“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.”
― Shannon L. Alder
When I was in high school, Jordan shoes were the ongoing craze. Every kid who loved basketball would give anything to have those pair of shoes and I was one of those kids. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to buy those kinds of shoes because they were just too expensive for a middle-income family like ours so all I can do was look at them and admire them from a distance while a classmate or friend walked around wearing them.
I can’t deny the fact that I envied my friends who had them but it was no big deal. Life will go on for me even if I didn’t own a pair but I must admit, there’s that tiny bit of jealousy screaming right inside of me.
A month or two after, a new trend will start. Remember those Reebok “PUMPs“? The ones where you had to pump the rubber ball design on the shoes and as you pumped, the shoes get tighter? I dreamed of having a pair of those back then too especially the black ones.
My parents have made me understood that there are things we can’t afford and that we must be contented with what we have and this principle has remained with me even to this day. I know where I stand and I know what I am capable of that’s why I don’t easily fall in to the comparison trap. Of course there are times that I still do. We all do and even up to this day, I still do from time to time but I’ve been cautious enough not to let it get blown out of proportion.
Sometimes our competitive spirit gets the best of us that we fail to notice that we’re already making comparisons which should be okay to a certain extent but can be alarming if it’s already bordering on envy. There’s a lot of reasons why we should avoid falling into the comparison trap and here are some of them:
Comparison can stop you from developing your own identity
I’m a big basketball fan and I love watching player interviews and in the NBA, every time a top-caliber player steps up to the plate, comparisons are made to the gold standard of basketball known as Michael Jordan. LeBron, Kobe, Durant, these guys have all been compared to Michael. The million dollar question in basketball has always been “Who will be the next Michael Jordan?” and I’ve always admired players who would answer this question with “None” or “There’s only one Michael Jordan” or “I want to be known as (insert player name) and not the next so and so…”
If our competitiveness becomes an obsession where in we always compare the aspects of another person’s life to ours, we may not know it but the day may come when we will suddenly realize that we’re not living our lives anymore. In our eagerness to keep up with a neighbor or a friend, we might end up doing things that’s not within our nature. That’s short of saying that we’re living the life of that person and not ours.
Comparison can steal your joy
Comparing yourself to others is like running in a race against competitors. You try to outdo one another in terms of speed and distance but life is not a race against other people. We each run our own race. If you live your life by constantly comparing yourself with another person, you can never be happy. All we will be doing is satisfy ourselves by not being outdone by the other person but is that what we really want?
The things that make us happy should not be dependent on another person. Happiness should come from within ourselves and we can only achieve happiness if we go through life looking ahead instead of looking back to check the other person’s progress against ours.
Comparison can lower your self-esteem
I’ve experienced this first hand and I’ve learned my lesson since then of not comparing myself with another person in terms of career achievement. When a friend of mine got promoted, I felt happy for him because I saw how hard he worked to get to where he was and he deserved that promotion as far as I can see but I fell into the comparison trap.
I made the mistake of telling myself that we were batch mates, we were of the same age and we worked equally hard but why was he the only one who got promoted? Stupid right? This line of questioning only made me feel bad about myself. It got my confidence down because I had to compare myself with another person who got recognized. I realize now that he was promoted for a certain reason and there’s another reason why I wasn’t but it was never about who was better than the other.
Comparison can hold you back from unleashing your potential
Most of us are afraid of being branded as “unique” or “one-of-a-kind” because it has a negative feel to it but being both is actually not bad at all. We’ve all been raised to have this mentality of being among the majority and our motto has always been “I am doing what’s right because everyone does it”.
This kind of mentality is what will make us stay within mediocrity. Highly successful people refused to be considered average or mediocre and that’s one of the reasons why they are who they are right now. They dared to be different and did not care what people may say. Some of them even got laughed at because they were doing something out of the norm but who’s laughing now?
The best example for this would have to be Steve Jobs. His ideas were considered ambiguous during his time because the technology was still not capable to make those ideas a reality yet but did anyone even expect that his ideas may become possible in the near future? We can’t really tell but this uniqueness he possessed helped make our lives better with the inventions Apple has come up with and for that, Steve Jobs was not only considered successful, he was also considered a visionary.
Happiness and success are things that depend highly on ourselves and not on other people. Comparing yourself with another person will only hold you back instead of helping you achieve these two things. Live a life of your own, take charge and be intentional.
Over to You
What’s the worst thing that happened to you because of comparing yourself to someone else?
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