The Subtle Art of Not Comparing Yourself

Studying at a place like Imperial can definitely challenge you mentally.

You would most probably meet some of the brightest and smartest people who have never received anything below a First-Class grade and/or have been awarded the Dean’s list every single year without fail. Alternatively, you may have come across young company founders who are basically entrepreneurial geniuses. Or perhaps, the person who is sitting next to you during lectures could be the President of a large student society or someone holding multiple job offers from prestigious firms.

And the list goes on.

My best guess is that you would have most likely heard about the importance of not comparing yourself with others. Nevertheless, I can definitely understand that practising this mindset consistently is no doubt easier said than done as I struggle a lot with this too.

Still, there are a few things that I try to remind myself whenever such occasion arises, and I thought it might be worthwhile (perhaps) to share some of them here. And to whoever reading this, I hope that this can help you in some way or another when you are faced with a similar situation.

Understand that this is not a competition

This is probably a tricky thing to do, given that we literally find ourselves in numerous situations where we have no choice but to compete with others in order to get something we want. Though, it is good to always bear in mind that even though competition can be healthy – in the sense that you push yourself to become increasingly skilled at whatever you do – comparing your life to someone else’s isn’t exactly the right way forward.

Instead, I would say using that time and energy to focus inwards would be a better approach because the goal of living life isn’t for you to strive to be better than the people around you. Rather, I would argue that the goal of living life is really to become the best version of yourself, irrespective of what others have achieved or have done.

Recognise that we are often using the wrong comparison metrics

In essence, we would typically compare the worst version of ourselves to the positive assumptions we have made of others. Hence, this would ultimately mean that we will constantly be fighting a losing battle with ourselves, with no good ever coming out of it.

Remind yourself that nobody’s perfect

As much as how social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn are filled with achievements and triumphs, a single snapshot in time is by no means a fully accurate representation of a person’s life and personality.

In other words, there are always two sides to a story. Come to think about it, most people wouldn’t want the entire world to know about their insecurities, fears, and failures (unless there was a hint of a positive element within it). In short, everyone has their unique share of strengths and weaknesses. And for that reason, there ought to be no reason for you to believe that there is a perfect individual out there who will make you an inadequate or incompetent person.

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