Comparison is more than the thief of joy. It's the thief of our identity.
Let me explain. I got a promotion at work. I'm at a stable place financially. I have friends across the globe and ones nearby that I enjoy and enjoy spending time with me. I have a real relationship.
But the second I see someone with something that could be "better" than what I have, I feel it. The cracks in the foundation of who I think I am, spreading deeper into thoughts of, "Who should I be? What should I want?"
I compare myself to their successes and suddenly I think, "Do I even want what I have?They look so happy, maybe I need that *thing* too?"
Maybe I need that job, that workout, that way of eating, that religion, that city, that kind of pet, that kind of car, that story.
When we compare ourselves to other people and look for a sense of validation, we stop wanting to write our own story and we start copying theirs. It's like when you take a test in high school and you walk out feeling great, and then everyone is comparing answers and you're like, woah woah woah. I did not put a single Answer A down and aaaaall these fools did. Obviously in that case, all of them would be wrong (big dummies) but in real life, we see that someone answered differently to something with NO right answer, and we freak out.
I wonder how many copied versions of the same story are just floating around the internet. People that are "living their truth", but really they're living a truth that was true for someone else, so it could be true for them too right? Maybe? I'm not sure, my brain hurts thinking about all the lost identities and people just searching for someone to tell them who they are.
You can't enjoy where you're at if you're looking at where someone else is or what someone else is doing. You can't decide what you want if you're waiting for someone else to tell you.
Now, you could use comparison to decide how you want to show up in the world, I don't think it's always a bad thing. Comparing yourself to the KKK and thinking, "Hm, I don't think I want to be like them," isn't exactly a bad way to use comparison! But it's the little things that get us. The people that are similar enough but yet, seem SO much happier and SO much more <whatever>. THAT'S the comparison you have to watch out for. That's the kind of comparison that will make you question who you are in a really depressing, useless way.
All of that being said, the concept of self is very fluid, and that can be a GREAT thing! Time and life experiences have helped mold us into who we are; that's why a lot of us don't have the same exact interests we did at 7yrs old. Because "self", who we are in this very moment, is always changing. My favorite phrase right now is, "I am the oldest I've ever been and the youngest I'll ever be." It reminds me that whoever I am in this VERY moment or whatever I choose to do is the only thing defining me. No one else's life, just my own.
If comparing ourselves gives us ideas, makes us feel excited about trying something new or really confident in the choices we're already making, then DO IT, but if we're looking for someone else to validate us or mold us based on some idea of who we think we should be, then we're sorely mistaken. No one can (or should) do that but you.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to my newsletter so you can Join the Journey as I work and write about my goal to become a world-class fighter.