It happens almost immediately. You’re having a conversation or scrolling through social media, and you discover something that makes you second-guess yourself. A million doubts pop inside your head. You try to ward them off, but all you can think about is how inadequate you feel in regards to something else.
It’s comparison. And it’s the worst.
In life, there are a lot of things that can get in the way of a person’s goals, and I would argue that comparison is the biggest one. In a world that glorifies busyness and showcases distorted depictions of reality on social media, it’s difficult for people not to feel as though they’re less successful as everyone else.
I experience these moments every now and then, particularly when I am on Instagram. Stumbling upon one perfectly curated feed after another, I am met by an endless supply of photos from fancy events and tropical vacations. Because I typically go on Instagram during my downtime (as I imagine many people do) I wind up viewing these incredible images as I am doing things I generally wouldn’t categorize as productive (*cough* *cough* taking Buzzfeed quizzes). So, not only am I seeing people online who are having amazing experiences, but I am simultaneously being reminded of the fact that I am not currently having one. I mean, how can you view a photo of someone standing on a beautiful white sand beach as you watch your sixth episode of “Friends” of the evening and not have at least a few doubts?
Instagram is a prominent place for comparisons, but it isn’t the only one. Sometimes I feel the need to compare myself in the real-world, too. Whether it’s because I haven’t been doing this enough or that enough, I find ways to chip away at my own skills by examining someone else’s. I can’t escape it; comparison is everywhere.
I’ve been trying to do a better job of not comparing myself to other people lately, which I’ve found to be a massive challenge. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re going to get better at something, but to actually follow through with it? That takes work.
One thing that has helped me out in this process has been putting things into perspective, giving myself a reminder of what comparison truly is. I found this quote the other day that I believe really says a lot about comparison, and I like to remind myself of it whenever I feel the urge to make a snap judgement about myself while I am on social media. I realize motivational quotes might not appeal to everyone (if you’re not a quote person, sorry, but you need to get on board!), but this one has quickly become one of my favorites:
“Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.”
What’s valuable to me about this quote is that it brings up an important aspect of life that we so often forget: Each one of us is on a different trajectory. It’s inevitable that everyone will face their share of successes and hardships, but that doesn’t mean they will happen at the same time. Someone’s high point may occur while we’re at our low. That doesn’t mean they are inherently better than us or that they haven’t gone through their own difficulties; it just means that in this moment we are in different places.
Comparing ourselves to others won’t help us achieve anything. It won’t make us harder workers or equip us with the skills we covet or the opportunities we wish we had. It will only defeat us, sink us lower, and put us up against an unattainably high standard. Because comparison isn’t meant to motivate us; it’s meant to make us feel like we will never be capable of achieving the lifestyle or accomplishments of another individual. If we dwell on it too long, we end up losing steam and failing to do anything.
Going forward, I want to be more aware of my comparative tendencies so I can stop them before they have the chance to affect my judgement. As soon as I start to doubt myself as the result of someone else, I will remind myself that comparison will only make it harder for me to get better.
Ultimately, comparing yourself to other people won’t get things done or improve your life in any way. It’s more efficient to channel that energy in your hobbies and passions–it’s the only way to move in a positive direction.
How do you prevent yourself from comparing yourself to others?