"Comparison is an act of violence against the self." Iyanla Vanzant
For people that live in a prolific society toting the ideals of individualism, bootstrap theory, or meritocracy we sure do find ourselves spending an exorbitant amount of time comparing ourselves to others. It's completely the antithesis of one of our most espoused values, and yet we are made to do so daily. Arguably, comparison is the root of much of our despair. We want things; we want to have what others have; we want to be like others because we compare ourselves to them. We think, why not me, instead of why am I where I am? It is a total disregard for our unique talents, experiences, and contributions to the world in favor of debilitating jealousy, intangible goals, and irrational aspirations. We circumvent the massive factors in play that give some people access to certain resources and opportunities, or the ability to do things that we cannot. Some people are set up for "success" (whatever that means) in ways that others are not. And that goes both ways. Comparison removes that crucial contextualization that makes it so that some people get to be who they are, and others do not but again also get to be who they are. Does that make sense? Do we understand that? We know we are most happy/at peace/successful etc. when we are being authentically us, but yet still we strive to be others. The ideology is there but the behaviors are diametrically opposed. What will it take for us to focus on ourselves internally instead of comparing ourselves to others externally?
Comparison steals our contentment, negates our gratitude, and radicalizes jealousy. It overshadows who we are, and ironically, the incomparable nature of said person. We are not meant to be compared. Our stories, our pathways, our mobilizations are all different. No two people are the same, so why then do we think ourselves to be so. We know this to be true conceptually, but in actuality we strive for sameness, we chase after the dreams of others, and we hold ourselves to impossible standards that are unattainable - well because we were not meant to attain them. We have to create our own waypoints to surpass, and find our own way - but most of all know that our way is just that our way; and there is not one way to go. Don't we get it? Don't we realize what we do? Don't we recognize the paradoxical dilemma we have placed ourselves in? It's one we can solve but only if we do diligent work to rationalize, turn comparison into admiration/appreciation, and practice patience. We can vilify the achievements, qualities, or realities of other without adding on an unnecessary self-deprecation. The self-defined success of others is not an indictment, critique, or judgment casting on our lives. If we do the same and construct our own definition of success instead of negating the non-existent universal societal one, then we once again command our story and take the input of external sources with a bit of warning. We find patience and can wait for our own appointed time, or get that some things may never be appointed for us at all. Comparison is not always negative - there are times where it can challenge us to push ourselves, can serve as a healthy gauge, and can standardize some of our experiences.
Choose for you. As often as a you are able, choose for you. And I mean choose for you in the now. It's the difference between deficit thinking in comparison versus positive perspectives on self-authorship and autonomy. The only people we can choose for, and choose correctly for, is ourselves. As much as we can, we should/must do our best to choose what is best for us. Choose what you makes happy. Choose what brings you joy, makes you smile, and lets you feel good. Choose what you want and what you need. Choose what brings you peace, lets you find you, and makes you nothing more than more you. Make choices not just for your future but also those that sustain you in the here and now. Foresight and planning are useful, but not if we don't make it there to begin with. Make the right choice for you, and you alone - we cannot choose for others.
How do we know what choices to make? Your body tells you what you need to know. Trust your impulses. If someone ask me if I want something, want to go somewhere, etc. and my first response is not an enthusiastic yes, then I know I don't want it. Hesitation for me says all I need to know. If I'm not excited or don't feel some sort of comfort about a decision then I know it's not right for me. Whatever instantaneously comes to my mind when asked a question, that is the answer I should go with. Essentially is the "think fast" idea of catching something being thrown at you, if you catch it great, if not, we'll live. We know what we want. We really do, we just often stop ourselves from communicating it for a multitude of reasons whether that be perceived or real persecution from others, self-doubt, etc. It is truly a process of getting to know yourself and trusting those answers. I am so quick to start to negotiate within myself, to make a choice that placates other people, or want to repackage my answer. More often than not, that first flash of answer is my truest answer. The candor, clarity, and passion behind it makes all the difference. Ever since I started saying yes to me, and no to others as I damn well pleased, my contentedness has been near constant. It is worth saying that listening to your most decisive self can be wonderful, but some decisions also require us to think, process, and be challenged. Again, if we're not being challenged, we're not learning or growing. I'm striving to strike a balance between both.
Social media is often the medium through which we find ourselves comparing our lives to others. And what I have to say is it is so important to interrogate why we care. Whether we know the people we are browsing or not, why do we pay them any attention? Why is their lifestyle an appraisal of ours? Why is their happiness an attack on our serenity? Why? It is not. It is us. It is our internalized antagonism. If we can't silence or at least quiet that internal monologue ourselves than doing away with our exacerbating factors can do the same. If there are toxic people that you follow, you just don't have to follow them. Quit them. Cold turkey. If people make you feel bad about who you are, where you are, or how you are - within reason - take their power away but removing their influence from your life. Remove the poison before it consumes you. Stop double tapping, swiping, reading, and internalizing messages that do nothing but detract from your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-actualization. And also turn that back on you, and question why you cannot be genuinely happy for other people if they are happy, well, and safe? If you cannot be sincere in your happiness for others, that is a you problem, and a serious one at that. Comparison is all about us wanting what others have that was never meant for us; we have to find our own meaning custom made just for us. X