Starting this one off with an ol’ Teddy Roosevelt quote because it is soooo fitting. I’ve been thinking about this topic, comparison, for awhile now, because it is an innate human trait… something that we can all relate to. Everyone, at some point in their lives, has compared themselves to someone around them. Probably every single day. Probably multiple times a day.
Comparison can be the thief of your joy because it can begin to eat away at your happiness and your own self-worth.
Comparison can manifest itself it many ways:
“Wow, that dress looks so good on her. I wish my waist was that small.”
“They’re getting married already? They haven’t been dating as long as us.”
“I didn’t know he was making so much money.”
“They’re just really lucky.”
With comparison, often comes jealousy. And we all know, jealousy is the ugliest trait. In today’s age, it’s super easy to compare and be jealous of others with our constant access to their achievements and whereabouts via social media accounts. Facebook is mainly used to post about graduating college, job promotions, buying a home, engagement announcements, travel pictures, etc. Have you ever found yourself withholding a “like’ from someone because you thought they were bragging or boasting? Come on, be honest. If you have, the problem lies within yourself. Why was it so hard for you to just be happy for them? Because you were comparing yourself to them… because you were jealous.
The problem is, suddenly everything becomes a competition. We begin to put each other down, rather than support each other. Someone is labeled as the winner, while the other is the loser. Someone is no longer viewed as a living, breathing human, but just for their looks, their height, their success, their bank account, their relationship, their abilities.
Who’s to say that person “bragging” about their job promotion on Facebook didn’t just come out of a really rough time? Maybe they put their friends, family, and relationship on the back burner for months, put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears, and was finally rewarded for it?
It’s impossible to take one piece of information and run with it. You can’t be envious of one part of a person’s life without knowing the whole story. Everyone, and I mean, everyone, has a life of up’s and down’s, good and bad, gains and losses, achievements and shortcomings. Nobody’s life is without any disappointment. We can’t pick and choose the life we want– we can’t have the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect life. We all find our own way and when we work hard the right things fall into place for us. Anyone who is giving the notion that they have the perfect life by showing you only their highlight reel– is lying.
What’s really the issue here is this illusion of what our life is supposed to look like. College right after high school, getting a job right after college, finding someone, getting married and having kids by the time you’re 30, buying a house, working until you have enough money to retire, and putting your kids through college so the process can just be repeated over, and over, and over again.
You compare your life to someone else’s and become envious when something has happened to that person that hasn’t happened to you yet, or it has, but theirs is perceived as “better” in your mind. It’s this perceived notion of “better” or “worse” that affects your happiness. The path you’re on isn’t better OR worse, it’s just different. Everyone is on a different path.
Everyone’s timing is different. Some take a few years off before they go to college. Some don’t go to college at all. Some don’t find a wife or husband by the age of 25, some do. Some never get married at all. Some have kids before they get married. Some never have kids at all.
I’m 25 years old, living at home, single AF, with a college degree but not using it. A lot of my friends are in their own apartments or houses, getting married, having kids, and have already started their career. If I was caught up in the way my life was “supposed” to look like, and constantly comparing myself to those around me, I’d be pretty damn upset with my circumstances. But I’m not! Because I know my path is different, and I’ve accepted it.
It’s impossible to break the habit completely. You’ll never be able to not make comparisons to those around you. What you can do, is not let it affect your own happiness and your own self-worth. I read a quote one time that has kinda stuck with me… “Just because she’s pretty doesn’t make you any less pretty.” That’s a reminder that what’s going on with someone else, has little to no effect on you. One person’s good fortune does not mean you can’t have good fortune as well. Love, happiness, success, health, good relationships… they are infinite. There’s plenty to go around. Remember that!