Why Not Comparing Yourself To Others Is a Form of Self-Care

Self-comparison is something many young adults have struggled with throughout their lives. Whether it was the person who did their makeup better than you, the person who got better grades than you, or the classmate who learned to drive before you, at some point we all compare ourselves to others and feel like we have failed by not being at the same level as our peers.

I have struggled with comparing myself to others since I was in elementary school. By the time I got to high school, I had a very close friend who was better than me at everything she did. She got higher grades than me and was involved in a number of extracurricular activities. This was extremely intimidating for me. I felt like I was not smart and that I was doing nothing in comparison to her. I still struggle with this now when I think about all the people who are close to my age and somehow seem so much more accomplished. Some have already made a national or global impact.

For my new year’s resolution this year, I want to take better care of and learn to truly love myself. I think stopping these comparisons is a huge step of this self-care. I have been thinking a lot about the quote, “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it; it just blooms” – Zen Shin. This quote reminds me that we are all on a different journey. Everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, and life experiences so you cannot compare yourself to someone else who has had a completely different life than you. Some people are good in some areas, but not others; some people are only good at one thing, and some people are good at everything they do. If we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place.

Also, comparing yourself to others takes away from your own self-improvement. Perhaps you have a role model who you aspire to emulate or maybe you want to do the same internship as someone you know. That’s perfectly fine and it can be wonderful to take inspiration from others. The problem is when you think you are less than they are when you compare their accomplishments to yours. Instead of comparing your experiences and abilities to the accomplishments and talents of others, think about how you can improve and seek out ways to achieve this improvement. 

To take better care of yourself, first remember that no matter what your peers are doing, you are still a valuable person, and everything that you are doing and have done so far in your life makes you unique. Secondly, think about whether your comparison even makes sense. If you’re a journalism major, why would you feel bad about yourself if your engineering friend got a research opportunity? If, in fact, the comparison does make sense––say you are interested in activism and you know someone your age who already started their own nonprofit––realize that maybe the time isn’t right for you and that you have several years ahead of you to work on making the world a better place. You are building a foundation. 

Of course, it’s always good to recognize and support accomplished people, but know that you’re not “behind” if you’re not at the same level. Everyone’s life moves at a different pace. Although there may be a handful of similarities, each person you know including yourself has a very different experience. Turn jealousy into support, and comparison into self-improvement. When you readjust your focus from comparing yourself to others to your own improvement, you will build your self-esteem, gain confidence, and sharpen the skills you already have. Stopping self-comparisons is a difficult task, but it will definitely be worth it in the end. 


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