Why you need to stop comparing yourself to others RN
When was the last time you compared yourself with someone else?
Perhaps it was when you scrolled through your ex’s Instagram feed on the bus home from school. Or, when the cool girl in class confidently stood up to deliver an A grade presentation on the feminist movement. Maybe it was when you spotted Georgia in the year above sporting the new Michael Kors bag in town last Saturday.
And how did you feel afterwards? Probably not very positive, right? Because all we’re really looking for is a quick way to put ourselves down and focus on what we don’t have or what we can’t do. Self-deprecation is easy, free and the perfect excuse for putting on a pity party for one on a bad day.
Comparing our lives with friends, foes and total strangers is a totally normal thing to do – we ALL do it, regardless of our age, success and status.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of competition to keep us fired up. But it becomes a problem when constant comparisons start to get us down. Like many others, I first started to negatively notice how different other people’s lives are to my own when I started high school.
I went to a good school in an nice area, an hour’s bus journey away from the small town we lived in. I will always be incredibly grateful for the education I received and the friends I made, but it wasn’t without its low points. And those were the times when I compared my life with classmates’.
I was jealous of kids whose parents were still happy together, frustrated at never being able to go on the expensive school trips abroad, and angry at myself for not being the cleverest, the prettiest or the most confident. I was always a fashion trend behind on non-uniform day, I only had one boyfriend (which lasted for all of two days in Year Seven), and I felt like an outsider because I lived so far away.
Over the years, I slowly learnt to accept that we all have different lives, complete with unique paths of privileges and pitfalls.
I didn’t get the best grades in my year but they proved to be good enough to lead me into my dream job of being a writer. I didn’t have the fittest body but I did recently run a half marathon (so what if I nearly vomited half way around the course). And I didn’t have the catalogue-perfect family but I was brought up by a single mum who taught me the importance of being both tenacious and compassionate.
Sure, I still grow green with envy at my friends’ flawless selfies on Instagram, and massively critique myself after meeting a friend of a friend of a friend who is a trapeze artist and met her gorgeous BF on a beach in Bali. But then I remember all that I have achieved, the loving relationships I have in my life and the fact that, actually, I’m probably doing a lot better than I first thought.
And you probably are too! So, what can you do the next time you start worrying about how you compare to others?
Focus on you – Instead of thinking about what everyone else has, remember everything you have. Every evening, I mentally list three things that I am proud of achieving that day. If you can’t list three, it’s because you’re not giving yourself enough credit. Even something small like ‘did an awesome manicure on my talons’ counts (trust me, I have the unsightly chipped nail varnish to prove that this is a covetable skill).
Stop scrolling – Instagram is the worst offender for making us believe that everyone is living a perfect Valencia filtered life. Newsflash: they’re not! The next time you find yourself scrolling down to photos from 2008 on your ex boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s best friend’s sister’s account – log out, delete the app for a couple of days and meet up with a friend who makes you feel good about being you. You’re way too awesome to waste a Saturday morning staring at a phone screen and letting it dictate your happiness.
It’s pointless – Ask yourself ‘what’s the point?’. Is obsessing over Kate’s new adidas trainers going to put a pair on your feet? Will thinking about how great Claire is at netball make you any better at netball? Can coveting the many friendships of the popular girls group make any of your friendships better? No, they cannot. Think about these situations from a different perspective: Kate’s trainers will be old news as soon as the new Stan Smiths are released next week; Claire could be your amazing, new, FREE netball training coach; and having only a handful of friends means that you put 100% into making each one incredibly strong and special.
Jealousy is a trait that we’ll probably always have, no matter how zen the yogis out there claim to be. But if we identify the first twinges of it, take that as a sign to act on it and focus on the positives – we’ll have healthier brains, bigger smiles and a much more accurate picture of who we really are, without the fake Instagram filter.