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(à la every Everest College commercial you've ever seen...)

So you're sitting at the house, wondering what to do. It's Saturday afternoon and life is passing you by. Then suddenly a great idea hits you - let's go on Facebook! Ahhhh, yes. Nonchalant mind numbing scrolling for hours on end is just what you need to get your mind off of the nothingness that is your day. This seems to be the perfect pastime; one could even say it's got a tinge of productivity to it. By "liking" Ashley's status about how she just got accepted into her dream law school, you have practiced the ancient art of celebrating others' achievements. By sharing Mo'Nique's newest viral video about #BoycottNetflix, you've enacted your revolutionary prowess without expressly showcasing whose side you're on. With each swipe of your finger, there's another person achieving something, venting their dirty laundry, in crisis mode, celebrating new life stages...and then there's you. You're caught in the haze of it all comparing your highs and lows and even your "middles" (need I remind you that it's still a lazy Saturday where your life closely resembles the beginning of an Everest College commercial). That's when the downward spiral begins.

The path of comparison is always one that leads to disaster. Either you compare yourself to someone you falsely feel subordinate to and your heart sinks, or you compare yourself to someone you falsely feel superior to and your pride swells. Both ways are unfruitful, and quite frankly, are mentally unhealthy. Well, who's to say you have to spiral downward!? What if you could change the trajectory starting right where you are right now by learning from some of my life experiences? Here are my 5 Ways to Stop the Comparison Cycle!

1. See Yourself Differently

On December 30th. I got a call from the Director of Entertainment for the Detroit Pistons seeking to book me for the 2018 MLK Day Halftime Presentation (check out the final result above). This call came completely out of the blue, and although it was exciting, it was also slightly intimidating. As the Director told me about his vision to have my original spoken word piece recited over the strings of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to the backdrop of speed painter and America's Got Talent finalist, David Garibaldi, I began to question my qualifications. Performing in a newly built arena for thousands on such a prolific day was no joke!

Then, I straightened up and saw myself differently. I wasn't "just" some random girl from Michigan who had nice poems. I am a professional spoken word artist, excellent in my craft! The fact that I even got the call at all was a confidence booster! No, my name may not be as big of a brand as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and I may not have been on as large of a stage as AGT (yet), BUT somehow, all of our paths led us to that specific place together in that moment, and that says a lot. It says that I, too, deserved to be there. When I upgraded my view of myself from the little girl that would write poems in her bed for fun, to the professional woman that now can command the attention of whole arenas, I realized there was no need to compare, and therefore, no need to feel intimidated.

2. Stay in Your Lane

After the Pistons game, MLK Day was the gift that kept on giving because I had a night show with my poetry collective, The International Writers Guild! Along with HBO's Def Poetry Jam star, @TheLegendaryBlackIce, we had a packed out show that was very well received; but that wasn't the best part. Look at the above flyer, it has the faces of all my cast mates. Just as diversified as our faces, our hair, and our swag are, that's how different our poetry is. When I spit, I project from the depths of me. Other people on my team have a soft voice that makes the audience lean in and work for the pearls of wisdom that are about to be put on display. Some of the artists present on subjects such as growing up in an Asian home, being stopped in an airport for wearing a hijab, and gentrification - all things that I would not be able to speak to given my personal background and experiences, but that's okay! They cover subjects that I couldn't and I cover subjects that they probably wouldn't, because we are all different. This alleviates the need to compare because we all are confident with staying in our respective lanes. We are stronger together and as a team, we are able to reach the masses.

3. Get Busy

Oftentimes we find ourselves being most tempted to compare ourselves to others when we feel stagnant in our own lives....but whose problem is that!? Hint: Not the person whose IG account you've been stalking. It's YOU! You have the power to be your own Woman Crush Wednesday, hair goals, Man Crush Monday, relationship goals, and whatever else has you out here feeling pressed!

Have you thought about what makes you feel most alive? What are you passionate about? Good at? What gets your heart excited (and maybe even pays your bills simultaneously)? That is what you need to be focused on! When you get more serious about your life goals and less about looking around you to see who else is meeting theirs, you may just be onto something.

4. Know Your Triggers

Because you may walk into a situation feeling as impenetrable as Captain America, but even he knows when to pull out. Backtrack, rewind, exit stage left, do whatever you have to do to get out of the comparison cycle! When the personified version of comparison knocks on your proverbial door, if you must open it, answer that toothless wimp with only one word, "#nope" - throw the "hashtag" in there for added emphasis.

But seriously, by this point, you know what gets you in the wrong frame of mind. Maybe it's that scroll down a particular person's timeline. It could even be hanging out with your "best friend" that now has become more of a frenemy due to their new-found success. Take a break from that social media site and have a personal conversation with that friend before it goes any further. You're not weak for identifying your temptation points. Indeed, in those times, you are exhibiting your truest strength.

5. You Are Who You Are, Not What You Do

Sometimes for me, I even struggle with comparing myself to myself! Sounds crazy right? I might see an old picture and think of how I weighed less in high school, or I'll think back on a fond nostalgic memory and wonder if I've done anything useful with my life since then. In those moments, a great way to get over this is to make a list of all of the great things that I have done. I'll list it all from great to small, but ultimately, it always comes back to the list that matters much more - the list of all the things that I am, even above the list of all the things that I do. I am confident. I am beautiful. I am intelligent. I am competent. I am...keep it going.


Mikhaella Norwood

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