Comparison is the thief of joy. I had to Google that to make sure it was an actual saying (I love a mixed metaphor). Turns out it is, and it was ol’ Teddy Roosevelt who made it famous. In my experience, it isn’t far from the truth.
Plenty of everyday occurrences can trigger negative self-comparisons but there are a handful of special events every year that really haunt me.
An example. The Golden Globes or Oscars when a 15 year old’s breakthrough performance is so spine tinglingly good that they have all of Hollywood on their feet.
Or, every Aussie’s favourite summer event, the Australian Open. Every year a freshly-minted tennis wunderkind steps onto the court, and invariably, our collective heart, dazzling the Australian population with their ball handling skills.
And for a more recent dose of comparisonitis you need not look further than the recent Commonwealth Games. I’m pretty sure the youngest contestant was 11.
Cue quarter(ish) life crisis.
These young people, in all their shiny, glorious success leave me questioning why I’m not yet at the top of my game.
It’s often said that we spend our time comparing our inner struggles with other people’s highlight reel. This is no exception.
When I start doing the painful, unfair comparison thing to myself, I am not thinking about the grueling hours that the has gone into honing one’s skills. I’m not thinking about the carefree childhood I enjoyed that they likely have forgone.
On a logical level it makes no sense to compare myself to others whose successes and struggles I know so little of. But on an emotional level, it’s hard to ease up on that internal pressure. On a habit solidified over many years.
Comparisons, of course, do not limit themselves to the realm of celebrity.
I often catch myself drawing comparisons to plenty of everyday humans. Colleagues. People I see at bus stops. And yeah, friends and family, you’re not immune either.
Occasionally, after a tough day, I might lament (ahem, whine) to my partner that I’m worried someone is judging me because I don’t measure up. And he’s literally like “Who are these people that you think are spending their time thinking about you?” And he’s right. In that moment, it seems silly.
And then I think about all the times my highlight reel tells a very different story from my personal life. The times when I’m on a beach holiday…but I’m actually working. The times someone compliments my clear skin…but my eczema is wreaking havoc on literally every inch of my skin outside of my face. The times when I visit cool places, attend parties, hang out with interesting people…but really I don’t know anyone, I’m feeling self-conscious and I really could do with some alone time, and maybe a nap.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that comparison is the thief of joy. Oh wait, I led with that. But it still stands. There’s nothing to gain by placing unreasonable, unrealistic and nonsensical pressures on ourselves to measure up to anyone else. We’re all positively unique and we’re all finding our own twisty, turny way in life the best way we know how.
So let’s agree that we’ll leave all that BS, all the negative self-talk, in the past. Give ourselves a hall pass to just enjoy where we’re at.
Do you ever catch yourself comparing your self to others? How do you get deal with it?