It is hard not to compare with others. We each look at our lives and the lives of others and complete a kind of mental checklist about how we compare. Social media has amplified this for many of us, as it provides greater insight into people’s everyday lives than we have ever had before.
But when we compare ourselves with others, we underestimate our own capabilities and undermine our personal self-belief.
My friend Susie*
Let me tell you about Susie*. I have known Susie a long time – long enough to know her childhood story and who she was as a teenager and young adult. We connected on social media and I watched her journey as she followed her dreams and her passion and became the person she wanted to be.
But I found myself comparing my life to hers. We had travelled different paths as adults, but I kept comparing the person I had become to the person she appeared to be.
And I felt small.
I felt like nothing I did measured up.
I wasn’t popular enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. She had achieved all these things and I was struggling to get through my day. I felt like I was always ten steps behind.
I took a breath and unfriended her.
Now I am no longer faced with her glossy version of a life, that is nothing like mine (I am sure her real life is not as glamourous as her Insta story makes it appear!) And I can remind myself of all the amazing things I have done and how my choices have led me to where I am today.
Your choices, your success
We each have a story to tell. For some, this will mean travelling the world, studying their PhD or raising their children. We each have to make our own choices based on our circumstances and the resources we have available to us. Choose to study your doctorate, and you may forgo having children until later (if at all). If you seek to travel the world, you might not want to settle down and buy a house.
When we get caught up in comparing ourselves with others, we lose our sense of who we are. We being to make choices to ‘catch up’. Our attempts to bridge the gap between what we have and what we think our life should look like. We create a wall of shame around the way we think about our own life. This shame erodes our sense of agency. It undermines our ability to build our resilience and to seek the resources we need to be successful.
Be mindful of the moments when you feel small. Accept that there will be times you feel not good enough, you haven’t achieved enough or are simply not enough. What are the things that you do have or have achieved? And how do they help you make positive choices toward your own definition of success?
Your choices shape your life, but they do not diminish who you are. Your personal success is determined by making choices that are right for you, at the time you make them.
Don’t compare your everyday to someone’s best day. Make positive, empowered choices and find your own definition of personal success.