Updated: Sep 27
By Natalie Luci
Image courtesy of NSF Blogger
We’ve all been there before. It is especially tough when you enter an environment like college where it is easy to feel insecure, inferior and insignificant. You begin to think “What makes me special? How am I any better than the girl sitting next to me?” You start to realize that there are people out there who are prettier than you, smarter than you, thinner than you, more popular than you, etc. And that pep-talk from your mom just isn’t cutting it anymore. Don’t worry, because you’re not alone. Comparison is a toxic act and a thief of joy- but you don’t have to let it capture your happiness.
I’m sure you’ve had the conversation before about how social media and comparing ourselves to what we see on our feeds can be detrimental. Everyone brings up supermodels or the Kardashians, but what we all truly do is compare ourselves to the people right next to us. The lifter at the rec with the smaller waist, the brunette in your astronomy class who knows the answer to every question asked, or the girl at Brick who seems to grab every guys’ attention as she walks through the door. We seem to find a constant reminder of what we don’t have in every person that crosses our path. “She gets better grades than me, everyone likes him, her style is so much better than mine…” It’s a never ending cycle.
The resistance to slip into this behavior is oftentimes undeniable. Alfred Alder said “to be human is to have inferiority feelings.” Our society can’t help it; it is what makes us human. These comparisons can absolutely deteriorate our self-esteem and self-confidence, making it nearly impossible to accept ourselves and feel proud of who we are made to be.
Image courtesy of Journey of Young Women
When we look at something like the self-discrepancy theory, it appears that we are all stuck in a limbo of different self-representations: how we actually are, how we would like to be, and how we think we should be in the society we live in (Nursing Times). These feelings can cause sleeplessness, low energy levels, poor eating habits, sadness, jealousy, and low self-worth. It disables you from whole-heartedly discovering yourself and appreciating who you want to be. You can’t work on the person you look at in the mirror when your gaze is constantly on the person next to you.
The good news is, even if you can’t control having these thoughts, you can control how they impact you and your life. Recognizing these thought patterns that you have and counteracting them with different thoughts and mantras will allow you to change your mindset. Listening to podcasts, reading self-help books, or following influencers that support the ideas of loving yourself and appreciating uniqueness are all options that can assist you in that change. Don’t let comparison consume you. Be content with who you are and where you’re going.
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just looms.” (Zen Shin)
By Jen Sincero With Brene Brown