The Comparison Factor
"Wow, I wish I was as pretty as her" or "he's so accomplished, how does he find time to go to the gym, eat vegan and run a successful company?" or "man, I wish I could go to Bora Bora for free!"
Some of these thoughts are aspirational (I'd love a free trip to Bora Bora, but I know it's just not in the cards), some of these thoughts apply to people who are in your life, and some are just generic influencers on social media. It's there, however, the self-doubt, the jealousy the 'I'll never be as good as so-and-so thoughts. Having self-doubt and feelings of resentment are common. I always strive to be my best, to do my best but I still fear my best will never be enough. Do I blame social media for this? Not entirely. I know what is real and what is all smoke screens. Because I grew up in a time before social media (gasp!) I know that most people do not live in the picture perfect lives that are depicted in their Insta stories. We all get sick, we all have messy houses, we all have fights with our loved ones.
I recently polled a group of friends, some of which had removed social media entirely from their lives, and asked: how do you feel about what you see on your feeds? The typical response was that social media made them sometimes feel inadequate or jealous of others lives. These are thoughts that we've all had at one point or another. How do we move from feeling inadequate to feeling good and happy with our accomplishemnts?
Some of these feelings stem back to Imposter Syndrome (see: Dealing with Imposter Syndrome). I believe that Imposter Syndrome is something that every person will suffer from at some point in their lives. When these feelings of doubt begin to creep in, it's generally a good time to take a step back, take a deep breath and say 'you are good enough.' Phone a friend if that doesn't work. Find a tactic that works for you and proceed with steps one through nine.
I've suffered from doubt in many aspects of my life but especially around my career. I've always compared myself to others. I've always strived to be the best and the brightest. I've slowly realized that maybe always trying to be the best isn't the right thing. Perhaps being recognized for my hard work and also myself recognizing I've worked hard at something is good enough. Recently, it was pointed out to me that because I try to be perfect, it sometimes holds me back. I always strive to have a level of perfection, and negative thoughts creep in when I'm unsure. As a human, my first response has frequently been fear or doubt. Will they like what I've written? Will they think I'm smart? Is this good enough? Over 90% of the time that answer is yes.
I don't believe there is a one size fits all answer for this problem. We all have varying levels of dissatisfaction with our lives and ourselves. One thing I have learned that work is I ask myself: am I happy with this project? Did I try my hardest and do my best? If the answer is yes, then I tend to feel better. It's an improvement. I've also learned not to beat myself up for my mistakes but to learn from them. When I was beginning my career one mistake would send me over the edge into deep-set hysterics. How could I have done that! Why am I so stupid! Now I leave the error for a few hours, maybe even a few days and tackle it with a new set of eyes. It has helped clarify the problem and learned how to make it better for the future.
As humans, we will always compare ourselves to others. She has a better job. I wish I were as smart as him. The list goes on. As a society, it is time to stop this. Instead of comparing and being jealous sometimes (re Bora Bora), I've begun taking an approach where when I feel these thoughts creeping in I think wow, good for them. Try to learn from the people you want to be, ask them to mentor you if they are in your network and find out how they got there so one day you can get there as well.