Why You Should Compare Yourself to Others
Ok, before you get up on your high horse to tell me how wrong I am and how very unhealthy it is to compare myself to other people and how I should only be trying to be better than the me I was yesterday, let me stop you.
I get what you’re saying. I get why it can be so unhealthy and unproductive to compare my accomplishments to someone else’s. There will always be someone out there better, smarter, prettier, more accomplished, more creative, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah. I get it. It sets a person up to feel shitty about themselves. To feel like they’re never enough. Totally. No one wants that.
But what if comparing ourselves to other people didn’t have to make us feel that way? What if comparing myself to someone I greatly admire and respect actually inspires me to be better and scrappier and more than I was before? I think it all comes down to how you look at it.
I used to be excruciatingly hard on myself and thought that everything I did or tried to do was crap. I had zero self-confidence and believed to my core that I had nothing unique or valuable to offer the world. I constantly compared myself to others and all the magnificent things they were doing that I didn’t think I could ever do.
That’s why it took me so long to get into writing. I read a lot. I am always reading something. And there are so many talented as fuck writers out there who are wildly adept at expressing themselves beautifully and articulately. And then there’s me. This beginner who has all these colorful, interesting thoughts and ideas tumbling around in her brain, but ends up writing things like ‘I like stuff’ when trying to get it on paper.
So why would I bother writing if I sucked? Why would I make a fool out of myself doing this thing that so many other people are kicking ass at? I’m never going to be that good. Every written creation I churn out is sooooooooo damn far from what it has the potential to be. It’s always missing that thing. That depth, that substance, that authentic me.
And so yea, comparing myself to all these incredibly gifted and talented writers just made me want to gather everything I’ve ever written, make a nice little pile of it in the backyard, and set the motherfucker on fire. Not terribly healthy or productive.
So I decided to quit looking at everyone else and what they were doing and write for the hell of it. Without hope or expectation, just for the sheer joy of writing. And that was a really important step for me. I also worked on other areas of my life where I felt like less than everyone else. Where I lacked confidence. Where I was insecure.
And while I don’t always feel like a rockstar, I certainly love myself a lot more than I ever did and truly, to the depth of my being feel that I have something important to say and want to spend the rest of my life trying to say it in a way that is genuine and reflects who I am.
Since getting to this exciting new place of self acceptance and self confidence something somewhat magical has happened. I rarely, if ever, find myself feeling like less than anyone. I no longer feel threatened by anyone else’s accomplishments. In fact, I really, truly enjoy watching other people do amazing shit with their lives.
The thing is, sometimes I’m a bit too easy on myself when it comes to how hard I’m working towards my goals and how far outside my comfort zone I’m going. I’ll tell myself little lies about my progress and give myself pats on the back when in truth, I don’t really deserve it. And I used to get away with it until I started surrounding myself with all these fantastic people who are going balls to the wall, stopping at nothing to see their wildest dreams fulfilled.
Seeing them face their fears and doubts and get up day after day to fight and sweat and cry for these extraordinary lives makes me look at what I’m doing (or not doing) and stop making excuses about why I’m not giving it everything I’ve got. And when I see the quality of the work they’re turning out, rather than allow it to make me feel like a big fat failure in my feeble attempts at creative genius, I am inspired to keep at it. To keep practicing. To keep trying. To keep learning.
So if you find yourself looking at other people and what they’re doing and looking at yourself and what you’re doing and basically feeling like a waste of space in comparison, ask yourself why. Chances are you’re coming at it from a place of insecurity and self-doubt. Don’t get me wrong, we all have those moments and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you notice it happening more often than not, it’s time to tell those insecurities to go fuck themselves. Because let me tell you, there is no one as you as you are and you absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, have so much stuff of value to add to this crazy world.
If you were waiting for someone to come along and tell you that, well, I just did. So you’ve got no excuse now. You’ve been told. And I’m not bullshitting you. And I don’t care what your circumstances are or where you’ve come from, you have what it takes to do this.
Seek out the envelope pushers and the go getters. Surround yourself with them. Compare yourself to them and ask yourself if you’re really putting it all out there like they are. Be inspired and motivated by them. Celebrate their successes and allow yourself to be challenged by them. But do it from a place of self love and self worth. If you need a bit of a boost in that area, hop over to this post and this post.
At the end of the day, you’ve only got one shot at this. Yea, I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Haven’t we all. Bleh. But instead of rolling your eyes and thinking, ‘No shit’, take a second to really think about that. Maybe spend some time meditating on that. One fucking shot. It’s time to go all in.