My Personal Demon: Self-Comparison

Danyelle 2I am about to write about my very personal, intimate thoughts, deepest insecurities and dapple a bit into existentialism. So, as a reader, please suspend all judgment…at least until you’ve read the entire article. By the end, you may find the topic of this article is as much an influential factor on your life as it is mine. Maybe. So, let the games begin and…. MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!

As a young adult of 23 years of age, I find myself in the midst of a world that is quickly evolving and demanding. This world demands answers from the youth. We are being asked questions like: “ How will you use the scarce resources to meet the demand of a growing population?”, “How will you lead the country, the world to peace?”, “How will you support and take care of the elderly?”, “How will you change the world for the better or at least sustain?”, “Who are you?”, “What will you become?” Meanwhile, we are struggling to answer the call and simultaneously know the answer for ourselves. Who are we? What will we contribute? It seemed that we owed the world before we were even born, but what do we owe ourselves? I believe the answer is simple: knowledge of self. This is our peace of mind AND the answer to all of the questions of the world. But, how do we truly get there. There are so many distractions along the way. We get caught up in the day to day; making sure we have subsistence, dealing with the mini-dramas that life throws us, not to mention the allure of social media. When we take a step back and look at the big picture, we can see that these distractions contribute to our life experiences and even consequently helps us learn about who we are, what we represent and what we value. It all contributes to our quest of knowledge of self.

We are living in an era where information is easier than ever to get. The lives of those we hardly ever get to see if we’ve ever seen them at all are accessible at the click of a button. This makes it verily easy to fall into the habit of self-comparison. If no one else will, I will be the first to admit that I have been there, done that. If you think about it, everyone has. If you’ve ever played a game that had a winner and a loser, you’ve done it! Self-comparison can be explained through social comparison theory. Social comparison theory, proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954, states that we determine our individual worth depending on how we compare against others. We constantly evaluate and define ourselves through what others are doing. This can be very dangerous in determining an accurate reflection of self or it could be a source of motivation. Admittedly, I’ve used social comparison in both ways. There have been times I’ve emulated the ways of the rich and famous. I remember a time when I was watching MTV’s “Cribs” when I was 13 years old. I saw a celebrity who owned 400 pairs of shoes and I remembered thinking that’s over the amount that you need in order to wear a different pair each day. I then felt as if I truly needed more than my humble number of 12 pairs of shoes. I pestered my mother to no avail. “Mommy, I need more shoes! I don’t have enough.” My mother’s reply, “ You have money for shoes?? Hmm?” In that instant, I was convinced that I needed to continue my babysitting service (yes, service. I was legit!) in order to support my “needs”. So, when reflecting, yes self-comparison led me to a road (very short lived) of materialism and not having an accurate reflection of self-worth, but it also led me to work harder, get my first job and contributed to some of my best habits/attributes. This leads to the question of, is there a way to define yourself without social comparison?

Comparing myself to others has led me down some very dark roads that I hope to never return to, but has also led me to a road of self-discovery. Still, there has to be a way to cut down all of the competitiveness, jealousy and envy we have with others and remain true to ourselves. Here are 10 tips on self-discovery and knowing your true worth:

  1. Do what you like…. MORE.

 Go out and explore! Try new things! Identify what you like, don’t worry about what you don’t like. Do what you like to do A LOT. You like to dance! Dance! Don’t worry about being a professional. Do what makes you smile. 

  1. Identify your talents….AND your challenges.

 I’ve been told that I’m a very well spoken person who is very friendly and sociable. I also enjoy writing, reading, and speaking. I’ve established that this must be one of my talents and if it isn’t, I’ll work hard to make it one because I like to do it!

It’s very important to know what you are good at and to know what you love to do. The only way to know is to garner as many experiences in a variety of things and just experience life. You’ve experienced a load and still can’t “discover your talents”? Keeping an objective stance also helps. Look at yourself as if you are in your best friends shoes. How would your best friend describe you? This will help you see yourself from a different perspective.

I find that people easily find what they don’t like about themselves and what they can do better. What’s harder for people is finding a way to be okay with that part of themselves. In order to grow, we must accept our greatness and our “not-so greatness”. I’ve noticed that man is kind of paradoxical. We make the bad very apparent, yet ignore it at the same time. We must face ourselves head on. We have to challenge ourselves to do better in the areas that we wish to.

  1. Work HARD!

Life is not easy. Life is not easy. LIFE is not easy. Okay, I think you get it now. Some people make life seem easy. But, even those people work their butt off to get to where they are. Celebrities too? Yes, celebrities too. Do you know how hard celebrities work to stay “relevant”? Their appearance matters all of the time (so does yours in case you didn’t know) and they have to be constantly cognizant of changing trends in fashion and art. When I go home and close my door to my room, I’m constantly cognizant of changing trends in the economy and education. Whatever you value, work hard for it and never forget it.

  1. Study HARD!

 You love something? Study it! Whether you’re an autodidact or formal learning student, pursue what you’re passionate about.

It’s like the stages of falling in love. You take interest in someone and you want to know about them. You learn about them and you continue to want to know more until there’s nothing else to know. Because human beings are evolving creatures, you could never know all there is to know about anyone. It’s the same with learning a subject. Learn until you can’t learn anymore!

  1. Define your values.

 Know what you value. This should be easy to figure out. You start when you’re a kid. “I like that!” vs. “I don’t like that!” You’re an early bird and you like timeliness? That’s a value. You like open-mindedness and dig creativity? That’s a value.

The more you know what you value. The less others and their values can lead you astray.

  1. Know your friends.

 Know your friends and you’ll know yourself. I don’t know about you, but I see little bitty reflections of myself in my friends. My friends and I are not identical, but I see some of the things that I value most in them. The more I learn about them, the more I value them…flaws and all. The more I value my friends, inclusive of their flaws, the easier it is to accept my own.

Also, it is very important to have a strong support system that loves you and is committed to keep learning about you. They help you, be you.

  1. Take care of your health!

 The first rule to loving and appreciating yourself is to take care of your mental, spiritual and physical health. Keep learning, keep searching for peace and keep moving!

When we feel good about ourselves, we are more productive and have a better outlook on life!

  1. Look good….yeah, I’m looking at you 😉

 If you feel good, you look good automatically. Are you taking care of your body (the only one you’re going to get in this life!)? Are you taking care of what you put on your body? Your outward appearance towards the world reflects your emotional state and what you value. It’s your physical testimonial about your life. So, let it be a GOOD one! 😉

  1. Set goals….S.M.A.R.T. goals.

 If you’re not planning for the future, it’s because you don’t believe you have one. Start making specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timely goals today! These goals will define the type of life you want to lead. Take initiative to lead the life that you want.

       10.  LOVE.

If you forget everything else in this blog, remember to love. Love yourself and love others without expectations or reservations. We are all human and we all fall short of perfection. The most important lesson that we can learn here is to love unconditionally. It not only makes for a more enjoyable life, it makes for a productive and meaningful one too!

God has provided us all very special talents. Jealousy, envy and coveting what our neighbors have are only potential set backs for our own growth. We must remain patient. Love ourselves then others and grow together.

 

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