I am one of those people who constantly compares themself to others. Maybe it’s because I was born in a household with two sisters, and grew up as the youngest twin no less, but it’s a habit that I find very difficult to break. My childhood was one built out of sibling rivalry, perpetual battles of ego, the survival of the fittest. I promise we don’t act like that anymore; we’re adults, come on. But after living in the endless shadow of my sisters all my life as the youngest sibling twice over, it was hard for me to break the habit of comparing myself to others once I reached “adulthood.”
Branching out in college was, needless to say, hard. Everywhere I looked there was someone who was better than me; someone who was smarter than me, prettier than me, taller than me, stronger than me, just all-around better – cue the JB and Jaden Smith. I saw fully formed adults while in myself I only saw a child pretending to be one. While I wasn’t comparing myself to my sisters anymore, as they were off in their own collegiate worlds, here was a brand new world of comparison that I could size myself up against.
You can probably guess where this is going, but in short, it was exhausting. Comparing myself to others had so many side effects on my mental health that I couldn’t even have guessed. My freshman year I pretty much only left my dorm for class and to eat. I was so scared of what people would think of me that I didn’t even want to go outside to give people the chance. It was terrifying. I thought so poorly of myself and didn’t give myself a fighting chance against strangers I didn’t know anything about.
It finally reached a tipping point when the few friends that I lived with pointed out to me just how hermit-ish I really was in my sophomore year. They were disappointed that I kept to myself and didn’t share personal details with them for fear of being judged in comparison. I was mortified at my behavior. I didn’t realize that the way I compared myself to others not only affected me, but my friends as well. I knew I had to do something about my behavior, and the way that I felt about myself.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that I will never be the best me if I keep comparing myself to the wrong people
So I went out. I started being more active in the college community than ever before. It was so scary at first; there was a lot of imposter syndrome to be sure, and I was still comparing myself to others as I joined clubs, a sorority, and went to public campus events. But the more I put myself out there, the more I realized that I was just like everyone else. The feeling of not being enough, of comparing yourself to the put-together stranger on the street is something I found a lot of people do every day.
Comparing myself to others is a habit I may never be able to get rid of. Sometimes it can even be a good thing, a motivator. The most important thing that I’ve learned over the years is that I will never be the best me that I can be if I keep comparing myself to the wrong people. Strangers, who look like they have it all together? I don’t need to compare myself to them, I don’t even know them! I shouldn’t even be comparing myself to my sisters. They are completely separate human beings from me, with dreams, abilities, and obstacles that are entirely different from my own.
Life will always be a comparison game whether I like it or not. Even if I eventually get over my struggle with comparing myself to others, I will still be compared in other situations. Job interviews, romantic relationships, and even people like me who know the struggle with comparing themselves to others might see me on the street as a stranger and make a snap judgment. What I can safely say moving forward is that I can only account for myself and how I compare myself to others. And I only want to be better than the person I was yesterday.