Lately, the topic of comparison has been on my mind. Comparison is such a dangerous game. I think about it in terms of going to the store for one type of fruit, only to walk up to what you came for, (the apples of course), and get caught up by the in-season peaches. Now you’re stumbling upon the most difficult question: which is better? Which do I want to walk out with? The answer: either would suffice. Both are yummy, healthy, and they would taste amazing…but take the game of comparison and apply it to something as complex as human personalities, and the game gets a bit more difficult to play.
In my experience, comparison goes two ways. The first way is comparing others to yourself; putting yourself on a pedestal and believing that you are better than others. Even some of the most self-conscious people tend to think they are better than others once-in-a-while. To overcome this obstacle everyone needs to realize that they are not perfect. I have recently come to the realization that I need to be more willing to accept criticism and listen to what others make reference to. I tend to get into moods where I put myself on a throne occasionally. Whether this is brought on by a really good hair day or earning an A on a test, these days do not cease to make an appearance. I like to compare these kinds of days like the idea of ethnocentrism in anthropology: where everyone thinks that there culture is superior to all the others. As Americans, we look down upon Canadians, Germans, and all others, because we believe we are best. However, realizing that you are not perfect, also means that you’re not any better than the person next to you. And this also means that you need to be willing to accept the criticism of others because if something is not perfect, that means that there is room for improvement. It is of course your decision as to what advice you take to heart, as not everything you hear should be absorbed. For instance, if your mother tells you that you’ve been very quick to anger lately, you should take that as constructive criticism that needs to be worked on. Although if an old friend who has found their worth in criticizing others tells you that you are acting conceited, you may want to brush that one aside. It is all about realizing who you value the opinion of and who you can trust to give you personal instructions. It is very crucial that we all learn to humble ourselves and be willing to listen to these instructions, because if you aren’t able to do so, that shows that you believe there is not any improvements that you can make on yourself. Hence, you have yourself on a pedestal, and you’re playing the dangerous game of comparison.
The second type of comparison is when you compare yourself to others; looking at the next person and only wishing that you had whatever it is that they have. But why? Nobody is perfect. Think about yourself for example. What have you gone through in your life? Think of all the hardships you have suffered through, and all the tough days that you have had, yet you still have a smile radiating off of your face 90% of the time. Do you think that most of your friends and family know of all those rough times that you have been through? Because they don’t. I was recently on this side of the comparison trap, holding my life up against the life of a friend of mine. I was feeling less than and unaccomplished against what it was she had going for her. My therapist reminded me of this: what is it that I have been going through the past year? Do I think many people know about my eating disorder and everything that I went through during it? My life probably seems great to those who weren’t aware of it, when in reality, I had been suffering. The same could be true for my friend. Your life, to outsiders, most likely seems as though it is a perfect picture. Everyone wants to appear strong and fearless, no one wants their weak sides to show. That is why you often do not see others struggling publicly. They do not want to appear in need of help from you or anyone else, but that does not mean they aren’t having a bad day. That does not mean that they might not be depressed, struggling in math class, having a migraine. They are not perfect, and neither are you. It may seem as though everyone around you has it all together, but the truth is is that we all struggle. We are all human, and that entails hardships. Living, breathing, they are accompanied by pain. It is just apart of life, one of the many factors.
So how exactly can we all exit this game that seems to be never ending? Whether that is always feeling better than others or always feel less than others? It is simple: Stop comparing yourself. Learn to love yourself and learn to love others. With this learning needs to come the realization that what happens to you or others does not affect the other.
You are beautiful.
You are imperfectly perfect.
You are unique.
You are loved.
You are worthy.
It is so crucial that you become best friends with who you are. You need to be able to look at yourself and know that you are wonderful but so is the girl next to you. Your beauty does not change hers, and her level of knowledge does not define yours. Everyone is their own person, we are all unique beings. We were created in this way by a God who loves us. He wrote in Psalm 139:13 that He knitted you together in your mother’s womb, that He formed your inward parts. We were all created separately to be separate. You are built to do different tasks, to look a different way, to be a different person than everyone else in this world. So how could you put yourself up against another and think it is an accurate comparison? Is it accurate to compare a tall, patterned giraffe with a short, plain hog? Absolutely not, and we are the same. (Although you are all beautiful like a swan or a gazelle…I would never compare anyone to a hog;-) But the point still remains: You are only as beautiful and smart and kind and wonderful and talented as you believe that you are, and that has nothing to do with anyone else; so believe in yourself, because you deserve your own love and support.