If we haven't met yet, I'm Ivy! I'm a wedding and senior photographer based in East Tennessee. I hope you'll relax, grab a cup of coffee (or a baja blast), and enjoy seeing my latest work, as well as getting an inside look at my life!
“I’ll never be as good as her.”
“There’s no way I can compete against him.”
“My work will never look like hers.”
“Someone else will always be smarter than me.”
“I’m always going to live in someone else’s shadow.”
“I am nothing special.”
Raise your hand if you have ever thought any of these things – or anything similar. (I can guarantee you, lots of people are raising their hands right now, at least in their minds). In today’s world, it’s pretty normal to question your worth and to judge your worth based on other people. We compare ourselves to other people to define our own success. Maybe it’s in your field of work – that’s just one of the areas I’m constantly comparing myself to others in. I look at other photographers and compare my following to theirs and honestly, sometimes I get really discouraged. If I’m not careful, I find myself wondering what is so wrong with me that I don’t have as many clients as (insert photographer name here). And that’s so easy to do in any field. One of your co-workers gets a promotion, and you know that you both do the exact same job. You start to wonder what is so wrong with what you’re doing that they got a promotion and you didn’t. What is so much better about (insert co-worker name here)? And then you start to think maybe you’re just not good enough. Maybe you should just quit now and avoid being hurt later on. Hundreds of people went to the same school and graduated with the same degree as you and could do your job, so surely nothing is special about you, right? Wrong.
Maybe you compare your talents and abilities to other people. You think someone else will always be better than you at sports, music, dancing, performing, graphic design, painting, fill-in-the-blank. So many people have talents and abilities that are similar to mine. How can I possibly compete with them for a spot on the team/a part in the play/ an award/a job/fill-in-the-blank? Someone else will always be better than me, so why am I even trying? Lots of people can do what I can do, so there must be nothing special about me. But you just don’t realize how wrong that is.
Maybe it’s academics. That’s another thing that I struggle with. I always feel like I have to be the best or the smartest or get the most academic recognition. Even though I know that’s not the case, I’m constantly comparing myself, constantly pushing myself to be the best and being disappointed when I’m not. Maybe you feel like your grades aren’t good enough and if they could just be higher, you would finally be enough. You wouldn’t have to compare yourself to other people anymore. Because like me, you put your worth in your success relative to the success of others. And I’m here to tell you that not only is that wrong, it’s not healthy.
There is a type of comparison that is healthy. The kind that pushes you and motivates you to be better, but doesn’t consume you. Comparing yourself to who you used to be is good, as is comparing where you are with where you want to be and making a plan to get there. But comparing yourself to other people and concluding that you will never be as good or as special as them is not the healthy kind of comparison. Finding your worth in your ranking or your identity compared with someone else’s will probably always leave you disappointed – and that’s good, because your worth isn’t in that at all. It’s in Christ – and the fact that He created you with a purpose.
When I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life (aka high school, senior year, planning for college) my mom told me something that has stuck with me: “God created you to do something that only you can do.” There is something to which you are called, and the specific gifts and talents God has given you will help you do that thing differently than anyone else. Find it, work for it, and give God the glory when you do.
Yes, there are other people who can do the same job as you or have the same talents as you. But what’s special about you is not what you can do. What’s special about you is you. Someone else can do the same job as you, but they can’t do it with your personality. They can’t do it with your smile and your work ethic and your passion. They won’t be able to interact with the people around them the way that you do. Because God gifted you uniquely and made you so special that even though someone else can mirror your every move, they can never be you. And that’s what’s so special about you. That’s the part of you that can’t be compared. And that’s the part of you that makes people love you. It’s just you.
Don’t get me wrong, your talents and achievements and awards are special. Every success you’ve had, big or small, is special. But “special recognition” is not the most special thing about you. The most special thing about you is you. The way God made you. The way your hair frames your face, the color of your eyes, the way you light up when you smile, the tone of your voice, the way you make other people feel… that’s what’s special about you. In that sense, no one is any more special than anyone else. The special thing about all of us is that we’re different. And I’m so glad we are – if we weren’t, our relationships would be pretty boring.
I know it probably sounds so elementary and even cheesy when I put it that way, but that’s because this is a message for every age. And it really is that simple – it’s just so easy to forget. This is a theme that has shown up in my life a lot over the past few days – in conversations, in teaching arts + crafts at VBS, and just in my thoughts. So I felt like it was something God wanted me to share. I feel like so many people I love and care about (along with myself) struggle with seeing that their worth is in Christ, and that they don’t have to do anything extraordinary to be special. What’s special about them is simply who they are, and the fact that no one else can be exactly like them. Isn’t it amazing that God made us that way?
So instead of comparing yourself to other people, just be yourself and work hard at what you do. Rest in knowing that God has a purpose for you, and you’re special simply because of who you are and how God made you. The most special thing about you is not that you’re the best at whatever you do – the most special thing about you is you.