Recently, my friend Nornoriel published a post that was in part inspired by one of my posts on Pagan Square, which was in turn inspired by one of his posts. As Nono commented, I love when my friends and I inspire each other this way–which is sort of the point of this post.
In the old days of paganism (you, know back when everyone was pagan), it’s very unlikely that spirit workers sat around comparing themselves to other spirit workers to their own detriment; thoughts such as “Wanda the Witch over in the next village has done twenty healings this week while I’ve done only seven” probably did not happen a whole lot. One of the reasons for this is that spirit workers were few and far between, and without the Internet and modern transportation, you probably didn’t have a whole lot of opportunity to hop on over to the next village and check out what Wanda was up to. Also, you were probably too busy doing your own work to care.
With all of the great things the Internet and modern connectivity have brought into our lives, the enhanced opportunity to compare ourselves to other people is something we could do without. It isn’t just spirit workers who do it, of course; artists and writers do it too (and probably always have, but now we can compare ourselves with even more people than ever before, and with greater ease).
But here is the thing, the lesson that (as I discussed in my post) I had to learn the hard way. We each have our own special way of going about things, our own unique gifts, our own sparkle. Comparison kills that sparkle. It kills it by draining our power, by placing our attention on what other people are doing rather than on what only we can do. In my blog post, I mentioned how comparing myself with a former friend kept me paralyzed for years, kept me from discovering the unique things I have to offer, the things only I can do. I brought that story up because I was talking about shadow work, and in the process I shared some of the shadows I had to work through to reach the point where I am now. (Mining their own experiences for examples is a thing that writers do.) But what I failed to realize back then, and needed to discover on my own through a metric ton of self-work, is that we each walk our own path, face our own challenges, and have our own approach to things that no one else can duplicate. Even when two people are following a very similar path (or a path that may look externally similar), it is not going to be the same because the people themselves are different. Even when two people are following the same god, the relationships are going to be unique because the people are unique. Even when two artists are using the same medium, or making similar things, they are going to each bring their own outlook on the world, their own personality, to that work, and those things can never de duplicated. (Not even when intentional copying takes place, which is why copying is not a thing that concerns me, personally. Other people make ritual cords, but they aren’t exactly like mine. Want to make ritual cords exactly like mine? I encourage you to try, and I predict that unless you’re a fussy Virgo who can get lost in tiny details for hours at a time, you won’t have the patience for it. Plus? You can’t copy the energy that goes into them, plus I have plenty of other ideas where the cords came from.)
Once I was able to grasp this lesson, my entire life changed: I found a way to work fewer hours to make my life easier, discovered a medium I am frankly pretty damned good in (Odin wanted me to type “brilliant” there), am doing well enough in my business that I was able to buy a spinning wheel from the proceeds of mostly a single days’ sales and can see myself building towards quitting my day job in a year or two, and found my spirit work path unrolled before me like a carpet (a very bramble-twisted, dark, forested carpet with monsters and dead people) that I am walking at His side. Others may not like where I have ended up, and it isn’t my ultimate destination in all respects, but from my perspective it’s a good place to be, and someplace I would never have dreamed I’d be standing only a few years back.
So don’t let yourself get caught in the comparison trap (or its cousin, the “she’s copying me” trap), because all it means is you’re spending too much time looking at what other people are doing, and not enough on the Work before you. Comparison kills sparkle, and the world needs your sparkle; it’s too precious to lose.