Woman v. Woman: The Real Problem With Comparing Yourself to Others
Whether at work or at home, we are plugged in and connected 24/7. We have an abundance of information readily available at our fingertips, day or night (thanks in large part not only to innovations made over the past few decades, but particularly in thanks to our tech-savvy current and future generations). Due to this, we have the capability to research almost any topic, including friends, potential love interests, and colleagues.
This need-to-know, must-have mentality has us accustomed to having information ready and on-demand. From the moment you discover your ex is dating someone new, or your company just filled that open director of sales position, you can dive deep on the internet and learn almost anything that you're curious to know about that individual (assuming they are active online/on social media).
This begs the question - is this sensory overload helpful or harmful to us?
Besides fulfilling your curiosity, there is a potential downfall that this access could lead to, and I'm not referencing the accidental shame associated with liking an Instagram picture from 72 weeks ago. No, I mean that feeling that rises slowly from your stomach, to your chest, and then to your throat; the one that makes you question yourself. Self-doubt is a tireless, sneaky b*tch of an intruder, and we are our own worst enemies.
You may have started off innocently stalking your new colleague, but then you allow the thought to creep in, almost undetected: "I am not as accomplished/capable/smart/beautiful as they are; I am obviously unworthy and don't possibly compare to the person on the other side of that screen." You merely see a picture or a list of accomplishments, and suddenly you picture the life of perfection that they surely are living; one that you would know nothing about, as you wallow in your supposed inferiority, solely focusing on your flaws.
I am guilty of it myself; before interviewing for a mentorship position, I checked out the LinkedIn profile of my interviewer to better prepare myself, but instead felt paralyzed by her long list of academic and professional accomplishments. 'Harvard Law School' stared back at me snarkily from her profile and I suddenly wondered why she had even responded to my application. Surely I would not be interesting or capable to someone of her caliber. I seriously considered just backing out of the interview altogether, but thankfully I wised up. All the more reason for me to say -
Ladies, it's time for us to snap out of it.
We all have a tendency to compare ourselves to others - from our professional accomplishments to our appearances. Women especially face this challenge with constant reminders from social media on what we must look like to have the perfect body, the perfect outfit, and what we must be to fit the supposed societal norm - to be "perfect." For women, comparison has no limit...the limit does not exist, if you will. Hate to go all Mean Girls on you, but the lasting popularity of that movie is based on the truth behind the message. Women face a lot of pressure, and they certainly can be mean sometimes as a result. The cattiness of the Burn Book extends for so many of us from the hallways at school to the offices at work.
We need to be kinder to each other, and especially to ourselves. We are already up against enough.
Even Presidential candidates and nominees are not excluded from scrutiny, as the appearance of Carly Fiorina and the likeability of Hillary Clinton were called into question by the likes of Donald Trump. As we try to break glass ceilings and move past assumptions of what anyone should "be," we continue to receive pushback and reminders that we are only as good as others perceive us to be in their judgment. This doesn't help when so many of us are already fighting our own insecurities and trying to be our own personal best.
It’s bad enough we have men telling us who we should be – as women, we should be lifting each other up, not pushing each other down.
After all, not only are we expected to be pretty, but we should simultaneously be smart, overachieving multitaskers as well. "Oh gee, look at Marissa - she has 3 kids, just started her own tech firm (wildly successful, obvi), AND she teaches a yoga class every Tuesday and Thursday. That's not all! Her cupcakes always are the fan favorite at the class bake sale (she's PTO President, btw)." Guess what? Marissa is f*cking exhausted and overwhelmed, but guaranteed you won't see that up on her blog. You will only see "picture perfect."
The problem with this is that the perfection of others is merely an illusion; it is just your perception of their reality (and often one that looks much better on social media than in actuality).
"Remember the famous saying from Theodore Roosevelt, "Comparison is the thief of joy"?" Leila Hock of Alignment Coaching warns, "It's famous for a reason - because it's true! When you compare yourself to others, you shift your perspective from being about what you want and will make you happy to how well you stack up against others. The problem is, you never know what others may be sacrificing to be where they are at work or what their long-term goals are. Chances are, their lives and desires are very different from your own and comparing yourself to them when the end game is different is not only pointless - it can be damaging."
Comparing yourself to others is a losing battle because there will always be someone who is smarter, more financially secure, or more accomplished. Whenever you feel the urge to compare yourself to another person, stop and remember that you and your path are unique. Practice gratitude for how far you have come and celebrate your own accomplishments - while learning to celebrate others. There is nothing more wonderful than to see women empowering other women!
“Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday.” ~ Anonymous