I recently read a quote that resonated with me: “Don’t compare your behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
That stuck with me, and made me really think about the nature of comparison and how it correlates with self-worth. Social media is here to stay — if anything, its presence in our lives is growing at a frighteningly exponential rate.
It’s easy to put on a face. Upload a few photos of your smiling face to your Facebook and insert a few “humble brags” about your latest show or ride and you’ve easily created a picture of yourself that others may aspire to be. And that’s fine! That is what your Facebook is for — to remember things, the good, bad and the ugly.
But on the flip side, it’s very easy to get sucked into someone else’s world by comparing your life and your accomplishments to theirs. You see someone who is 10 years younger than you competing at Rolex. Someone just bought their second or third horse when you’re still saving for your first. These things happen, so how do you stop yourself from falling into that pit of comparison envy?
Think about what you do when no one is watching. What does your “behind the scenes” footage look like? Surely it’s not all glitz and glamour — if it is, please tell me your secret!
Let’s say you have a goal. That goal is to compete in an FEI event with your horse that you’ve produced yourself. Sure, it’s easy to look around your Facebook or Instagram and see people who already there. They make it look easy! Maybe you aren’t cut out for this, since you’re barely cantering cross rails right now. Before you know it, you’re down in the dumps and you aren’t entirely sure how you go to that point.
Remove yourself from the trap of comparison for just a moment. Take a good look at what your everyday life looks like. What are you doing to achieve your goals? Every moment spent envying someone else’s accomplishments is a moment wasted that could have been used to take one small step closer to making your dream a reality.
Instead of focusing on what others have that you don’t, focus on what you need to do to become the person you aspire to be like. Focus on the little things.
Do you and your horse look respectable each time you set foot in the arena, or do you look like you just climbed out of bed and pulled your horse out of a mud pit? Do you take the time to listen to what your coach is saying and practice the things you don’t like when they are not around?
Do you spend time with your horse, establishing a bond and getting to know every vital sign and every marking on his body so that you are the first to know if something is off?
When you get home, do you immediately switch your brain off until the next ride, or do you reflect on what you learned and what you need to work on? Do you take a few minutes to read an article on an exercise you’d like to try or watch a video on YouTube of a rider who sets a good example for your riding style?
These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself when you get stuck in a cycle of feeling down on yourself. Be meticulous. Do your homework. Trust me, each and every person out there has had to walk a difficult road to get to where they are. Horses are heartbreaking, and they’re expensive. This is a reality that every horse person must accept and work with — they don’t call it an addiction without good reason.
This is something I myself struggle with on a daily basis. When I read the quote I began this post with, I tried to realign my way of thinking (which is much easier said than done) and focus more on what steps I was taking to improve myself.
Be cognizant of what you do when no one is watching. These are the moments that build you up to reap the fruits of your hard work. Soon enough, your own highlight reel will be more than enough, and it will all be a result of your focus on the behind the scenes.