A Lesson in Comparing Yourself


When we learn not to compare ourselves with others, we free up the time and the space to focus on ourselves and think about how we can improve as individuals.

Matthew McFadden, Staff Writer

“I’m not good enough.”  That one, crippling thought often plagues my mind, popping up unannounced, like weeds shooting through a patch of vivid dandelions.  This happens every time I try to write fiction.  For example, I once spent four months writing a short story of only a few thousand words, and I spent most of that time putting myself and my writing down and giving myself writer’s block, as my mind would shoot down an idea before it even had a chance to breathe.

I still struggle, right now, as I write this story on a boring, dreary, barely-even-snow day while I try to keep my thoughts from discouraging me.  Each sentence takes minutes to form, as I try to mold my ideas into sentences, yet I fail because the perfectionistic tendencies inside of me will only accept the best.  However, this “best” is not my best.  It is the best of others, others who are more inclined towards writing, others who seem to be able to construct the most gorgeous sentence in an instant.

I compare myself to these unrealistic expectations, forgetting that each person has different strengths, and I tear myself down whenever I fail to meet these extreme standards that I set for my work.  I do this in so much more than writing, however: music, friendships, general social interaction.  I compare so many aspects of myself to the abilities of other people that I sometimes even bar myself from improving.

That needs to change.  When we compare the bad parts of ourselves to the good parts of others, we think much less of ourselves than we deserve to.  Instead, we should focus on ourselves as individuals and realize that we exhibit our own strengths, as well as our own weaknesses.

I believe that, through this realization, we will finally be able to enjoy, take pride in, and improve upon what we do without the constant self-doubt dominating our minds and keeping us from ending each day happy and satisfied.