Summer is here, and along with it comes the social media flood of accomplishments: the Facebook posts about service trips; the Instagram posts showcasing the first day at an internship and tweets about all the amazing adventures occurring. As someone who is constantly surrounded by high achievers, it seems like every time I get comfortable with who I am and what I’ve done, someone shows me how they’ve worked harder, and as a result, I’m back at square one.
The whole concept of comparison is one that I have grown very familiar with, and I know that I’m not the only one. Wanting to see how you stack up with peers is a natural feeling, but it comes at a severe cost. I’ve had conversations with my most accomplished friends about how they feel trapped in a place of inadequacy; hey, I’ve felt that way plenty of times myself. That’s right. It’s possible to get so caught up in checking what your neighbor is doing that you find yourself paralyzed towards making any type of movement yourself.
When your head starts to spiral in this direction, it’s important to be logical with yourself and remember that comparison is a losing game. No level of success will ever be enough. For me, getting into the business school at UNC was the pinnacle accomplishment. Once that happened, everything would fall into place and my life would be perfect. Come January of this year, I get in! And for about 24 hours, everything is amazing and I am untouchable, but it just took one conversation with an acquaintance who told me she was studying abroad to do medical research over the summer to go right back to zero. See the problem?
I had reached my biggest goal. Yet seeing someone else accomplish hers affected my entire outlook on my own. There is no logical reason why my friend taking advantage of an opportunity that doesn’t even have anything to do with me (I’m a business major…I have no prerogative to go do medical research anywhere) should have made me doubt myself. Not only did that experience make me feel bad about myself, but it didn’t allow me to be genuinely happy for my friend, who had worked as hard for that as I had Kenan-Flagler. It was lose-lose.
his summer, I’m challenging myself (and you) to drop the habit. Make comparison a thing of the past. It’s a nasty tendency that can steal your momentum and can cause resentment towards both yourself and those around you. This is how I plan to put comparison into perspective this summer, and I urge you to try some of these tactics and see what impact they have on your life:
1. Take a walk. Taking a walk is actually my solution to everything. Sometimes it takes just a shift in movement to see things clearly. I tried this last week, and it actually helped. When I saw a post on Instagram that instantly made me feel inadequate, I put down my phone, got up, walked downstairs and then went back to my room. Wasn’t any serious distance, but in the few minutes I took, everything seemed less dire.
2. Keep track of victories. When we’re comparing ourselves to others, we are often only considering our worst traits and their best. By taking time each day to write down victories, even the small ones, you are constantly reminding yourself of the forward steps you are taking, which can help you appreciate them more.
3. Make a to-do list. This is my favorite cheat way to feel accomplished. Make a to-do list of very tangible things. For example, take a shower, wash your hair, sweep the floor, call your mom. All things that need to be done, but none that you will be stuck on for an extended period of time. As you cross each one of, regardless of how minor the tasks might seem, you will feel a genuine sense of pride and productivity.
4. Celebrate the accomplishments of others. By being genuinely happy for those around you, you take your focus off of your so-called inadequacies. One of my closest friends landed her dream internship this summer. While that’s something that I could have become bitter about, instead I made her a congratulations gift and gave it to her before she started. She really appreciated it, and instead of feeling bad about myself, I really relished in her success and how happy I felt for her.
I’m not going to be unrealistic and assume with these four little changes, the comparison urges will completely cease to exist. But every single time the urge creeps up and I shut it down with one of these things, I’ll be sure to add that to my victories list.
This post was originally shared on LinkedIn