“Comparison is the thief of joy.” That’s a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt. And it makes a lot of sense. When you take the time to size yourself up in comparison to other people, it can be really depressing. If you see that you aren’t as accomplished as your peers then you’ll feel behind. If you notice you’re not as attractive as your girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend you’ll probably feel insecure. If you notice that you’re not as rich as the people you hang out with, then you’ll feel like you’re less valuable. And all of that constant comparison can really get to your head. At some point you might start believing that you aren’t as important, attractive, or valuable as everyone else.
That’s a horrible thing to do your self-esteem. It’s good to realize that you’re not perfect so that you can aspire to improve. Why would you ever try to grow if you thought you were perfect? But at the same time, you have to protect your peace of mind from constant ruthless comparison. Comparison really is the thief of joy. But it’s still one of the best ways to learn things. We can learn a lot from simply comparing things and finding the differences. And comparison can even help us aspire to do and be more with ourselves. It’s all about healthy comparison that empowers or inspires you. And we all do that sometimes. So who do you sometimes compare yourself to?
Here’s my thoughts on who I sometimes compare myself to.
I sometimes compare myself to many different people. It all depends on the area of my life I’m focusing on. Most times I’m comparing myself to people for inspiration. I compare myself to people that I admire and respect for certain things they can do that I can’t. Of course that can really be a shot to my self-esteem. But I always remind myself that nobody is perfect. If I have a major or weakness so does everybody else. So they might be good at certain areas but they must have something that they’re not great at. It’s not healthy to put people on the unrealistic pedestal of perfection. And even if I do feel a little insecure when I compare myself, sometimes we need a subtle reality check.
When it comes to social savviness, I often compare myself to Dwayne. Dwayne is my bestfriend. He’s extremely good at connecting with other people. He’s always very authentic with himself. But he somehow can relate to almost anyone in any situation. I’ve seen him meet strangers and have hour long conversations on the spot. He’s really good at understanding how other people feel. And he almost always makes a point to make people feel comfortable and at ease around him. I compare myself to him often because I’m nowhere near as graceful in social situations. As an introvert it takes a lot more energy for me to connect with others. But Dwayne is really good at being an all around great people pleaser.
Another person I often compare myself to is my mom. My mom is a really smart woman. She is one of the smartest woman I know. She always thinks things out in advance. We are pretty similar in our ability to come up with good solutions to almost any problem. And no matter how dire the situation, she always keeps a cool, calm composure. We share those characteristics. But something she does a million times better than me is work. She has an insane work ethic. She’s always going at full speed. If she’s not working getting money, she’s at home cleaning her house from top to bottom. And if she’s not at home cleaning the whole house, then she’s probably studying to acquire yet another degree beside her name. I aspire to have such an impossible work ethic.
When it comes to business, I compare myself to Elon Musk. I see a lot similarities in the way that Elon Musk thinks and how I think. He is a very creative visionary. I have that same skill of easily creating novel ideas. And he has the ability to find solutions to some of the most impossible problems. I’m usually in the same boat of dedicating all my time and energy to problems that inspire me. There are few things that captivate me as strongly as an intriguing and important problem. I aspire to work on some of the world changing problems that he is dedicating his life to right now. The only difference is Elon has accomplished amazing things in life with a long list of accolades. I compare myself and wonder if I will ever reach his heights.
The last person I compare myself to is probably the most important person. When I’m done thinking about all the ways I differ from other people, I usually bring it back to myself. But rather than just compare me to me, I compare myself to a much younger version of myself. When I was younger I had so much vitality and creativity. I was inspired by every little small thing. And I lived life freely with a sparkle in my eye where I believed I could accomplish any and everything I put my mind to. I still have a lot of confidence in myself. But I’m very different in the way I approach life. There are a lot things I do not because I want to but rather I feel inclined to. There’s so many social, personal, and implied pressure to do what needs to be done. I compare myself now because I want to get back to the childlike Tim.
At the end of the day, I can’t be anyone else. Comparison can be one long, pointless waste of time. But at the same time, I know that there’s a lot of growth that can come from comparison. It’s not about comparing myself all the time to everyone and everything. But rather, I need to have a healthy amount of comparison to people that are worthy to be compared to. I will compare myself in areas that I want to improve. But I won’t stop at comparison. I will take the time to learn from my comparisons so I can truly grow better as a person. Otherwise, comparison will always be the thief of your joy. And my joy will always be one of my top priorities.
Thanks Dwayne, Elon, and Cheryl for inspiring me to be a better version of me. But most importantly, thank you naive, creative, fun-spirited Tim.