May I be honest? Something’s been bugging the back of mind for a while now and I’d like to just write it out. Allow me to share my thoughts and I think everyone will find that they can relate.
Have you ever met someone who is just awesome? You introduce, become friends, hang out, laugh, and just have a good time together. Then, as time goes by, you realize you’re friend is really good at stuff. Whatever they set their mind to, they accomplish. Whether it’s learning something for the first time or doing typical tasks.
Do you have a friend like that? Maybe it’s a family member or a coworker, or someone you met one time? They can be kinda intimidating. You see their accomplishments, hear what others say about them, and suddenly you find yourself having a conversation with comparison.
“Oh, they’re really good at being a leader. I don’t think I can be like that.”
“Wow, they succeeded on their first try. I failed five times and still never got it.”
“Man, I wish I was as sure of myself as they are.”
“They’ve achieved so much and what I have done?”
“If I were more like them, my life would be better.”
The list goes on and what’s worse is that you start to let that comparison define you. You strive so hard to be like somebody else, you miss the value in just being you. You may have heard this before, but they say “comparison is the thief of joy,” and they’re right. I’ve been there. I still fall into that trap here and there. I compare myself to friends, coworkers, cousins, and the like. And you know what? It SUCKS! I’d go through periods of discouragement and self loathing because I wasn’t on the same road to success as my cousins or because I wasn’t as bold as my coworkers. It’s a dark place and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
So how do you get out? Well, just stop with the comparisons. It sounds easy, but it’s really not. I, personally, try to remember that everyone has different skill sets and that’s a good thing! If we were all the best at everything, we wouldn’t need each other. I’m not bold, but I know people who are, so if I notice a problem that needs addressed, I know who I can tell who will stir the pot. You may not be physically strong, but there are a lot of people out there who can help you compensate. I mean, if you think about it. How many books, movies, and video games have characters of different skills and backgrounds working together? Pretty much all of them. And if you make a team to work on a project, you’re going to pick people who have the skill sets for each task. So, why try to be like someone else on the team when you have your own role to play?
It’s difficult to keep that in mind. Whenever you see that person who’s “better than you” it’s a harsh reminder of the skills you lack, but you have to remember the skills you have. Remember what you contribute and be happy for your family, friends, and coworkers for the skills they have, because even though you need their skills now, they’ll be needing yours someday. So when comparison comes knocking for a nice little chat. Don’t even open the door. Remember there’s value in just being yourself. You’re one of a kind after all. Out of the billions of people in history and alive today, not one is like you. I struggle with comparing my life path to others, especially family. It’s hard seeing their success in finding a spouse, buying a house, or furthering their career when I’m still working on mine. But, that just means my timing is a little later than everyone else’s. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Besides, after thinking about it, I know there are things I want to accomplish before the spouse and the house show up.
Letting go of comparison is very freeing. Don’t get me wrong, I still fall into that trap now and again, but fighting back with truth reminds me of my own worth. It reminds me that the path I’m on has purpose. I’m working on growing confidence in myself and am growing more comfortable relying on others. However, lately, what’s strange is that I’m finding myself on the flip side.
“What do you mean ‘on the flip side?'”
Well…I’ve had some people compare themselves to me.
“Isn’t that a good thing? You should feel honored!”
Uh, no. No. Not at all. It sucks too. I’ve caught snide comments like: “Of course you did well” or people will outright compare themselves by saying: “We can’t all have your abs.” Or “you must have gotten your genes from your mother.” Then, you have the ones who are completely honest and kind about it when they tell you that seeing your success makes them feel insecure. They paint this grand illusion of you that you’re good at everything when you know that’s not true. That grand illusion and those admissions can make you feel many different things and I’ve listed the main ones:
- You want to live up to those expectations which you can’t because nobody’s perfect.
- You want to avoid the people you make feel insecure all together because you don’t want them feeling that way.
- You dial back yourself to make others feel better.
That’s also no way to live. If you try to meet those perfect expectations, you’ll burn out, make a mistake, and people will shame you for it. If you avoid the people you make feel insecure, not only is it lonely, but then others get REALLY insecure by thinking you’re not talking to them because you’re mad at them and misunderstandings lead to dead friendships. However, if you dial back yourself, you’re not being true to yourself and others will receive what you rightfully earn. Plus, you’ll be left out of the group, which is how I’ve been lately with family and with coworkers. I dial back so others don’t feel intimidated, but people start passing you by or overlook you when you don’t shine like you’re supposed too.
So, what do you do? People always say be true to yourself no matter what. But people don’t like it when you’re true self intimidates them. I honestly don’t have an answer. I’ve tried talking to the people who feel insecure around me, but the talks don’t help and I don’t know what more to do. Do you just go about your business? Shine in your own way and let the friendship fall apart because of their insecurities? I mean, I’ve reached out, but when they don’t reach back, how can you help them? I’ve never been in this position before. I mean, I’m always the one doing the comparing not the other way around!
I’ll end it here with this food for thought. If you have a story involving comparison whether it was you comparing to someone else or someone comparing themselves to you, please feel free to share! Either in the comments here or on my Twitter or Facebook pages. Maybe we can help each other win the battle against comparison and instead of being more like them, you be more like you.