Living My Best Life (Going behind the filters and revealing what it’s really like to have a book published!) by Claire Frost
Part 3 – Compare and despair (why measuring yourself against other people’s success is a recipe for failure)
Recently, I’ve been suffering from a bad case of comparisonitis. While it might sound like I need to take an urgent trip to the doctor’s surgery, what I really need is a big, fat dose of reality (and, no, I don’t mean the Love Island kind of “reality”, whatever I might tell myself every night at 9pm!).
Of course, it’s a natural human trait to compare yourself to the people around you – friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, people you’ve met once but then friend-requested on Facebook, people you’ve never met IRL but you follow on Instagram and know every detail about thanks to their perfect, glittery posts about their perfect, glittery life. And sometimes, a bit of “Ooh, look what she’s doing, maybe I could do that too,” is the kick up the bum you need to tear yourself away from Tommy, Lucie and Molly-Mae and become the kick-ass woman (or man, obv) you know you want to be. But sometimes (read: often) it can have the opposite effect.
The publishing world loves to celebrate big announcements, whether that be a huge book deal for a debut author or record sales figures for one of the industry’s stars, and I am always genuinely excited for the writers and publishers in question – especially when it’s someone I am lucky enough to be friends with, in which case I’ll be singing their good news from the social media rooftops as loudly as possible and downing prosecco in their honour before you can say “cheers!”. But however hard I try, there is always a whisper in my brain saying: “Why isn’t my life as amazing as theirs?”
So it’s no coincidence that constantly comparing yourself to others is one of the key themes in my debut novel Living my Best Li(f)e. Editing and filtering, whether on social media or simply when you’re telling your workmates what you did at the weekend, is part of our lives, but it’s how much you allow it to intrude that really matters (as my characters may find out…).
One thing that has really helped treat my comparisonitis is remembering that headline-grabbing good news is worth celebrating because not every day is a prosecco-clinking day for any writer. In fact, the lovely Miranda Dickinson (who I’m honoured to say I share a paperback publication day with – MASSIVE WHOOP and a huge shoutout for her new book The Day We Meet Again!) posted a very wise message just a few weeks ago that I couldn’t have Liked harder:
I firmly believe that there is space in this world for us all to achieve what we want if only we – as Miranda says – just keep going. A few months ago I blogged about how I’ve always dreamed of writing a book and seeing it on the shelves and in readers’ hands, and in just a few weeks this dream will come true when Living My Best Li(f)e is published. And, no, it might not sell quite as many copies as some of the books it sits next to on the shelves (although fingers crossed it does sell some copies so my mum doesn’t have to start embarrassingly buying arm-loads of them to boost the figures!), but maybe that’s OK. Maybe it is OK that in comparison to JK Rowling, David Walliams and Lee Child my book is just a tiny drop in the ocean. Maybe it is OK that compared to those six-figure deals we all see on social media, my debut is small fry. Because in the last 18 months I’ve actually done it. I’ve actually put fingers to keyboard and WRITTEN A BOOK! I’ve slayed in my lane, I’ve leant in, and I am so proud of myself.
Now, instead of allowing comparisonitis to get under my skin, I’ve decided the only person I’m going to compare myself to is me 18 months ago. Yep, the me who hadn’t given herself permission to do this, the me who hadn’t given herself permission to not just dare to dream, but to make that dream come true. And, frankly, there’s just no comparison.