For as long as I can recall, comparing ourselves to other people has been something we do consciously or unconsciously. When we engage in the act of comparison, we often contrast other people’s best features with our not-so-good ones. Not only do we instinctively strive to be greater than them, but the implicit awareness that we aren’t can most times lead to self-destructive behaviour. The truth is, I’m no saint in this and it’s okay to acknowledge it. If we really want to be honest with ourselves, there has been some point in our lives where we have looked at another person’s life (which might have been an acquaintance, a colleague, a friend or even a family member) and suddenly we draw a table in our minds and begin to differentiate how we do not meet up to the other person’s physical appearance, wealth, career, marriage, school/work performance, and probably a whole bunch of things that we might have termed as achievements—we all do it. Now don’t get me wrong, comparison in some scenarios has been a form of push, a source of motivation for some people. The issue for me, would probably be at what point do we draw the line? Personally, I feel that when we start to negatively compare ourselves to others and we become highly self-critical and self-defeating then there is a problem.
In the world today, almost everyone is on one form of social media site or the other. As physical contact is gradually reducing, the ball of comparison has been kicked to a whole new level. And for the most part, the comparison has not necessarily been empowering. Scrolling through people’s posts and wondering why your life isn’t as amazing as that persons’ is something that usually happens. By just scrolling, we are able to see who takes more magnificent vacations, earns more money, looks more attractive, has better relationships/marriages or generally just ‘living the life’. But social media has taught me the hard way that all that glitters is not gold, but I guess that’s a story for another day. The thing is people often show snippets of their lives to the world. They create an idealized representation of how they want their lives to be seen and you my friend is probably in a corner lost in fantasy island- fantasising if you could fit into their shoes. But let’s be reminded that ‘he who wears the shoes, knows where its pinches’. Never forget that there is something called behind the scenes. The truth is you really don’t know the intricacies of their lives. They show you their strengths, but everyone has a weakness. You know yours but theirs is hidden. Why then do you still judge yourself based on someone else’s glitz and glam. That just doesn’t seem fair to me. Bad case scenario, when we compare ourselves to others, we end up wasting our attention on getting them down rather than lifting ourselves up.
Here is a podcast I did with Stella Morgan, a writer and anthropologist that shares more about the issue of comparison.
Why Do We Compare Ourselves to Others – Sonia Amure
I know for a fact that there are certain things you are good at. It could be singing, dancing, writing, amongst other things- just being yourself. No one can ever be you no matter how much they tried. Not meeting other people’s standards or expectations shouldn’t bother you at all. What truly matters is what you think about yourself and the standards that you create for your own self.
Compare yourself to yourself. I know it sounds kind of weird, but it helps. Compare yourself to how you were yesterday as that would help build the best version of how you want to be today.
Comparing yourself to others is a path to unhappiness. Remember this- A perfect life does not exist, but a good one does and only you can control the kind of life you want to live. So, STOP THE COMPARISON already!!!