This matter has been playing on my mind for a while. I actually drafted a post months ago, rewrote it a few months later, tweaked it a couple of weeks after that and then left it on the shelf. Not sure why I struggled getting it right. But here’s another stab at it.
The topic came up in one of my meetings again this morning and led to a really good discussion. It reminded me that a lot of people deal with the issue of comparing themselves to others and it made me want to get you thinking about why you shouldn’t.
When I was very young, I had a conversation about something with my mom. I don’t remember the exact situation, but I do remember her saying: When you say something like that, you come across as a very jealous little girl. Please don’t be like that, it’s not a pretty trait.
It’s interesting, because I’ve actually had my moments of jealousy for a long time. Comparing myself to other people for all different types of reasons. You name the topic, and I would probably have an example of someone I envied. Not someone I looked up to, but someone I was a bit jealous of because I thought they were better off than me.
Please don’t judge…
Apparently, it’s human trait to compare yourself to others; a psychological thing. Everybody does it to some extent, with peers, siblings, or people who have traits (or possessions) you’d like to own. It’s a way of measuring yourself. But why wouldn’t we measure ourselves against our own goals, instead of other people’s achievements?
Just consider these examples:
“That person in that totally different job to mine earns so much more money than I do”. Well, that person making more or less money than you won’t change your life, will it? If you want to make more money, or want a similar job, than it’s up to you to make that happen.
“That person in a very different area of work has a bigger job title than I have”. So what? Are you happy with your job? Would a job title change make a substantial difference to your happiness? Is that person happy with their job?
“That person has lost so much weight and looks so much better than me” That person losing weight doesn’t have any health benefits to you nor did it make you look better. What can you do for you?
“That person has such a great circle of friends” Good on them. What are you going to do to get yourself a great circle of friends?
The examples are infinite. You might think of some that apply to you as you read this. I just hope it might make you think about it.
You’re not here to win the competition of “living the best life compared to others”.
Contemplating on my own experience, I believe moving abroad has probably made a difference for me. The thing about moving abroad is that you have to start from scratch in many areas and you’re doing it on your own. I focussed on building my life here in the UK. Making friends, finding a nice job, an enjoyable place to live. No time to compare yourself to others. Just time to try and create a life for yourself to enjoy and be happy with.
I’m quite aware I’ve made life choices that are a bit different to the “status quo”. But that’s the exact gist of it: it’s not about the status quo; it’s about doing what works for you. What do you need to make you satisfied with the life you live?
Why wouldn’t you just focus on what and who YOU want to be. You can only be you: you can’t be someone else. So why don’t you just try and be the best version of yourself instead of trying to be a better version of someone else?
I’m not saying I’m never tempted to compare myself to others anymore, but I’ve definitely come leaps and bounds. And best of all: I’m very content with my life choices and where I am now.
I’d like to leave you with this: My last blog post got a comment from one of my old HR directors. She referred to “Desiderata”, a poem written by Max Ehrmann in 1927. Somehow it never got on my radar before, but when I looked it up, it instantly became my favourite text of all times.
One line particularly stuck with me:
“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself”.
Maybe it would’ve been more powerful if I’d just shared the quote and left it there…
By the way, the picture above is from an awesome book by Charlie Mackesy, called “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”
His insta account is worth a follow too!
Oh, and thanks Mom…you were right 😉