I am a comparer. I can't think of another personality trait that would more assuredly guarantee unhappiness, but if there is one, let me know! I'll get right on the acquisition process.
I think I've always been this way. The first comparison I really remember was with Cara Copeland. Cara was about 4 years older than me, she was in the Company of our ballet school, and I wanted to freaking be her. If she won a ballet-related award, I would wonder what was wrong with me. If she got a new leotard, I would immediately begin bothering my mother about going to the Capezio store, and when she got accepted to Julliard, I figured that would be my next step, as well.
Can't accuse me of not reaching for the stars, eh?
I always accused my brother Nathan of being my parent's fan favorite. Truth be told, he was always easy-going and pleasantly off-kilter, while I was a bit of a bossy control freak, but still. Aren't parents supposed to at least pretend they like everyone the same?
Either way, every once in a while, I would try to act laid-back and relaxed while in the presence of my parents. "Oh, so you moved the trampoline to the other side of the yard? Why should I care?" I would say in my most Nathan-esqe nonchalant tone, biting my tongue in an attempt to fend off tears. It never worked, though, the feigned laissez-faire attitude, because as soon as my parents turned away from me, thinking "Hey! Maybe there's hope for her after all," I would be making plans to run away to a house with parents who understood the TRAUMA induced by making such a decision without first consulting me. "I'm leaving," I would call over my shoulder, and I would head out the door, thinking how sorry everyone would be to lose me. And behind me, steeped in sorrow over their loss, my family's collective eye-rolling could have won some kind of synchronized sarcasm contest.
Now that I'm a grown-up (ha!), I find myself still engaging in these little comparing games. "I wonder how that store did last month," I think to myself, and secretly wish doom and destruction upon their buyers. I will ponder such mysteries as "Hmmm. She seems to be getting thinner. Why am I not getting thinner?" all the while completely ignoring the possibility that the french fry and diet coke thing I have going might have something do with it.
A place in my life that this trait is really bothering me, however, is in the area of writing. I have the chance - no, I have the privilege - of knowing and of being able to read a great many excellent writers. Many of them are linked on the left. Many of them don't keep a public weblog, but are nonetheless quite impressive with their power over the written word. I don't want to compare myself to them. I don't want to think anything but good thoughts as I read what they have to say. I don't want to tarnish my (idealized) view of the writing world. And most of the time I don't.
But there are times when I let it get to me a little. When I let myself get caught up in the whole traffic/stats checking/paid writing gig brouhaha. And so far, I've caught myself and given myself a good talking to. "That doesn't matter!" I tell myself. "And it's NOT why you write, anyway." I'm right, I know. Stats and traffic and money are not why I write. I write because I enjoy it. And if anyone wants to read what I have to say, or pay me to write something for them, then I am honored. But that's not why I do it.
Unless you do.