the Thief of Joy

talk

I don’t think I’m the only person who does this on a daily basis: compare myself to others. Or rather, allow myself to feel inferior compared to others. With how easy it is to take a peek into another person’s life nowadays via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other forms of social media, I’m pretty sure most of us suffer from this terrible affliction of looking at another person and coveting what they have.

I find myself gravitating to comparing ‘me’ to other people that are kinda similar to myself, be it former classmates, current coursemates or even people I have never met who have a few things in common. I see these other people who appear to be doing so much better and I simply crumble under the repeated blows to my self-esteem. “They’re studying the same thing I am, how can they have time to do ____? They’re able to balance studies, relationships, time with friends out of class yet I’m barely keeping up.”

Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this. I get so self-conscious when I see how put together other people are when I’m scrambling to make things work in my life. How does one stop this endless spiral?

I think one of the steps is putting things into perspective. All we get from what we see in pictures or hear are all snapshots in a person’s life. We may not see it but they’re probably having a crappy day, too. By seeing all their happy shots of good times, we don’t necessarily get an insight into their struggles. People do break down on the inside but they get pretty good at hiding it behind fake smiles. Heck, people might think you’re put together too, you just don’t know it. I love it when the bloggers I follow write about their insecurities because it helps me remember that they’re normal, they’re fallible.

If you’re following someone on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook that really gets you down because you compare yourself to this person so much, STOP scrolling. Detach yourself from that form of social media. Avoid being bombarded with images that only make you upset. Taking a break from being ‘so connected’ to the world may even help you feel better, allowing time for ‘offline’ activities that make you feel good ie: exercising, reading a book, taking a walk.

Recognise your own strengths. I admit that I too, look at other girls and wished I looked more like ___.  I can’t quite remember where I read this but it’s recommended that instead of looking in the mirror and identifying your ‘problem areas’, we should learn to celebrate the parts of us that are unique or that we love. For example, you may have great hair or beautiful eyes or great arms. Focus on the beautiful instead of what you feel you’re lacking. This should also be applied to your mind, apart from your physicality. You may admire this person’s ability to stay up for hours to study but you forget that you’re better at prioritising tasks. Think of what you do best and celebrate that.

Lastly, instead of envying these people and comparing ourselves to them, we need to learn to celebrate their gifts, their talents. Heck, we can use it as motivation to better ourselves. Comparison is only bad when we use it as a form of destruction to our well-being. Admiring a certain characteristic in a person does not mean we should pick at our own faults. Everyone has strengths, everyone has weaknesses. By learning to accept that, we can learn to stop being the green-eyed monster.

Maybe a step we can take is to help boost the spirits of those around us. Take time and tell your best friends one thing that you like about them, something you admire in them. It may be hard for us to see the good in ourselves but it’s so much easier to remind others about the good in them.

Remember, you’re the only version of yourself there is. No one you compare yourself to has walked in the same shoes you have all their life. You’re unique, you’re special and you are talented. Learn to see that in yourself.

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