I’ve got this image printed out and it’s been on the wall above my desk for a few years now.
The fifth cardinal rule of life according to this random list is ‘don’t compare your life to others’. I think I’m pretty good at being self-assured most of the time. I’m definitely better now than I was when I was fifteen and I would get in such a state whenever someone I knew got a boyfriend and I hadn’t. These days I’m much better because I’ve come to recognise that everyone is at different stages and everyone’s on such different paths that it’s pretty much redundant to compare the two.
There are days, though, when you see or hear about how someone you know accomplished something amazing and you start thinking about how bland your life is compared to theirs.
“Oh, did you hear Tina’s living in Europe now?”
“Oh, cool, let me just go back to my house that’s not in Europe and die.”
This type of mindset is insidious because once you’re in it, it’s hard to get out. You start hating yourself because you’re not at at that level. At the end of the day, thinking like this doesn’t benefit you. Some people say comparison is good because it pushes you to be better. Yeah, buddy, only if it catches me on a good day. On other days it makes me want to give up on life. It’s 50/50 and I’d rather not have the latter feeling at all, thanks.
Obviously, changing this mindset isn’t as simple as telling someone ‘stop comparing yourself to others’ but for me personally, the best way to start is to take the energy and attention you’re focusing on others and turn it towards yourself. You’re the only person you can compare yourself to. You’re less awkward than you used to be 5 years ago? Awesome! You’re just a bit better at writing essays now in comparison to last year? Great! Your fashion sense is so much better than it used to be? Hell yeah! You have a job now and you didn’t last year? Fantastic! You know what has improved in your life and it’s important to look at that and recognise it for what it is.
Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you’re in a worse place than you were before. I think that’s where you can get motivation to get yourself to get back to where you were before. If you were at that level before, you can get there again. Obviously it’s different for everybody but this is the gist of it.
For me personally, I’m so much better at speaking to people now than I have ever been. When I was fifteen I could barely hold a conversation with people – even a year ago it wasn’t as good as it is now. It’s not great now but, I mean, at least I’m not afraid of speaking to strangers anymore. (It’s actually put me in predicaments but that’s for another blog post coming soon). It’s a pretty solid achievement for me.
For the opposite it’s that I’m not as good as a writer as I used to be. My peak was literally when I was fifteen (what is with this age?). I’ve read stuff that I wrote when I was around that age and it honestly hurts me how well I used to write. Like, what happened to me? Four years later, I’m still trying to get back to that level and it’s slow, man. There’s that but there’s also the fact that this is the fattest I’ve ever been, which is just great (/sarcasm). Compare me now to me 5 years ago – yikes. I’m also working on this albeit not as enthusiastically as I am my writing skills.
Comparing yourself to yourself is enough. When the thought of comparing yourself to someone else so much as enters your mind, shut it down immediately.