It’s really hard to remember all of the great things you have done when it seems like everyone around you is showing you up in what seems like every aspect of your life.
You got a summer job? Shes studying abroad in India with an intership.
You got a new sponsor for your organization? He got three new corporate sponsors.
You volunteered at a local nonprofit? She started one.
When others are doing amazing and wonderful things in their lives, it’s so hard to remember the amazing and wonderful things that you have been doing. And while comparing ourselves is a natural thing for humans to do, it’s only going to have negative outcomes. Using other’s successes to drive and inspire you is one thing, but letting it make you feel less about yourself is a lot easier.
When I switched my major to social work, I was sure that my battle with an eating disorder, depression, lack of friends in high school, and journey to find self-assurance was more than enough to give me the empathy and report that I needed to help just about anyone and everyone I needed to.
I was surrounded by people who had life changing experiences just like I had. We would share our stories with one another-learning from each other. The first seemingly negative experience that really forced me to analyze myself was at the beginning of this semester when we began studying white privilege. I knew it was going to be rough when I saw it on the syllabus, but I had no idea.
When we each took a ‘privilege’ quiz, we achieved a number -32 to 32. (With -32 having no white privilege and 32 having…you guessed it, a whole gad of privilege). I felt pretty good about my score of 22, I mean I was a whole 10 points below the highest possible score! And having heard some of my classmates upbringings and stories, I knew that there would be some low numbers. But when numbers like -20, -17, 2, -12, -23, -8, 5 etc. were being thrown out-I must admit I told a white lie and said I had a score of 17. Even then, I was one of the top five of the class.
I didn’t want to come across as spoiled or privileged to my peers who had grown up with hardships worse than anything my spoiled little bow laden, plaid jumper dressed self could have ever imagined. While I was busy playing with a doll that was made from a picture of me, some of the people in my classes had been homeless.
Hearing these numbers and the incredible stories of struggle, suffering and triumph, I quickly forgot all of the hardships I had faced in my life. My eating disorder suddenly seemed like a spoiled, rich, white girl problem compared to the students who had best friends shot in gang violence. My couponing to save a few bucks at the grocery store suddenly seemed ridiculous to the single mother on food stamps skipping meals to feed her daughter. My wondering how I was going to pay for grad school seemed insane compared to the guy beside me who has been taking out loans since the first day of freshman year while my father had been saving for my college education since the day I was born.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I realized what I had been doing.
Instead of using their stories to inspire and drive me forward in my social work career, I was playing the game of my bad times vs. your bad times. This is a bad trail to start down, because there is always someone who has had it worse than you. Always.
Other people don’t live your life. They don’t know what you have been through, or what you have accomplished. And while we shouldn’t walk around thinking that the world owes us something because we have had a tough go of it, we need to remember that each one of us brings something special to the table.
Your experiences aren’t going to be like anyone else’s.
I have talked to hundreds of people who have suffered with eating disorders, and not one of them has had my same experience.
shed self-doubt and embrace self-assurance
Find People Like You.
With seven billion people inhabiting Earth right now, with all different personalities and opinions, you won’t have to look far to find those who agree with you. Seek out your own kind for mutual support and growth.
Being around people who share your visions and goals is tremendously more helpful than trying to change those who have the opposite agenda of yours.
Find what you’re good at by clarifying your personal strengths.
Maybe you were particularly drawn to creative work but decided to become an accountant because your parents thought that was more sensible. Furthermore, you ended up focusing on improving weaknesses, which can never measure up to the power of just working with your strengths.
If you live up to who you naturally are daily, you’ll be one of the few who follows an authentic life. By flowing with your strengths, you gain greater work satisfaction and become invincible in your character.
Get out of your body.
Zoom out of yourself to place a particular opinion in perspective. Keep going upward until it’s nothing more than a speck of sand. These opinions look quite different from 100 miles above.
Or imagine looking back from ten years time. This incident will fade into shameful insignificance. As if it never happened. Think about this as you’re weighing up a certain opinion’s merit.
Go Your Own Way
You could spend your lifetime trying to beat everyone at everything, but that’s not going to be possible for anyone! Find your strengths you identified when you examined yourself, and set your goals up around those strengths.
Now is the time to start honoring your authentic values.