How many times per day do you find yourself green with envy? How many times have you scrolled through Instagram, fixated on your friends’ beach selfies, wild Friday nights or beautifully-decorated seaview apartments? We’ve all been there, trapped in compulsive comparison syndrome.
After all, it’s so easy for us to compare ourselves to others. We see friends’ careers take off when we haven’t even decided what we want to do with our lives. We scan through a constant stream of engagement pictures, which seem to pop up the very moment that we return from yet another terrible date. And we fall for the “Meet our new puppy!” posts when we can’t even keep our houseplants alive.
But when we fall into a comparison trap, life becomes a contest. We suddenly place ourselves in a lineup of everyone else our age and judge ourselves on every aspect of our lives.
But the only judge in this contest is you, so here are four ways to stop comparing yourself to others:
1. Realise that Instagram isn’t real life.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s very easy to forget when you see that Jenny from down the road just posted another perfect holiday snap. Don’t let the lives people choose to share on social media fool you! Social media is a vessel that we all use to show off our best selves. So just because someone looks like they’re on holiday all the time or appear to have the most perfect relationship doesn’t mean that their entire life is perfect. We don’t know their true reality, and we should keep that in mind as we scroll.
2. Celebrate what you do have, not what you don’t.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to friends and wonder why you don’t have your own flat or your dream job yet. Why them? We ask ourselves why those things can’t happen to us and realise that we’re rapidly falling behind in the “life satisfaction” contest.
But the next time you sink into comparison, stop for a minute and focus on everything that is great in your life. Yes, maybe you still live at home, and maybe you haven’t found your dream job. But that doesn’t mean that your whole life is doom and gloom! Make a list of every single thing that you love about your life, however small. Your friends, your family, the beaten-up little car that never lets you down, that dress you bought last week that you can’t wait to wear. Don’t let the comparison cast a shadow over all of the good in your life.
3. Be patient.
Just because you don’t have the “perfect” life now doesn’t mean that you never will. When we finish school, we stop living our lives in parallel to everyone else our age. Up until that point, we all progressed at pretty much the same speed. But when “real life” begins, it can throw us off course, so we all start traveling completely different paths.
The goalpost is no longer the same for everyone, so it’s inevitable that we’ll all head in different directions. It may seem like some people have walked straight down the path to success while you’re stuck in the woods. But your detours don’t mean that you’ll never make it to your goalpost. It might just take you a little longer to get there, and that’s OK.
4. Focus on you.
The only way to get the life you dream about is to invest all of your time and energy in yourself. Constantly comparing, analysing, and mulling over others’ lives will only drag you down and stop you from progressing on your own life path.
We all feel a little blue after we do some heavy Instagram stalking and wonder why our lives aren’t perfect. But sulking isn’t going to get you anywhere. In your life, you’re in the driver’s seat, and you go wherever you want. So stop focusing on the other lanes and keep your eyes on your own car. In the end, your destination is the only one that matters.
Comparison is the thief of joy, especially on social media. Comparing yourself to others will leave you feeling inadequate,and it won’t get you any closer to where you want to be. So promise to only compete with yourself. When you do, you’ll win the contest every time!