Comparison is Killing a GenerationSep 19, 2021
Olivia Rodrigo said it best. Comparison is killing us slowly. We all have people we admire. But there’s a fine line between admiration and jealousy. It’s healthy and natural for us to feel jealous of course. But in our generation, we can sometimes take it too far and lose sight of ourselves in comparison. With all the talented and attractive people on the internet and in my daily life, I’m no stranger to the comparison game. Why try writing when there are younger, more successful writers out there? Why do art when there are thousands of people more skilled? Why practice music or write songs if I can’t be as great as Olivia Rodrigo or Taylor Swift? These thoughts are what makes jealousy dangerous. If we aren’t careful, we can get so caught up in what we can or can’t do compared to others, and halt our growth in anything we try to pursue. But everyone just says to not compare yourself. Let’s talk about why.
Different is good.
Everyone is at a different place in their lives. We can’t expect every person in the world to be at the same place in their journey. That would be like every book having the same plot. Or every song having the same lyrics. It would be boring and make growth impossible. There’s no one set path to take in life. Some might decide to go to med school and end up dropping out to pursue their passion for teaching. This doesn’t make them any less worthy or valid in their life path. How would society become educated with no teachers? What would the world become if we all pursued the same thing? The point is, everyone plays a different role, but it doesn’t make it bad. Comparison comes in with the belief that you aren’t good enough. But what exactly is “good?”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
If you’ve ever said or thought, “I look so ugly today” or “I wish I was better looking,” pause and consider: Is your definition of beauty the same as everyone else’s? I’ll answer that for you. No! It isn’t. “Good” and “bad” are completely subjective ideas that we have based our self-worth around. What one person defines as good, another can find terrible. Not everyone enjoys pizza despite it being one of the most popular foods in the world. And it’s the same with everything! Someone out there has thought the same thoughts about you without you knowing. You might be someone’s definition of beautiful, intelligent, or talented, when you think the opposite. And ultimately, everything is edited and viewed through filtered lenses, so comparing yourself to others achieves nothing but an injured self-esteem.
Comparison is the thief of joy-- and the thief of growth.
A couple years ago in my art class, my art teacher told us “comparison is the thief of joy.” At first I excused it as some inspirational quote that teachers post on their walls, but it really is the truth. The majority of my worst days are caused by my own expectations that I failed to meet. But who set these expectations? Nobody ever made a set book of rules to live by. It’s simply because of comparison, and not matching up to or exceeding my peers. And it’s not just me. It’s a trend in our generation to be the best, and to tear ourselves down if we somehow perceive that we aren’t. But being so preoccupied with where you are compared to others will damage your personal growth and improvement. Comparison is an illness and it’s killing our generation. We will never be able to reach our full potential being constantly weighed down by the idea of someone else’s life. Hopefully we can all try to remember this as we go throughout life and celebrate others’ victories as well as our own.
How do we rewire ourselves against comparison?
Here are a few tips that have helped me and others in dealing with comparison.
Gratitude and overall positive thinking – This may be an overused point. But it really works. The more we can appreciate what we have and focus on the good aspects of ourselves, the less we will get caught up in the net of comparison. A journal would be a great way to keep track of the positive aspects of your life, but if you can’t keep up with one like me… then just keeping a few comforting points in mind for whenever you feel like you’re starting to compare yourself would be a good way to combat it.
Understanding what you are seeing – Understanding that what you see in public, but especially in media, is highly filtered to reveal only the best parts of someone’s life, is vital to stopping a negative cycle of self esteem from comparison. Nothing is surface deep.
Celebrate others – As I mentioned earlier, celebrating others’ victories as well as our own is very important. Showing empathy, compassion, and kindness to others have all been shown to increase self esteem and improve mood. When we celebrate others’ successes instead of tearing them and ourselves down, it already greatly improves self confidence in both parties. Acknowledge their accomplishments. But also acknowledge that you are still working on your own!
Special thanks to guest contributor Lisa Yoon of The Young Writers Initiative.
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