It's a very common thing to compare ourselves to other people. After all, all measurement is relative. I'm tall, compared to my friend Maya, or my brother, Spacey, but I'm tiny compared to a mountain.
The truth is I'm 74.5 inches tall. That's neither good nor bad. It just is. There are advantages and disadvantages to my height.
Here's the thing though - I find that in terms of our worth and happiness people are incomparable. That's not to say that you can't compare things about yourself and your life to others, you certainly can. But what do you get out of it?
Mostly, you get misery, I think.
Just like silent e, I think comparisons come with an unspoken "should" after them.
° I'm not as skinny as that guy...and I should be
° I don't have the money/thing/job/relationship/status that "they" have...and I should
° He doesn't do/think/act like I do...and he should
I won't say that sort of thinking is outright wrong. Rather, I think it's sub-optimal. It's inefficient, and possibly ill-informed.
I see this in my own life all the time. Some examples:
Spacey and I are both runners. He's way faster than me, and I think pushes himself harder than I do. That used to really bum me out. No matter how much I wanted to be as fast as him, or have that fire to push myself physically to the degree he does, I just don't.
But that doesn't matter. Because the truth is I AM a runner. I've run three half marathons, and many other races too. When I'm actively engaged in it, I'm a strong runner, with a good pace. I've lost weight doing it, and more importantly I ENJOY it. All the things about running which matter to me have almost nothing to do with other people.
Here's another. Spacey and I have been doing the Big Little Podcast for three years now, and since then some other ageplay podcasts have come and gone. When they do, I listen with a critical ear. I'll find myself mentally using red pen on other podcasters' stuff. Constructive criticism is one thing, but this is more negative. "Oh wow, that's terrible", or "and that's why we never do THAT". It's ugly. Mostly I keep it to myself. But when I really think about it, I'm glad other folks get out there and do this stuff. Every other podcaster out there increases the field. We all learn from one another, from our victories, and our mistakes. As Spacey says, a rising tide lifts all ships.
The reason this is my gratitude today is that I see what happens when I catch myself in the middle of such comparisons, and stop.
I feel free.
Just this morning I was feeling sort of shitty about making almost no progress whatsoever on a development side project of mine I had planned to do this summer.
I was comparing myself to Spacey, who is at a technical boot camp. He's been doing amazing work there.
Here's the thing: that's what he does like 12 hours a day. He quit his job and flew across the country to do it.
Meanwhile, I moved, started a new job, have a life coaching practice, too.
This doesn't mean I can't get that project going. It doesn't mean I can do it as fast or as well as brother is doing his.
Our circumstances are different.
Our knowledge is different.
Our aptitudes are different.
It's NONSENSE for me to compare myself to him.
I've been torturing myself about this for a few months now. What got me started seeing that it was a fruitless endeavor (the comparison, not the project!) was a friend on twitter. They get caught up in "comparison fever" all the time. I see them tweet about how envious they are of others, how if they only had certain things in their life, they could finally be happy.
I found myself at times pitying, empathising, wanting to help, and then, unwittingly and ironically comparing myself to them.
This morning I let myself stop. I'm grateful I can choose not to compare myself to others.