Comparing Yourself to Others

Flowers are pretty and so are Christmas lights — but they look nothing alike.

I don’t know why we do this to ourselves sometimes.

Negative thoughts are like a train of rats. They come in groups. When I become aware of them, it becomes harder for me to force myself out of the negative thinking.

It sucks knowing that it’s detrimental to your mental health, and you may feel helpless to get yourself out of the said situation.

Image Credit: Davis Lezcano

I took the plunge and brought my questions to others.

“Have you ever felt like that bad person who can’t be happy for someone else no matter how hard you tried? Traveling, being a better speaker, job prospects, etc. have all been something I've been trying to achieve, but, in the cases where others achieve something in that field of interest I'm happy for them on the surface, but it is actually so hard for me to be happy for them. How do you deal with this?”

The responses I received floored me.

“It’s something that everybody does at some point in their lives. It holds us back and makes us feel less than. However, this is how I worked on it.”

To put it simply, the main lesson I got out of this was: comparison can be helpful. It can be beneficial to your life if you allow yourself to learn from them and be inspired by what others did — knowing that all these things that others have achieved are indeed possible.

Why Was I Doing It?

Because of the fact that my friends and I are in vastly different stages of our lives.

Pursuing my degree after two years of working is not easy. Coming from a place where you’re financially independent to a place with no income and going from working full time to studying full time can be a hard transition. I find myself itching to work again because I loved that grind. There were many times I considered being one of the tech kids who drops out of college to go on and restart their career path. I prioritized doing free work over studying. I felt shame as I mentioned my age because everyone around me was obviously younger, and some even graduating as young as 19.

I question the plans I outlined during my youth. Why didn't I think of traveling as much as I could before enrolling myself in a four-year university? Why didn't I study harder in high school to get a better scholarship plan? If I had done all of that, all of my current concerns would be minimized.

Except they wouldn't be — not always. A different set of problems will always surface and it’s really up to us to think about how we are going to deal with them.

How Can I Stop Doing It?

I dealt with it on my own for a couple days as I constantly fought against my emotions. One day, I lost it. I lashed out at my boyfriend over the phone. That was not okay.

Thankfully, my boyfriend took it really gracefully and managed to keep his cool. I started seeking out groups and individuals that could help me with my feelings and let their advice percolate and penetrate my thought process. I definitely felt better knowing I’m not alone and realizing that these negative feelings — like the positive ones — are all impermanent. I revisited my favorite book from Mitch Albom, and Morrie sure had a quote readily addressing my concern. He said, “Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you’re able to leave it.”

Looking back, it’s funny how we have to repeatedly remind ourselves of facts like these when a wild mix of emotions cloud our thoughts and blur our visions — preventing us to see the brighter side of things. With that said …

Photo courtesy of author.

Hi, I’m Calista. I have accrued thousands of followers on Instagram, co-founded a business with my sisters, have received two scholarships, am a top Quora writer, and write for major publications. But all of these … are superficial.

Calista needs to be okay with who Calista internally is. She breaks rules; she celebrates people; she makes punny jokes; she gets jealous; and most of the time, she needs to lighten the h*** up. Unless Calista can make peace with who she is and recognize her self-worth, all the achievements above … are just pretty adornments.