin to count the number of blogs I have read telling me not to compare myself with other homeschool moms. But I am going to take this in the opposite direction. Follow me for a moment. What if there is nothing wrong with a little comparison? What if in fact it is even healthy to do this?

Let me do the ever popular blog list thing for you on why I think some comparing can be healthy:

1. It may help us to identify gaps that we didn't realize we had. I planned our school year down to the letter. I purchased the curriculum, put it in my planner and was very happy with what I had done. Then I went to read what others were doing. It all looked great! Except for one thing, I had completely forgotten to choose a handwriting program! It wasn't that I hadn't planned on doing it and reading someone elses choices made me think I had to. It was that I had planned on it and completely forgotten! I probably would have noticed it later on down the line but it sure was nice to catch it early on!

2. It may help us realize that we are over doing it. I know sometimes in my desire not to have the above mentioned "gaps" that I every now and then over do it. It is sometimes helpful to go read and compare what I am doing to what others are doing so that I can see when maybe I am doing just a tad too much.

3. It may introduce us to new products that we otherwise might have missed. I regularly compare our curriculum choices to others and I am so glad I do! I was recently introduced to Mystery of History through a friend. I had never heard of it before then and now it is one of my favorite curriculums!

4. I may help us see where we have strengths and weaknesses. I am going to admit it. I am lazy. I know, you look at my blog or my Facebook and you think, WHAT?! (at least I hope so haha!), but the truth is I struggle to maintain momentum sometimes and comparing myself to others helps me know when I am dropping the ball. You know how you tend to do better when you know you are being graded or when you see someone else doing better than you? Call it a little healthy one-sided competition. On the flip-side, I have compared myself to find out that I am just fine and that I need to stop panicking about things that really do not matter or that I have actually gotten right. I certainly don't go tell those people that I am "competing" with them, but I do find that doing a bit of comparison is encouraging to me.

Recently a few friends and I got together and started lamenting about our homes and the housework we hadn't been getting done. I am sitting in a clean house right now. Want to know why? Because we have been sending photos to each other comparing our homes. By seeing what my friends were able to do it let me know that I was hanging on to excuses about why I couldn't have a clean house and homeschool at the same time. I now know that I can get it done because they are. I am out of excuses.

You can compare without changing what you are doing or who you are, and there are definitely times when you should not compare yourself to others. If you find you are easily persuaded to change things simply based on what others are doing or if they go against your conscience for example. There are times when life changes your circumstances and things like this have to be taken into account of course. I would never suggest that you compare and change your convictions, curricula or character based on what others are doing, but I do think there can be a healthy side to comparison that is regularly over looked in the "Be Yourself" mantra.

So what are your thoughts? Is it ever a good thing to compare what you are doing to what others are doing?

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Amy said...

I completely agree. A little comparison can go a long way to bettering yourself or something you are doing.

Pam said...

Some very well said (and dead-on) thoughts, Anna! We get a little too worried, in our current social climate, about not comparing ourselves to others -- and can forget that an objective standard (or even a compilation of many other subjective standards) can sometimes be a very good ruler!

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