There’s a woman on Instagram who I stalk religiously. I follow her just to see her perfectly posed, stylish, artsy, beautiful photos that always seem to have the perfect lighting and filters. I don’t know her, but I want to be like her. We all have that person. We reluctantly open our social media apps, promising ourselves that today we will not engage in comparison; but we do so anyways. Some days we hate ourselves for it. We hate ourselves for wishing that we were someone else. We hate ourselves for who we are. Why do we have so many flaws, while others seemingly lead picture-perfect lives? We feel inadequate when we compare our behind-the-scenes realities to everyone else’s highlight reels.
It has been said that comparison is the thief of joy. I beg to differ. Comparison is the thief of everything. It steals our happiness, confidence, and time. It takes over our thoughts, which could be much better spent on other things. It makes us either feel superior or inferior, neither of which is healthy. Comparison breeds jealousy. Jealousy cultivates self-hate. Self-hate leads to anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues. Comparison steals the best of us and reinforces the worst of us.
We tell ourselves things that we would not dare say to anyone else. Negative self-talk drills to our cores and poisons our thoughts. It influences how we speak to others. When we are happy with ourselves, we do not feel the need to bring others down. We no longer need to rely on the crutch of comparison. But how do we stop it?
Let’s learn to admire others without questioning ourselves. Next time you feel the urge to compare yourself, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this comparison fair to myself, or to the person I’m comparing myself to?
- How much time out of my day will I spend comparing myself to others? What else could I be doing with this time?
- Do I have anything to gain?
- Will I feel better or more confident afterwards?
Emerge from the security of the efforts to carefully construct yourself. Meet your true self – your honest, un-edited self. You cannot expect to find security from a broken identity. You must become intimately aware of yourself. You must embrace who you are, where you have been, and who you want to become. We all have the capability to love, serve, give, and pursue the greater things in life. Acknowledge the struggles of your past that you have conquered. Practice gratitude for your current state. Learn to not rise and fall with each success and failure. Your identity should be stable regardless of what happens to you, and regardless of what other people are doing.
Celebrate progress, not perfection. Foster gratitude over comparison. Respect yourself and embrace your own uniqueness. Everyone was created with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. It is only when you decide to fully, confidently accept your own amazing and flawed self that you will begin to truly live.
Decide what is important to you. Would you rather spend your time thinking of how you measure up to others, or contributing your own talents to others? Would you rather magnify your own flaws, or empower others by fostering their strengths? Find inspiration without comparison. Use the successes and strengths of others to drive your own creativity, passion, and goals. Other people are not #goals. But they can help you acknowledge your own goals, and give you the push you may need to get there.
Do not participate in the comparison race. Slow down. Focus on the leisurely aspects of life. Abide. Dwell. Delight. Move at your own pace. Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle. You are where you are. Remember that you are only competing with your past self. Decide that you want to improve. Nurture your strengths. Accept your weaknesses. Recognize your beauty. Get lost in your dreams. Chase something greater. Free yourself.