Good morning everyone!
I have a feeling that in some point during each day of your life, you compare yourself to those around you. I know this because it’s natural, and we all do it. Sometimes subconsciously, sometimes consciously, sometimes in a positive light, sometimes in a negative light; whatever the situation is, you’re going to make self-comparisons. I’ve always been a bit shy and unsure of myself/my decisions, so I’ve often turned to others for inspiration- this can be motivating and helpful sometimes, but it also leads to a lot of negative self-talk. Lately, I’ve felt the need to address why this is detrimental to our mental health, and why it’s important to be aware of the comparisons you are making.
Especially in high school, when everyone’s trying to find their footing and situations can vary greatly between peers, it’s easy to look around and compare yourself. It could be something simple, like seeing someone else’s outfit and wishing yours was as cute as their’s, but it could also be a lot more serious- like seeing someone who’s super involved in school and has started their own business, and thinking since you don’t have those achievements, you’re less of a person than them.
As a nerdy, anxious, overthinking student, I’ve spent many hours watching YouTube videos, reading Reddit/College Confidential/Quora threads regarding how to be successful in high school and therefore get into a good college. Sometimes the advice was helpful (it’s great that there are FREE online resources like these if you don’t have anyone else around you to educate you on college admissions), but more often than not, it just left me feeling horrible and unaccomplished. My friends would tell me to “just stop watching” if they made me feel that way about myself, but I somehow couldn’t- I was addicted to comparing myself to others.
Somehow I thought that by hearing about these amazing, successful students, I would magically transform into one. Surprise, surprise- the only thing I got out of it was diminished self-worth and the realization I’d wasted hours I could’ve spent with friends or actually DOING some of the activities those superstar kids had done. The damage was done, so it would be worse to dwell on it… but what was I supposed to do now?
I’ll admit, I will still sometimes click on a YouTube video highlighting someone’s stats, or go on one of the aforementioned websites if I have a specific question/topic in mind that I need information on. The key difference is I stopped ACTUALLY comparing myself to these online profiles of people I knew nothing about; I now go in already knowing to take the information with a grain of salt, and I make sure to reassure myself of my own accomplishments (even if I still don’t think I have much).
It’s okay to admire those around you, and you obviously still will! Like I said, the key difference is making sure the admiration doesn’t reflect inward onto you feeling inferior. Accept that you’ll never understand how some people do what they do, and that everyone has their strengths. I know it’s hard, but you just have to tell yourself you’re already on track to find your “thing”; I mean, it’s true! The right path for you is out there somewhere, and by thinking about it, you’re halfway there to finding it. No comparison necessary 🙂