The Importance of Not Comparing Yourself to Others: A Testimony in Self Growth

She wakes up and runs to the Pete, to lift and then makes herself breakfast before I even wake up. Should I be doing that? She does look better than me! NO, you are just as beautiful as she is! Yeah, I KNOW that, but like seriously, should I be doing that? I wonder if I lose weight or wake up and do some work if I will be better? You hate the morning; you are not a morning person. Yeah, but look at her, she is a better person than me.

They have their whole life figured out. How do they have their whole life figured out? How do they know what grad school they want to go to do? And which program and what career trajectory?! They could just be guessing or saying that is what they plan on doing if all the chips fall into place. But all the chips will fall into place for them. They are perfect, they have all the professional and educational experience they could need. What can I do to be more like them? Why are they so much better? What am I doing wrong?

I cannot believe I said that! Do you see everyone’s face; they are not reacting with any sort of emotions! They hated my point. I am never going to speak in this class again. That was so embarrassing. Dude, you literally have to, this class is 20% participation. Yeah, but how do I know I am right, like it feels like every time I talk, I embarrass myself! Everyone else is so much better versed on this topic. I never appear to know what is going on in this class.

It is embarrassing to admit, but all I do is compare myself to others. Even in a primarily virtual space, I compare myself to people on zoom, in online seminars and even in group breakout rooms. Every day, and I mean every day, I dip my toe into the endless pool of comparison, and every day, just like the day before, I end up drowning in a pool of self-doubt. It is not only embarrassing but, at this point, it is exhausting. When you are using all your energy to look at the ways everyone else is carrying and conducting themselves it makes it so much more difficult to love the way you are living your own life.

This article is not “10 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others” because frankly, I do not have the moral high ground to give any sort of advice for NOT comparing yourself to others. This article is more geared towards why you SHOULD work towards not comparing yourself to others and why you should call yourself out.

Self-comparison is an amazing way to seriously mess with your vision - of the world and of yourself. When you are working so hard to see yourself in comparison to others, you can no longer see who you are clearly because you only see yourself as an extension of the scale you rate yourself on. Instead of seeing yourself and the world at large in its beautiful color, you see it in black and white or as who is better than who. Spoiler alert: There will always be someone you think is prettier, smarter, quicker witted, more conversational, kinder and more creative. When you think about it, the game of comparison is rigged—you can never win. The whole game is fixed against you, rooted in self-judgment, jealousy and insecurity, sure to make you feel worse at the end, more so than when you started. You simply cannot be better than everyone else at everything.

Listen, I get it. It is so difficult to not compare yourself to others because it is how you dictate where you are; and in a life full of competition, that feels important. But what if I could convince you that life isn’t a competition—I am not going to do that because then this article would be more of a self-help book— but alas what if I could? What would you think then, and more importantly, what would you do then? Would you wake up comparing yourself and criticizing every movement, or would you simply begin to conduct your life in a way that makes you enjoy it to the utmost extent?

The comparison game eventually ends in a cookie-cutter life, with no color and no vibrancy— but at least you were able to look, act and feel like everyone else, right? Truly, don't we all want to be blaringly unique, a deafening representation of ourselves? Shouldn’t we demand our individuality to be highlighted? When we compare ourselves to others, we are consciously and unconsciously moving towards ordinary, plainness, the standard. By embracing who you truly are, you can minimize the effect of comparison on your life because you will be doing things on your own terms.

Working on your own self-perception starts with discontinuing the comparison game. Pack it up and put it in the very back of your closet. All that energy you exhausted comparing yourself to others can be utilized to promote your own self-interests. Instead of dissecting your life choices in comparison to the lives of others, maybe try dissecting the amount of happiness or joy that those choices brought to your life. 

Instead of comparing yourself to others, maybe slowly work on comparing who you are right now to who you want to be. Use all that comparison energy to analyze the things that keep you from self-growth. Criticize the self-placed obstacles that are limiting you from being the best version of yourself. Comparison to others is detrimental, but a comparison of yourself now to who you would like to be may just be instrumental in allowing you to live your life without limits. 

Not only is comparing yourself to others extremely detrimental to your mental health and self-representation, but it also takes away from your individuality. Being critical of yourself in contrast to other people does not allow self-growth. However, recommitting that energy to yourself may produce results that promote a better version of yourself. Focusing on your own goals and dreams allows happiness to seep into the deepest and darkest cracks of insecurity and jealousy, filling them with joy and gratification.