Growing up I was very insecure and struggled with social anxiety. One of the reasons I was struggling with my self-image was because I kept comparing myself with my friends and classmates. I would think things like “I’ll never be as smart as her” or “I’ll never be as strong as him.”
This act of comparison contributed to a constant feeling of insecurity and inferiority. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough. Now that I have grown older, I have come to the realization that I should do all that is in my power to stop comparing myself to others.
As I began to implement this into my life, I began to feel happier and more comfortable in my own skin. I began to appreciate the talents of others rather than covet them. I began to love myself for who I am rather than wishing I could be like someone else.
It is common practice to compare ourselves with other people. We compare our athletic abilities, grades, salaries, and even our friendships. Comparison is a part of human nature, but very often comparison will leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied.
Here are a few reasons why you should stop comparing ourselves with other people:
1. You Will Become Unhappy With Yourself
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
Like I mentioned earlier, I struggled with my self-image growing up. As I continued to compare myself more with others I began to feel increasingly miserable.
When we compare ourselves to others we often only compare our worst qualities with the best qualities of other people. We just look at their highlight reel. If we only look at the highlights of other people’s lives we will begin to feel insecure or ashamed of our everyday doings.
For example, I might be scrolling through Facebook and see that one of my friends went to India for vacation during spring break. After seeing this I might start thinking something similar to, “I wish I had done something that fun for spring break. All I did was stay at home and watch Netflix.”
These types of comparisons will leave you feeling like you’re not good enough.
In reality, my friend probably had a great time in India, but he also had many boring moments at his home just like I did. It just so happens that he didn’t post about those terribly boring moments on social media.
2. You Will Become Jealous
When we compare ourselves to others it is easy to become jealous of their achievements, abilities, or popularity.
You might have a friend that is a successful businesswoman. Maybe she makes twice as much as you do. If you compare yourself to her you will likely begin to feel secure. You might start thinking things like “why don’t I make as much money as her? I work just as hard.”
You will likely begin to feel jealous and start to harbor envy against your friend. This will begin to separate yourself from her and you will likely build up enmity against your friend.
In high shcool I loved to play basketball. I spent hours learning about the game and honing my skills, but the joy of the game was often snatched from me and replaced with feelings of jealousy.
I would look at my competition or even my teammates and hate the fact that they were better than me. I would sit around and think about how hard I worked, and how much I deserved to play more minutes or get more attention.
If I had just focused on doing everything I could to help my team whether than worrying about being the center of attention, I probably would’ve enjoyed playing the sport much more than I did. More importantly, I would’ve been able to bond much better with my teammates.
3. Your Friends Will Become Enemies
Let’s go back to the businesswoman illustration.
Eventually this jealousy you have been building up towards your successful friend to will cause to dislike your her. After a certain amount of time, you will begin avoiding her or arguing with her. Soon enough you may even begin to fight with her and your friendship could fall apart.
This is a vicious cycle that could all be avoided if we simply learned to stop comparing ourselves with others.
Jealousy leads to anger. Anger leads to hatred. And hatred, as we all know, leads to the dark side.
4. You Will Stop Growing as a Person
Finally, comparison has the potential to paralyze you. You may end up feeling hopeless and thinking that you’ll never be as cool, funny, or successful as the people you compare yourself with.
These thoughts usually lead to apathy. We start to feel like we won’t amount to anything and that we might as well just sit around and let life happen to us. It can make us hopelessly passive rather than proactive.
When we get into this mindset we must realize that we are not the person we are comparing ourselves. I am me, and you are you. You have to decide what you really want in life. Who do you really want to be?
When we figure our who we are and what we want out of life, we can begin living our own lives rather than trying to be someone else. You never want to catch yourself chasing someone else’s dream.
Let’s close with a quote taken from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations that addresses this point better than I ever could:
“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”