Comparing Yourself To Others

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt


It’s the end of the summer. You’re back in the city and the school is about the start. You are in your favorite coffee shop with your friends catching up. Everyone is talking about their summer. One of your friends is talking about an internship they did over the summer that helped them make important industry connections. You spent most of your summer working as a waitress, and while it helped you make some money, it wasn’t exactly a step towards your dream job. Another friend is telling you about how she looked into her grad school options and she now knows what program she wants to apply to. You thought you wanted to give school a break after graduating and work for a while, but after hearing your friend talk passionately about her grad school plans, you aren’t so sure anymore. Maybe you want to do grad school after all? Your other friend tells that he decided to move back home at the end of this school year because he already has a job waiting for him. You realize you have no idea where you will be working, if you want to stay in the city or if you will be moving back home. After saying your goodbyes, you leave the coffee shop feeling completely drained and confused.

Do you remember the last time you compared your life to someone else’s? Maybe it was when you checked your Instagram feed and saw pictures of your friend’s tropical vacation. Or maybe it was after hearing your friend talk confidently about her future plans while you still remain undecided. Whatever it was, it probably made you feel as if your life paled in comparison.

The truth is, though, humans are social beings. As long as you exist, you will have friends and family members around you, and the vacation posts and work talks will never stop. While you can’t change these circumstances, you can always have control over how you react to them. Instead of squandering your own contentedness and getting stuck in the comparison trap forever, use these steps to take a step back and focus on what is good in your life:

1.Become aware of your triggers. 

In which situations do you compare yourself to others? Social media is a big trigger for most people. Is there a specific social context where you feel especially envious? Or maybe there is someone who constantly brags about their life.

Make a list of these situations and think about how each of them affects you in a negative way and why this is a waste of your time and energy. Catch yourself in the act next time you are in any of these situations, and stop yourself before it gets out of hand. Avoiding these triggers is not always a realistic goal, but changing your attitude and your point of view is in your hands.

2. Realize everyone is living their own life.

Think of the person you compare yourself to the most. It could be because you want the same things or have similar goals in life. Even if they seem to be closer to achieving those goals, you should know that it doesn’t matter in the end. After all, everyone has a different path in life. You are going to accomplish different things and end up at different places. Life is not a straight line – it is mostly what happens when you are busy making other plans for yourself. Sure, it’s always good to know where you are going, but the same path doesn’t take everyone to the same place. Who knows what will happen along the way? That is how opportunities present themselves to you. Everyone has a different place and future in life, and know that yours is waiting for you somewhere out there. There is no need to make the journey there unpleasant to yourself by comparing yourself to that person.

3. Count you blessings.

It may not always seem this way, but believe me, you have so much to be grateful for. Think of where you are right now. Are you in your room, on your bed? Start from there. You have an apartment you’re living in, and you are going to an amazing school. You have friends and family that care about you. You are healthy. Right there, you are successful compared to millions of other people who don’t have that. Your struggles and problems that you are going through is someone else’s dream. If you focus on being grateful for what’s good in your life instead of focusing on what it is lacking, you will be less vulnerable to envy and the trap of comparison. So whenever you feel yourself triggered and thinking “it is not enough,” stop and remind yourself to count your blessings. You will be surprised to see how much you have to be grateful for.


Remember that if you are comparing yourself to others, you are doing this to yourself. There is no one else telling you to be more like someone else. You are never going to be that person anyways. Instead, focus on who you are and what you do, and learn to take pride in those.



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