Comparing Yourself to Others Can Ruin Your Life
It doesn't end when you become an adult.
I don’t even know how it wove itself into the fabric of my life—that stupid, sneaky comparison. Comparison is something I talked about with the girls in youth group, not something I actually dealt with—until I realized I was dealing with it. It hit me like a bus: I was actually comparing my life to others. It was such a part of me, I hadn’t even realized it was there.
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” according to Theodore Roosevelt.
I don’t know how many areas of my life suffer from this illness, but my guess is that most of them are touched by it. Now that I actually think about it, something about turning 27 kicked the comparison game into high gear for me. Most of my friends are married or having babies at this point in their lives.
My parents weren’t even exempt from the comparison dialogue in my head. They had been married for 5 years, had a baby and my dad started working at the company he still works for—all by 27. I had moved three times in the past year, still not worked in my field, had never really dated and only held other people’s babies at 27.
See there, I did it again.
I want to blame social media, the fun and cute people I surround myself with who are always getting married, my circumstances, “my generation,” my personality, my brokenness or God Himself for all of this mess. Honestly, it’s probably a mixture of all of all of those things. Unfortunately, neither blame nor understanding really keeps me from that joy-siphoning practice. How in the world did I get here? I’m convinced I’m too old for this.
I feel like there are specific times in life when this comparison stuff is so easy to get wrapped up in. At 16, when you’re awkward and the girl sitting beside you in math class looks like she’s 23. Or at 27, when you can’t seem to enter into the life stage that everyone else has seemed to enter into so effortlessly.
Maybe at 45 when the kids are graduating and everyone’s asking where they’re going to college and what they’re doing with their life and yours don’t even want to go to college. Or at 65 when everyone is retiring and holding their grandkids and your kids still refuse to get married and have kids. I know how seasonal and predictable it is and yet, here I am.
Here’s the truth: My life doesn’t look like anyone else’s. I don’t know anyone in my life stage with my circumstances, but isn’t that everyone’s story? Sometimes I forget that. The added comparison pressure makes me feel like I’m either riding a tricycle while everyone else is riding a motorcycle or like everyone is on a train speeding by and I can’t run fast enough to keep up.
I think sometimes life requires looking at the parts that need healing and seeing them as exactly what they are: wounded. I want so badly to fix myself, to handle this faith thing, to not need Jesus. But in the end, healing requires someone outside of myself to come along and help, because I can’t remove my own comparison sickness. Acknowledging comparison’s harm, asking for help and being thankful for the Lord’s unique authorship of my story is a good place to start.