Last weekend, one of my BFF’s sent our group a photo taken back in 1987. When I first looked at the photo my feeling was gratitude- the four of us are still in pretty constant contact with one another (text chains- long, amazing, gratifying text chains). But my second thought was to compare 1987 me with 2020 me…

Yeah- that’s not a good road to go down.

So I quickly realigned my thoughts to the good, happy, these are my friends for life thoughts…

Alas, the thought of me and my younger days brought about another thought: A few years ago, another college pal, a guy asked me:

“Back in the day were you upset that your best friend was super attractive and all the guys liked her?’

My best friend was, and still is super attractive. And she has about the best personality- fun and adventurous and really the best college best friend possible, as well as lifelong friend.

But essentially, my friend was asking if I was envious of having a great looking friend.

Which means, did I often compare myself to her.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

As many stated yesterday, people compare themselves to others. We just do it: it’s human nature.

But…

How quickly does comparing yourself to another lead you to the dark side?

If I really stared at the picture of myself a million years ago, I probably could have gotten depressed that I don’t look like that anymore. In fact, I was bemoaning that to a friend yesterday who reminded me that I took care of myself and was still attractive, so there…(friends reel you back in when you start to go to the dark side)

But instead of comparing myself to 23 year old me, I looked at the Brightside of the friendship. I laughed because one of the girls in the picture still has the same earrings that she wore back then. I thought, I am so lucky to have these amazing women in my life. Today I am buying ink so that I can print out a copy of the pic to place on my desk…

When you compare yourself to another (or a younger version of yourself), you highlight that you are either better than them, or worse than them.

Why do you need to be better or worse than someone else?

How much of your self esteem is tied to being better or worse than another person?

Many high schools have gotten rid of class rank, because students comparing themselves to others was becoming a real problem. My daughter’s school did not announce the actual valedictorian until the day of graduation. They compared and contrasted and competed with one another as it was: if there was an actual rank they would have driven themselves crazy trying to be number one instead of doing all the wonderful things that they did.

Comparing may be human nature, but we need to be careful of this road. Wishing to have what others have, be what others are, is eventually going to make you feel bad about yourself. If you are constantly keeping up with the Jones Family or the Kardashian family, or any family, when are you doing what makes YOU truly happy? Is comparing yourself to others the best way to spend your energy?

If I dwelled that my best friend was more attractive then me, compared myself to her,  I would have resented her. I might not have hung out with her. And that would have been a great loss in every way.

We need to make sure we don’t live in Compareland. We need to play down the comparisons and play up our own natural attributes. Let’s face it, there is always going to be someone more attractive, successful, smarter, better writer…and there’s always going to be someone who is less attractive, less successful, less smart…. But we can’t live our lives off this particular currency. We need to live our lives being the best that we can be.

The people I know who lead the least satisfying lives are ones that tend to spend their time comparing themselves to others. Envious of their brand new shiny white kitchen. Jealous that there husband is home at 6pm every night. They spend their energy wishing they were someone else, have someone else’s objects or attributes, instead of focusing on what would make their life better. They are living life externally. They see something and they want it. But they don’t really think about working on themselves internally.

Your homework today is to consciously think about when and why you compare yourself to another. If seeing someone with a really great tennis serve inspires you to take a lesson, or practice more, than go with it. This is the good side of comparison: seeing what someone else has or does and let it inspire you to do better in a positive way. If comparing your body to the curvaceous woman/ripped guy you see at the gym makes you feel bad about yourself, or makes you hate the person, consider what comparing is doing to your self esteem. Do you need something else to make you feel bad about yourself?

Maybe you can’t control your thoughts: but you can work on your reactions to them.

 

38 thoughts on “Shall I compare thee…Maybe…Maybe Not

  1. Here’s another perspective: On a trip to Montreal when I was in my mid 20s I took my 2 female colleagues, one of whom worked in my office, both also mid 20s, to visit a high school friend who made us lunch who lived in YUL.

    The high school friend pulled out a photo album and showed us a picture of me when we were 17.

    I always had self-esteem issues, especially with my physical self, but that was a particularly awkward (candid) picture. Bad angle, not flattering, just not good. She was next to me in the pic and looked great.

    My friend pointed it out specifically which shocked me a little. There were other pictures in the album, but she pointed that one out. Did she not see how uncomfortable this made me?

    My office colleague/friend kept saying how this was such an unattractive picture of me. Over and over again. I sunk into myself (instead of defending myself)

    They are not friends to me anymore. But at the time, I was stuck in the situation. And it made me realize they were picking on me to compare themselves as more attractive, better, yada yada than me. They upped themselves at my expense.

    Same office friend did it to me again when we were in a work related seminar a year later. She picked a feature of me and then of her and stated how much better she looked.

    Count your lucky stars that you have the long-lasting friendships you do with your lady friends. Attractiveness is subjective and in the eye of the beholder anyway.

    I no longer maintain contact with mine although one of them follows me on insta. But I refuse to compare myself to them today, even if they still do that with me (I don’t know bec I don’t seek them out).

    Funny how I carried this with me all this time…

    Great post as always. 🙂 And sorry for my lengthy response.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love long responses (it’s the odd ones I’m not so sure about….thanks btw…) but yeah…there’s always people who will try to break your spirit…

      Like

  2. Interesting post. I Have always had close gal pals. In fact, I’m still close to my high school and college friends. But, I don’t recall being particularly envious of my friends. I just liked them because they all were special in their own way. I have photos of us at our 50th high school reunion and I think we all looked wonderful. However, I do remember in my late 20’s, after college, after my divorce from my first husband, that I had some close new friends from work. Some of those friendships lasted a lifetime as well. But, during those dating years I was insecure and clueless due to my newly single status. I was told years later by a dear friend that she felt insecure being around me because I got all the attention. I found that shocking. That close friend passed away two years ago from cancer and shortly before she died we went through An old photo album from the 70’s. We both were stunned at how gorgeous we looked and laughed, wondering why we had been so insecure when we looked so young, vibrant and fabulous. We were clueless at how amazing we were. She admitted she’d always been envious of me. I was truly surprised. Quite honestly, the only person I think I was slightly envious of was my daughter in law in the very beginning of my son’s marriage. ( he’s been married for over a decade now.) But, back then, I’d get all dressed up and think I looked great and then at get togethers I’d take a look at my daughter in law and compared to her I suddenly felt old! I of course got over that the first year my son wS married, realizing it was ridiculous to compare myself to someone half my age. But truth be told, it bothered me at first. I suppose it was the realization that I wasn’t going to be the most attractive girl in the room anymore and that I was aging. I actually discussed this with another friend of mine who admitted to feeling the same way for a brief time. Women hit an age when they suddenly become invisible. And it takes a while to adjust to aging. Or at least it did for me and for some of my friends. When you are used to being listened to, being noticed, and then suddenly you are no longer looked at or valued in the same way, it’s a surprise. For me that was in my early 60’s. I got over it quickly. I stopped worrying about comparisons to younger women and focused on who I was inside. Ironically, I think I looked amazing in my 60’s, so self reflection apparently worked. Now being 70and dealing with cancer I realize how shallow all of that was. But for a short time it did bother me that I was aging. Now I just want to get that chance to grow old! The real shocker was that my close friend who passed away said she’d been envious of me when we were young. I never knew.
    We all have our unique attributes. It’s silly to worry about the petty stuff.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course aging gets to us. But you can’t let fear of aging ruin your present life. The energy should be staying healthy and preserving what we do have, not freaking about what we don’t have. Envy is negative, and while we all feel it sometimes, we can’t let it consume us…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! It’s funny but I wasn’t concerned in my every day life but for a short time I felt as if I was put out to pasture. It was a fleeting feeling but it was an awakening. It was The first time I was slightly envious of someone else. However, I realize now it was more about empty nest syndrome. My youngest son went off to college, my oldest son got married, my husband and father passed away, and I moved. All in the same year. So it was a combination of things. I briefly talked to a therapist who said any one of those things could have sent me over the edge and I was handling things quite well. Just realizing that my life was changing had me refocusing my energies. Like I said, it didn’t last long but I acknowledge that I was temporarily concerned about my life changing. Of course now it seems trivial. But back then for a short time I was concerned.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think being involved in sports when I was younger helped me a lot. Because no matter the sport I took up, there was always someone- or many someones- who were better than I was at it. It made me focus on certain facets of my game that I wanted to improve upon. Like one year, I practiced until I could dunk a basketball. I also became quite the free throw shooter. These were my little victories, and they took so much time and effort that I didn’t think about how I didn’t measure up to someone else’s game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a big believer in being involved in competitive arenas when you’re young, whether it a physical sport or academic competition. I think there’s much to be learned from these experiences

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I learned so much. The give and take, the selflessness of working to achieve something with others. I was and still am more introverted than not even though I can be outgoing. But I learned to understand and appreciate diverse personalities and opinions and this translated into so many things.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s true that we make comparisons, but we don’t have to internalize them or use them to change our opinion of ourselves. That doesn’t serve us well at all. I like to be able to genuinely appreciate those who have achieved things that perhaps I never will, and maybe help others achieve their goals without being full of myself.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s tough if you are a perfectionist, in most things I never consider myself a completed work because in my head I can always do better or worse not try because I can’t be the best. I am not comparing myself to others and find myself wanting but instead comparing myself to my picture of perfection(I know perfection is not possible). I had quite a few girlfriends that were better looking than I was and somehow that never bothered me, wierd when you think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post LA! I like the tennis analogy and that’s how I try to stay grounded when I feel that prickle of competition/comparison lurking beneath the surface. Perfection is a tough master and I think it’s better left alone. Nobody’s perfect. I love that you are still friends with those girls. I have a tribe too and we have all kinds in our tribe which what makes us wonderful because each person has her own gifts that we bring to our tribe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I modeled clothing in New York City years ago while working for the garment district. I was a perfect size with a quirky look. I tried doing commercials but attending a cattle call made me throw up from anxiety. My brothers were very good looking and still are. My aunt was a model. I am an instructor now and although I still make up and dress nicely, more people pay attention or not to the content. I have done a 180. The emphasis nowadays is so different from the good looks of Christie Brinkley, etc. Beauty is defined so differently. There is more acceptance of bigger women, and differences.One no longer has to be a perfect size 6.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No time to waste comparing apples to oranges. I am a unique person. Do I want more money like X? Of course. Do I want to be prettier like Y? You bet. Do I want to be young again? Sure, but then, I wouldn’t have my kids. Look at Kobe – money, looks, gone. Gotta just live my life as it is. (Of course, now I’m losing weight my reflection looks better to me but…)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. LA,
    Really needed to be reminded of this right now! Had an argument with someone I value. Trusted her to give me feedback on something I’d written and she only found negative things to say. While some of her feedback made sense, the rest felt like a slap in the face and was more of a negative judgment on my life. She believes that I shouldn’t be as open with what I write because it doesn’t make me look good — whatever that means. Ugh. I thought she accepted me for who I am. Now I find that she has just been tolerating me. So this morning I find myself doubting myself on so many things at so many levels. All that means is that I’m processing and eventually I’ll be fine; but can one still have a relationship after that kind of brutal honesty, especially when it was uncalled for? I don’t think I’ll be able to trust her again. That, of course, makes me truly sad! I get that we see things differently, but I always thought that was a good thing. The fact that I know she doesn’t, has changed my perspective. Is this not a comparison when one has to say that sometimes you have to have your own back and get away from someone who is judging you to be inferior? I feel like I’m caught in a hell of compare and contrast at the moment! Mona

    Like

  10. I spent my early 20s with a gorgeous girl as my BF. She was blonde, had great boob & slim legs – she turned heads, I did not. But I really really liked her, she was funny, kind, and the very best company. Our lives have drifted a bit in the interim, but we are still friends. She still turns heads, while I do not. But here’s the thing – the way she looked was never anything to do with our friendship. I’ve had friends who are better looking than me (most of ’em if I’m being frank) and some who are not – it’s not part of the criteria when I make friends and it’s never been why a friendship didn’t take or ended. And that’s exactly how it should be.

    As a PS, I wonder how many women would’ve asked that question …

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s