One of the most humanely annoying things we do is compare ourselves to others. It’s like even when we consciously try not to, we can’t help it. We start thinking “How can he bench more than me?” or “We’re using the same makeup, why doesn’t my face look like that?” or even “He got a 1st in this exam and I got a 2:1, I’m definitely an idiot”. I’m sure you feel like what I’m about to say you’ve heard all before and if you’re anything like me you hate people repeating themselves, but there are always exceptions to the rule – so make this blog post one of them.
Comparing physical attributes is actually the dumbest thing we humans do. Unless you have the same genetic makeup as someone (shalla to all the identical twins out there) you will not and never look like someone else no matter how much cosmetic surgery you undergo, how many reps you do or how many products you buy. Don’t get me wrong it’s annoying that you may never have a bum as big as Kim K or, if you’re female, bulk as fast as your male counterparts but you gotta realise it’s just not in your genes. When it comes to comparing physical attributes, the best person to compare you to is yourself. It’s all about being a better version of you, that’s why progress photos are a great tool. If your eyeshadow game is weak right now, take a picture of your current state then put in the work. (YouTube is a great tool –Jennie Jenkins, Carli Bybel, Uchjn and EatSleepShop are great channels to check out on how to blend to perfection.) In a month’s time, take another picture of your eyeshadow and compare your then photo to your now photo. That cut crease is getting better right?
It’s not just physical, I feel in education we compare ourselves a lot. The book I’m reading ‘David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell’ states an anecdote of young lady being a high achiever in Chemistry in her sixth form/college made up of mediocre achieving students. She then progressed to a university of a high calibre, such as Oxford, where she took a module called Organic Chemistry and suddenly became a mediocre achiever in a pool of extremely high achievers. She ended up dropping out of her course completely due to that one module, as she lost all self-belief in her intelligence. Why? Well because she was comparing her weakness to another individual’s strength. This is a big no no, it’s like me comparing my football knowledge to that of my brothers who bang Fifa every day and live for Sky Sports news – of course I’ll look like an idiot. I will say, for some, comparison can be motivational. A bit of rivalry can push you to be better but there is a fine line and be careful you don’t cross it and end up even more demotivated than you started with.
If you’re African and more specifically Nigerian like me, I partially blame our culture. When you’re younger its literally everyday comparison. If you say something that your parents will obviously class as rude despite your intentions, you’ll most likely hear “Does Yemi talk to her parents like that? Of course not”. Or if you get a B in an exam “How can John be getting A’s and you be getting B’s; does John have 2 heads?” Now while this underhand encouragement to be the best is great, it’s really not every day compare. Whilst Yemi comes across as a pleasant young girl when greeting you aunty and uncle, she’s got the foulest mouth when on road. And whilst John is getting A’s in every subject, he’s also a massive cocaine user to keep him awake to study for those extra hours. Point is, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And until you know someone’s full story, traits, strengths and weaknesses then there is no point comparing yourself to them. You are running your own race and will be judged on what you do, not how you did in comparison to another.
Remember: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ – Theodore Roosevelt