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Navigating a Comparison-Focused Society

Posted by Alexandra Van Rijn on

I think everyone, to some extent, knows that comparisons are toxic.

But in a world that not only encourages competition, but thrives off of it, it is so hard to distance yourself from the idea of comparison. Comparison is rarely healthy. Yes, “healthy competition” is something we hear all the time, and I totally recognize that. That being said, from my personal experience, there has not been a single time where prolonged comparison made me feel good about myself. Because here’s the thing… there was a point where I was comparing myself to everyone else all the time, and it was exhausting. I was never “enough”, because when it came to my grades, if I was happy with my mark but a friend got 2% higher, I would suddenly feel bad about it. Otherwise, I would feel bad for potentially making the other person feel less-than-happy about their result. Comparisons turn things into a competition. And for someone who hates confrontation, competition can quickly turn into something very negative. 

 

January is a time where comparisons often reach their peak, with the whole “New Years Resolution” idea and the “New Year, New Me” mentality. There’s a reason gym memberships are at an all-time high, and why a lot of new advertisements come out at the beginning of the year. It is easy to feed off of all the excitement of a new year, and get caught up in the change of it all. While I absolutely love January and the celebration of a new year (from the comfort of my couch with my dog), there is also a part of me that hates it, because I hate comparison and competition that comes along with it. We are truly our own worst critics. I actively fight the urge to compare myself to others, as that is where many of my anxieties and body image issues come from. Although I am fighting against it, January can still become a difficult month. For self-care and self-love advocates like me, this month can be tricky to navigate too. 

 

On the one hand, I know that many people have positive lifestyle changes that they really would like to make, and that could make them happier and healthier. So, I don’t want to say "Don’t set goals!" or "Don’t try to change in the New Year" but I do want to emphasize the importance of recognizing when you are making comparisons.

First of all, you don’t need a new year to make a positive lifestyle change.

You can do this at any time of the year, or time of the day. With that said, at the beginning of the year, because so many people are trying to make changes in their life, comparison is a larger factor. Basically, when you notice yourself assessing the outcomes of changes you choose to make based on how others are doing, stop. Your challenges, and your little victories are going to be very different than your best friend’s. If you don’t want to make any changes in your life, if you aren’t ready to, or if you are happy with your life the way it is… don’t feel pressured to change your lifestyle because everyone else is. In my humble opinion, black sheep are the cutest anyways ;) If you are recovering from an eating disorder or depression, and you can’t go to the gym when it seems like everyone else is: that’s more than okay. Try not to compare yourself to others, because what is important for your right now is your health and recovery, and what you need will look a lot different than someone who has different struggles than you do. In short: “you do you”. Why compare yourself to others when there is only one you on the planet? Shine bright, you wonderful little star. I’m rooting for you.

Written by Campus Rep Ally Geist 
Edited by Executive Assistant Addie Van Rijn 

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