‘Don’t compare yourself with your friends, isn’t that a utopian statement?’ a friend remarked. I agreed, but added that it was necessary to be content with oneself, and immediately I thought, ‘Look who’s speaking!‘
Was I content? I couldn’t tell. I can’t. Some days I am, some other days my mind is a mess driving through the exam sheets from grade 2. (I probably don’t even remember it, it must be a constructed memory.)
There’s something more alluring than that packet of chips or plate of pizza. It’s comparisons. I don’t quite remember where was it exactly that I came across the term Obsessive Comparative Disorder on the ocean of the internet. I might have landed on an island whose route I have now forgotten. But the island was an exotic one, and perhaps continues to be more exotic as we deal with comparisons every moment of our lives. Thank you social media. (Well, you might have landed here through a social media link, and I have no words to say about this situation. Thank you for clicking and reading.)
But we can all agree that social media has fueled comparative lifestyle, disorders for some extreme cases. The stories our screen tell are, we know, different from what it seems. We all do. We know it. But just can’t deny, it seems.
Even without social media, the comparative nature doesn’t really go away. We’re bred in such a fashion. Remember report cards from school? Who scored 98%? Who stood first in elocution contest? Competition isn’t all bad, but somehow comparison ruins it all. It’s not I scored 90, see thats how much I knew about and how much I didn’t. But rather, she he they scored 94, 89, 70. It began a long time ago, before the advent of socials, and the unlearning is perhaps going to take an even longer time. Time might not be something we can afford to have, given it’s already about who has a better job, went to a better university, has smarter kids, more caring spouse. It doesn’t stop. It looks like an inevitable part of growing up.
It makes us bitter. The things I failed at make me morose – the ones everyone thought I would excel at. It’s not about giving up, but everyone needs a mental mettle and peace to deal with the little yet pinching things. They say it’s about the pauses in between that makes music sound the way it sounds. Pauses.
I pause and then begin to search for ideas. Here are three ideas I like to go through when I come across the punctured mark sheet of my life. However little or big they may be, they hurt. Ouch!
Everyone is equally difficult and awkward to be with. – Alain de Botton
This line often reminds me that it’s okay, everyone feels such emotions and they too fail. We’re all lacking and wanting. Everyone has holes in them.
Here’s a video by Alain de Botton, telling why we should not go to school reunion!
We need to know our strengths in order to know where we belong. – Peter F. Drucker
A planner may find that his beautiful plans fail because he does not follow through on them. Like so many brilliant people, he believes that ideas move mountains. But bulldozers move mountains; ideas show where the bulldozers should go to work.
– Peter F. Drucker, Managing Yourself
These are words from the master of management, Drucker himself taken from the article Managing Yourself complied in HBR’s On Managing Yourself. We all have strengths, it helps to learn them. For some it’s in money management, for some in Kindergarten, for others in decorated palette of food.
I am driven to find my strengths ever time I read these words. I am encouraged to try, to take up activities, and to forgive myself for the earlier mishaps.
It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t. – Anita Fain Taylor
This is one of my favorite videos from the World Championship of Public Speaking by Toastmasters International. Failure is a reality, but it doesn’t tell the full story. It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t.
There’s something more alluring than that packet of chips or plate of pizza. It’s comparisons. But we can beat them, both.