Stopping Comparison in its Tracks

Anna-Catherine Kueng- Assistant Editor~

comparison

There is a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and while I am sure there are ways to argue against it, I hold the quote to be true. This idea of losing yourself while trying to be like others is one that is echoed in all facets of life: school, fitness, work, relationships…you name it and comparison is likely present.  

I am guilty when it comes to comparing myself to others, which is something people will not always admit. It can be embarrassing to reveal weaknesses about yourself, especially when you already feel like you are in competition with those around you.

The comparison trap can be fallen into from an early age and keep you ensnared throughout life. At first, it may be something as simple as preschool children wanting their classmates’ toys. This problem may seem trivial and can easily be corrected by a teacher introducing what it means to share; but, as children grow older, comparison begins to carry more weight.

As a middle school student, you might want someone’s relationship or popularity. I remember in seventh grade, all I wanted was straight hair. I envied girls whose hair was not frizzy and wavy, so I purchased a flat iron to try to attain the same look. Due to my lack of knowledge of heat protectant spray, I ended up damaging my hair and messing up the natural waves that I should have appreciated in the first place.

I wish the negative consequence from trying to be anyone other than me would have stopped me from continuing to compare myself to others, but that was not the case. It is easy to focus on our shortcomings but hard to focus on the good that we already have in our lives.

The truth is, you do fall short in some ways. You may have aced a test with a 95, but there will likely be someone who got a perfect score. You may have saved up money to buy a decent car, but then you see someone with a brand new car, and you start to doubt if yours really is as great as you thought. You might think you have a nice body, but then you see someone who is skinnier than you, or more muscular than you, and you begin to question your fitness level. You will fall short because you are human; but the thing is, all of the people you are comparing yourself to also fall short in different ways. Yet, there are still so many beautiful qualities we have that we are incapable of seeing because we are too busy focusing on what we lack.

Comparing yourself to others not only hurts you, but it hurts the people you are envying. Why do we, as humans, put other humans on pedestals instead of getting to know them? Do our lights get dimmer because someone else’s light is shining too? You would say of course not, but that is how we treat each other.

That is why to stop comparison, we must get to know people and give ourselves grace. If we develop relationships with people who seem to be our competition, we will learn that they are awesome but they still need reassurance and love just like ourselves.

Comparison can suck the joy right out our lives and it is a temptation that is always present; yet, we do not have to let it win. We can crawl out of the comparison trap and embrace ourselves and others just as we are. There will always be people who are better than you in different ways, but they will never be you. You are unique, you have a lot to offer the world, and you are worthy of love just like everyone else.