Hello, friends! I hope you are all doing well. Today I wanted to talk about comparing ourselves to others. I wish I could say that I don’t do it, but I do, all the time. And about the absolute silliest things.
For example, I’ve been going to yoga a lot lately. I absolutely love it and I always feel so refreshed afterwards. However, I find that I’m comparing myself to everyone else in the class. Is their downward facing dog better than mine? Who’s the most flexible person in class? Who looks the best in their yoga clothes? I try to talk to my brain like I would talk to a small child. I tell myself that none of this is a competition, none of it! That I’m missing the point of yoga and that I just need to focus on my breathing instead. It’s so easy to become fixated on these things and then to use them to feel bad about ourselves. I’ll obsessively start thinking things like, “Are they a better writer than me?”, “Is their makeup better than mine?”, and, “Wow, they’re so good at this, I should probably just quit.”
My mom always tells this story about me from when I was a child and I think it sums me up even as an adult. I must have been fairly small, maybe five or six. And one day, out of the blue, I just start bawling because “I’m not as smart as my mom is”. My mom had to explain to me that she was older than I was, that she had lived more life than I had, and that these things didn’t mean that I was dumb. I get so sad thinking about little Mattie feeling that and then I realize that big Mattie feels that too. Only now there are more people in my life that I can compare myself to. Which isn’t only unfair to me, but it’s also unfair to them. Sometimes, when we become unhappy with ourselves and we begin to focus on our perceptions of others, we can become resentful towards them, when really, they’ve done nothing wrong at all.
Okay, say someone is better than you at something. So what? There are so many different factors when it comes to these things. How long have they been doing said thing? Is it their passion in life? Is it your passion? How long have you been doing it? If these questions aren’t able to alleviate your stress, there are other thoughts that can help.
There are so many things that we will do in our lives. Some because we have to, some because we want to, and some because we think we’ll be good at them. Here’s the secret to it all — you won’t be good at everything you try. This may sound sort of pessimistic, but honestly, once you allow yourself to believe this, it’s really quite freeing.
When I was still in high school, I remember thinking that one bad grade was the end of the world. I’d bring my report card home, usually crying, and show my dad. He would then give me a hug and he would ask me if I had done my best. And honestly, sometimes the answer was yes, but sometimes the answer was no.
This may sound like such a simple thing, but I want to share a realization that I didn’t come upon until about a year ago. I realized that sometimes I didn’t try my hardest because I was scared that my hardest wasn’t going to be good enough. Instead, I found that sometimes I was doing a bad job on purpose. If I rushed myself to do a paper and then proceeded to get a bad grade, then that’s not an accurate reflection on my intelligence, right? As a child, I was quite smart and didn’t have to put very much effort into school. As you get to college, things definitely change. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, you have to put in effort. And sometimes, you will put in all your effort and you will get a grade you’re not proud of. And maybe somebody who put in half the effort that you did will get a much better grade than you will. That’s just how life is. It doesn’t say anything bad about you. Just ask yourself if you did your best, if you did, that’s great! That’s all you can do! If you know in your heart of hearts that it wasn’t your best work, that’s okay, too. There’s always a next time. And a time after that. And a time after that.
I guess, in my long-winded way, all I wanted to say is: don’t compare yourself to others! All you can do in life is your personal best. And sometimes, your personal best is different than it is at other times. Life is full of variables, never forget that.
Thank you so much for reading! If nobody has said this to you today: I am proud of you!