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Your Fertility, Your Story: Escaping the Comparison Trap

The other day I was out for a walk listening to a podcast, and as I listened, I felt myself becoming increasingly jealous of the host. She has a huge, and I mean massive, social media following, she’s very articulate, and I’d imagine that she has people flocking to her for help and advice.

And then it hit me. In my professional life I was doing exactly what I’d struggled with on my fertility journey: I was comparing my story, my progress, my worth even, to hers.

Can you relate? I’m guessing you probably can.

Because it’s so hard not to compare! It’s hard not to look at your friends, your relatives, even total strangers and compare where they are with where you are. It’s hard not to internalize societal or cultural norms, as well as the “picture perfect-ness” we see paraded on social media.

But here’s the truth. Playing the comparison game is a huge mistake. 

Comparison Tends to Come Naturally to Us

Why is that?! Well, here are 4 of the most common reasons:

No One Wants to Feel Left Behind

This is the first and most obvious reason. We all just want to be included and to fit in. When all your friends, siblings, or cousins have a baby and you don’t, their priorities become different than yours, and you can end up feeling left out, or actually being left out, of conversations and activities. It’s isolating and lonely. 

Social Expectations

Next we’ve got all the conventional societal norms surrounding family planning. A lot of them are outdated, based on life in years past when society as a whole, for better or for worse, functioned differently than it does today. But they persist, and in many cases their effect is to amplify the sound of your ticking biological clock when the reality of the situation doesn’t call for it. Not all norms are societal, however. You can feel pressure based on cultural or family expectations, too. All of this makes it so easy to fall into the trap of sizing up your fertility progress against others.

Fear of Being Judged

Even if it’s not cool to say it out loud, we all know that deep down we’re kind of afraid of what other people think of us, and that can be a significant driver of comparison. When you feel a little insecure, you sometimes make comparisons in an effort to align your experiences with what you think is expected of you.

Social Media

The social media factor adds another, kind of icky, layer to the mix. We find ourselves in a world dominated by carefully curated stories and seeming perfection at every turn. It's so easy to unintentionally measure your own successes and setbacks against everything you see online, even when you know nothing of the person who is posting. 

Comparison and Your Fertility Do Not Mix

Constantly sizing yourself up against others can seriously dent your self-confidence. It's like you're in a race where everyone seems way ahead of you, and you're left wondering what’s wrong with your legs. But your life, your story isn’t a race at all! Remember, your journey is unique, and any comparisons you make only serve to blur the remarkable progress you've made.

Then there’s stress and anxiety. You're already juggling the emotional weight of fertility challenges, and then you throw in the stress of comparing yourself to seemingly picture-perfect stories? It's a recipe for a perfect storm of negative stress that actively works against your overall calmness (and quite frankly, your fertility, too!) You're aiming for a sense of peace on this journey, not a chaotic quest to keep up with someone else's timeline.

And here's another thing – when you're constantly looking sideways at others, it’s much easier to lose sight of your own priorities. Your decisions should always be driven by what matters to you, not by someone else's path. External benchmarks can be distracting, and steer you away from a fertility plan that aligns with your personal goals and values. You want your decisions to be rooted in your truth, and not swayed by comparison-induced confusion.

Lastly, comparisons can actually lead to indecision which can be a real roadblock. You might hesitate to make proactive choices because you fear they won't match up to societal standards, what all your friends did, etc. And that’s bad. Your journey deserves decisions that resonate with you and your unique needs and wants. 

How to Get Out of the Comparison Trap

Alright, let's flip the script and talk about what you can do instead. 

Let Go of External Expectations

Trust me, I get it – the pressures from friends, family, and even society can feel like a weight on your shoulders. Not to mention the longing you may feel when you watch them enjoying that which you want the very most! But here's the thing, this journey is uniquely yours (have I mentioned that before?!) All these external expectations are just unnecessary baggage that you can put down now. Other people have different journeys. Fine. Your job is to focus on what aligns with your values and situation, and let go of the rest.

How to Get It Done

When it comes to external expectations from friends and family, if it feels right to you, you might consider having open and honest conversations with them. Share your feelings, express your need for support, and definitely set boundaries when necessary. Let them know that your journey is your own, and while you appreciate their concern, you're navigating it in a way that feels right for you. Open communication can often help alleviate external pressures, and free you up to focus on your individual path. And if open communication isn’t an option, or doesn’t solve the problem, then sometimes less communication may, unfortunately, be the way to go.

Be Choosy With Your Social Media

Social media can paint a glossy picture, but the real stories are often not so neat. (And sometimes they’re just downright lies.) So, instead of measuring your journey against someone else's highlight reel, set your own benchmarks based on what’s right for you. Consciously letting go of these expectations can be liberating. Remember, your path doesn't have to mimic anyone else's.

How to Get It Done

Take a break from the social media platforms or accounts that you find trigger your comparisons. Create an online environment for yourself that includes positive and supportive content. As much as possible you want your phone or computer to be a safe space for you. And don’t forget about all the activities that bring you joy and fulfillment outside of the digital realm! Remember, your worth and progress are not defined by anyone else's journey. 

Focus On Yourself

Lastly, and probably most importantly, you have to turn the spotlight inward. Embrace the beauty of your own story. Recognize that every twist, turn, and even the bumps in the road make your journey, and your life, uniquely special. Focusing inward will allow you to appreciate the strength, resilience, and growth that come with the fertility journey. Celebrate the small victories, acknowledge the challenges, and remember that your narrative is unfolding in its own extraordinary way. By tuning into your own experience, you'll find the confidence, calm, and control you’re looking for on this remarkable journey.

How to Get It Done

Turning attention inward and recognizing the uniqueness of your journey involves practicing self-compassion and mindfulness. Make self-reflection a habit so you don’t miss the small wins, you’re able to acknowledge the progress you’ve made, and you fully appreciate how amazing you are as you walk this path. There are a lot of ways to do this, but journaling and meditation are two of my favorites!

Like most things worth doing, changing your mindset to eliminate comparison might take a little bit of work, but I promise you that the empowerment you’ll feel makes it totally worth it. By consciously letting go of comparisons and expectations, you’re paving the way for a more positive fertility journey that aligns with your individual story, and that is gold.


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