Why – despite our best efforts – do we compare ourselves to those around us?
Listening to others talk about their adventures, exciting new jobs, or travel should not cause us to think less of ourselves… but it does (for some of us anyway).
Why does this happen and how do we make it stop?
I pose these questions to you readers, because I found myself in such a predicament not too long ago. I’m usually pretty good at not taking these things to heart, but for some reason I let this encounter get to me.
I was invited to a family BBQ at a friend’s house that involved great food, wine, and company – for the most part. It’s not that I don’t like this person, but the theme of the evening seemed to revolve around how perfect her life was compared to the rest of ours. In a way, she used the conversations as a forum for telling us all of the great things she’s been doing and will do soon. Now look, I know she’s probably excited, and that’s wonderful, but this was one of those cases of not really letting anyone else share.
Yes, I am aware that I may be looking at this negatively, but that’s the point – from her stories, I started to feel bad about my position in life. Why? Because she is, or will be, doing the things I would like to do and she’s eight years younger that I am. I know I shouldn’t care, I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others – so why does it still happen? I shouldn’t weigh my self worth in what others are doing… but, boy, wouldn’t I like to be in her shoes right now.
I’m sure most of us have encountered these feelings in one way or another… maybe a friend is buying a house before you? Or, someone is travelling to a place you’ve dreamed of going? Or, someone is fitter than you right now? Ugh, how we waste our energy and let these things get to us!
Well, it must stop now! (or happen less… baby steps are ok here)
We can’t compare ours lives to those of others, or we will never enjoy our own. We can’t waste our energy on them because it’s only harming us anyway.
So what if I’m not going to Italy right now? Some day I might… and in my own time… and I might appreciate it more. I’ve heard stories of friends who travelled early in life, but they were too immature or wrapped up in other things to really appreciate the beauty of their trip. Well, I tell you, I don’t want that to be me. I went to Europe for the first time at 27 years old, and I tell you, I appreciate the memories and what I learned so much – probably even more so that I had to work hard to save the money!
Essentially, that is where I find myself most envious of others – travel. I don’t care for expensive cars or huge houses, but boy do I want to travel. I want to be rich in experiences and for some reason, I am trying to rush it.
So, here’s to at least being aware of when we’re being envious of others. Awareness is a good start, because we can acknowledge it and waste less energy on it. I’m not sure if we can totally avoid being envious our whole lives, but we can work on the awareness and reminding ourselves that it doesn’t make us any less of an awesome human being. Plus, sometimes we don’t always know what is going on behind the closed doors of others – such as this quote suggests:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~ Plato
So, there you go readers, some honesty from me – not all of us can escape envy. (Ugh… even after I prepared this post I had another situation today… but I acknowledged it and let it go, I hope it worked).
Has this ever happened to you? How do you deal with it?