Comparison: A consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people.
Comparison: A detrimental realisation that everyone is looking better than you, achieving more than you and potentially doing it all on purpose to spite you.
I know which definition I tend to sway towards.
I would love to blame comparison on social media, on Instagram the platform which enables the exhibition of all great achievements. But, alas, I cannot. Before Instagram there was Facebook. Before Facebook there were phone calls. Before Phone calls there were announcements in the paper. Before the paper there were pigeons and before pigeons there were shelves in people’s caves. (This is an extremely rough timetable, don’t cite me on it.)
It seems to be human nature, to not only want to announce our achievements and the aspects of our lives which we think define us but, to compare our own with other people’s. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. I find this extremely harmful. Not only to my self esteem but to my rationalisation.
When comparing myself to others, I lose all sense of context. I forget all of the different factors that have contributed to the comparative stages of life. I forget that there are things that I don’t know about this person. I forget that it would be physically impossible for me to ‘be them’ no matter how hard I try. Leaving me with only the knowledge of what they are good for, and what I am not.
Most importantly I forget that comparison in this form is completely useless. I am not looking for a good car insurance or a cheap flight to Spain.
You could argue that it could spur you on, induce a need to achieve more or change the aspects of your life that you are unhappy with. If the reason for this however, is to be the same as someone else, or to be ‘better’ than them, then your motive is surely flawed? It is far too tempting in this era of social media to base your successes off of other people’s. But, we all know how PB’s work, you could lose a race but still beat your own personal best. That’s how I want to start rating my life, on my own achievements and not that of other people.
I have done the opposite for far too long. I have looked at friends getting into drama school, or getting jobs in the industry that I yearn for and felt nothing but jealousy and a need to self-deprecate. When of course I should be feeling proud and elated. I have seen my ex’s new girlfriend and compared our physical attributes. I have sat next to a classmate when we have both got graded work back and thought more about their mark than my own. I have looked at my choice of food in a restaurant in comparison to a friends and been embarrassed of the mass of beige, even though all I fancied was chips on chips on bread. I compare my taste in music, my split ends, the size of my feet, the size of my stomach, the size of my boobs, my taste in men, my work experience, my parents, my house, my clothes, my knowledge, my vocabulary, my physical possessions, my driving, my sense of humour, the amount of spots on my face etc etc etc.
It’s not constant. But, occasionally I have an incessant need to compare every aspect of my life to someone or something else. Why? God knows I don’t enjoy it and it makes me feel unbelievably inadequate. So why? With all of the knowledge of how it makes me feel, do I continue to use comparison as a good gage of how my life is going?
Yes, I would love to blame Instagram. I would love to say, that’s all it is, it’s Instagram and how it shoves constant images of perfection down my throat and enables me to only show the good parts of my life. But it’s not Instagram. As I said, Instagram is not the beginning of comparison. I compare myself, in all of these aspects of my life, because it personifies what I already know or feel. It’s a viscous circle of insecurities. The more insecure I feel about an aspect of myself or my life, the more I notice it in other people. The parts of myself that I am content with, I do not glorify in other people. The parts of my life that I am the culprit of parading around and showing off, I do not compare to others.
The more I learn about how to cope with the cliched ‘stresses of modern life’ the more I realise that the wanky proverb is true. The answer is often within yourself. When I catch myself entering an aspect of my life into the search bar of a comparison website I just stop and ask why?
All that you can do is your personal best, comparison to yourself is far less detrimental, just always remember the context…
Just because I fit into age 13 jeans at age 13, doesn’t mean that I should now.