I have just started reading Dani Shapiro’s new memoir, Inheritance. I preordered it the second I knew it was coming out, as I’ve long been a fan of her gentle language and accessible wisdom.
I’m only a few pages in, and I’m enjoying it immensely. But one of my little gremlins is popping up as I relish each turn of phrase.
I call her Comparisonitis. And she can be deadly.
Comparisonitis reared her head when I was out for a walk a few days ago. I love long walks, winding through the wooded trails near my house, a favorite podcast in my earbuds. Everything about this outing was perfect – the crisp winter air, the pops of blue sky through the grey clouds, the stillness of the trees. Then a younger woman jogged past me.
Younger. Prettier. More fit. Cute outfit. Jogging vs. walking.
Instantly my brain turned this lovely walk into comparison soup, and with no hesitation I jumped into beating myself up.
And the unsuspecting young woman just kept going.
This is what we do as writers when we tell ourselves that our stories or our craft will never be as good or compelling as [fill in the blank].
And we must stop.
Comparisonitis tells us that there is no room for us at the table. But that’s not true.
There is room for everyone.
There was room on the trail for me to walk and the other woman to jog.
There is room for both Dani Shapiro and for me, because our stories are uniquely our own.
There is room for you.
Take up your space. Your stories are waiting.