Why do we always compare ourselves to those ahead of us?

we measure ourselves against everyone

How often do we compare ourselves to others? In life, studies, career, earning potential, beauty, (yes ladies, this means clothing sizes too!), relationships… we have a tendency to compare our space in life with those around us as an evaluation of how ‘far’ we are in the ‘game of life’.
I think it’s a fairly normal part of life in a society that has a habit of measuring everything! From the steps you take on a daily basis (with our fancy technology that counts every move we make), to the money we can spend on things that other people can see and envy.

I find this SO often when I talk to students. No matter how far they are, it’s never enough! 🙂

Have you noticed though, that we always seem to compare ourselves to those who we perceive as further ahead of us?
This can motivate us to improve our lot in life, but it can also make us somewhat discouraged and constantly focussed on waiting for the future and the ‘better’ people we want to be somewhere then.

I’m guilty of this too. We can always find someone to envy, aspire to, wish to be. Dealing with students, however, gives me a reality check quite often. I can’t count the times I’ve thought to myself “I’m SO glad I’ve got all that behind me!”, “I’m so grateful that I’m not still studying!”. It also humbles me to hear my student’s stories. Their lives, circumstances, challenges and attitudes astound me.

Along the way, we have so many different accomplishments. Yet we ignore them when we have our eyes focussed on something in the future.
We need to take a step back, acknowledge our own accomplishments, and appreciate them.

we’re kinder to others than we are to ourselves

There will always be someone ahead of us, and someone behind us, on any journey. The question is, is their journey the same as yours? Is it really relevant to compare two people who have completely different journeys, paths and challenges?
We’re generally kinder to others than we are with ourselves. We can accept that things go right, and wrong, and people do the best they can in the circumstances they’re given.

So, why can we not accept that for ourselves?
The speed in which you achieve your goals seems to be really important, sometimes the MOST important thing, while you’re on that journey. Failing is NOT an option! In reality, there’s often a lot more to learn when things don’t go according to plan. What you learn, who your become, how you overcome those challenges, the decisions and choices you make. These are the things that add the most value to your life.

The person next to you, ahead of you or behind you, doesn’t have the same strengths and weaknesses. They don’t have the same life goals, challenges and opportunities. Sure, ONE of their goals may be the same (The studies or qualification), but their life, work, family and future goals are not the same.

look around. but for a different reason

When I started lecturing, those who were still on the path I had finished, I was a lot more humbled about my achievements and what I’d managed to overcome.

I was a lot more grateful when I realised how many people are on that journey, fighting their own fights, working towards their goals. Being part of their support system, helping others reach their goals, is way more fulfilling!

Looking behind you, around you, is far more valuable for you. Motivating those around you to strive for more.

Working smarter and encouraging eachother is so valuable for those around you, and you. Reaching out to those behind you and encouraging and supporting them. That’s valuable.

Making a difference to one person doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it’s a big deal to that one person.

How incredible is it to be responsible for helping someone to able to take even one step a little easier than they would have without that help or support?

Sometimes, the best way to fell better, is to forget about ourselves, and the rush, the need to succeed, and focus on someone else.

 
 
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2 Comments

  1. I am guilty as charged. I often look at how far with my studies against my peers who are doing so well , While I struggling to scrap pass. Today i learnt I shouldn’t benchmark myself rather accept everyone has different journey different challenges/ Hurdles.

  2. Shuuuu this is so true. Death to comparison! Comparison kills your own confidence and eats you up. Nobody really cares. Just get on with your business and help the younger students.

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