Troubling Comparisons


Dear Quiet Minds,

“Alone, I am satisfied. With others, I am beset by troubling comparisons.”
-Mason Cooley

Why are we constantly affected by troubling comparisons?

Often times, I find that when I am alone, it is very easy for me to know what I value and what I care about. Everything is much simpler when the only person I need to compete with is myself because there is no rush to be the best. I see myself in a much better light because there is no standard or expectation that I have to achieve. Many of my problems become small obstacles that can be overcome with quick solutions. However, when I am amongst others, I notice how successful others are, whether it be in career or appearance. I start to feel like I am not taking the appropriate actions to reach the “correct” level of success. More times than not, we compare ourselves to others in order to determine how successful we are in life. This is known as the social comparison theory.

Unfortunately, many of us end up following this social comparison theory in our everyday life. For example, even if I am passing all my classes in school, if I see someone who has an internship or a job, I feel as though I am not advancing the way I’m supposed to. I make myself believe that there are specific steps I must take and I find that I am on the first while everyone else is nearing the end. This way of thinking can easily bring down my spirits and although I understand that everyone moves forward in different ways and at different speeds, it still feels like I am lagging behind the rest. We often stand in front of a mirror hoping to see someone else, but find ourselves disappointed. Accepting ourselves the way we are is the step that many of us fail to take.


We have to accept that everyone on earth is like a grain of sand, unique in shape, color, depth and delicacy. We can’t aim to become the same as someone else because ultimately, that can cause us to stray from our maximum potential. Not everyone was meant to follow the same path to success. Every person has a different path that leads to a different type of success. It all depends on what your goals in life are. Therefore, comparing ourselves to others becomes a pointless matter when everyone around you has a different purpose. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done because comparing ourselves is something instinctual that we find ourselves randomly doing. However, I propose that we catch ourselves during those moments. Whenever you notice yourself making troubling comparisons and start feeling smaller than everyone else, remember the things that make you unique and the qualities that people love about you. Make yourself believe that the more different you are from everyone else, the more successful you are becoming.

Don’t ever allow the success of others to determine your worth.



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