Indian society was full of comparison. You grew up with it and it was drilled into you from a young age. ‘Look how hardworking the neighbour’s daughter is‘ or ‘Why can’t you get good marks like her?’ Even people you didn’t interact with on a regular basis would compare you when they met you ‘My niece got ___ in her school certificate. She’s going on to study medicine.’
You learnt to compare yourself to others on the basis of looks, intelligence, where you live, the stuff you have — everything. As a child you learnt that your self-worth was dependent on how others viewed you. It didn’t matter what you thought about yourself. It was all about how your qualities, abilities, achievements and acquisitions stacked up against your cousins, friends, neighbours and long-lost relatives you saw once in thirty years.
Sadly, this way of thinking becomes entrenched no matter how much you rebelled.
You only realise it when one day, in your thirties, it hits you that part of what is bringing you down is comparison. Except this time, no one else is doing it for you.
It’s when you notice how other women look more toned, fitter and healthier. And you wish you were the same.
It’s when you mentally tell yourself off for lacking self-control and eating that piece of chocolate when someone else you know would never have caved.
It’s noticing how someone else seems happier or more content in their work. Or how someone gets paid better than you do.
It’s when you notice people travelling around the world and wondering where you are going wrong as they have a mortgage too.
It’s making judgements of better lifestyles based on social media and wondering how your life resulted in the way it did.
It’s questioning all your choices and decisions and wondering if your life is good enough.
Before you know it, you are caught up in a web of discontent. Your self-worth, your life, your decisions — you have been basing them in comparison to others. And of course, you don’t measure up. Because you have always been comparing up. Comparing to what seems better. Comparing to potential illusions.
In short bursts of clarity, you realise your own stupidity. You remember what you hated about being compared. You are saddened by the fact that you do it automatically.
Comparisons don’t make anyone happy. You either loathe yourself when you compare up or feel smug and self-satisfied when you compare down. Maybe reminding yourself of that again in your thirties is okay.
After all, it’s never too late to re-learn how to think.
Do you compare yourself to others? If so, how do you stop or how did you grow out of it?
Until next time,