We’ve all asked ourselves the question a thousand times, “Why can’t I look as good as that girl?” Or maybe it’s more like, “Why can’t I be as (fit, thin, skinny, pretty, confident, etc.) as her?” The comparison game is one we’ve all played and one that can have devastating consequences for both our self-worth, and identity.
So, let’s address the real root of these questions, and the truth underlying our innate desire, be it, our need, to compare ourselves with others.
- The standard: From a young age, we are taught from all the influencers in our lives, that we need to meet, and often exceed, some kind of standard. With our parents, it’s typically the expectation that we will get good grades, stay out of trouble, and behave. There’s also the added pressure from our parents, coaches, and teammates, that we will train hard, be a team player with a good attitude, and win every game. Our teachers expect us to be at the top of the class with grades, projects, and presentations. Our friends look to us for advice, community, and loyalty. Our siblings seek guidance, comfort, and often push us to our breaking points, while the entirety of the world around us seems to be staring us down saying, “Okay, what else have you got to prove your worth?” With these pressures, we would be crazy to think that we would not be influenced in some way. This often leads us to look at others as the standard that we must live up to, rather than looking at ourselves.
- Growing Pains: As we get older, we become more aware of our strengths, but also our flaws. As we grow into teenagers who experience the evils of high school, we are overwhelmed by images of perfection that we are told we need to attain. We see girls begin to wear makeup, and begin to dress in ways that express themselves. We become aware of the attention that our peers show us. We are hurt by the heart-wrenching comments about our appearances: the way we do our hair, the clothes we wear, the pimples on our skin. As teenagers, we are more often molded by the things we lack than the skills, talents, and traits we possess. As we move into our college years, we often think we have outgrown the ‘juvenile, high school’ thinking. We trick ourselves into believing we are wise and knowledgeable, and more self-aware. Most of the time, however, we are even more influenced during our college years than high school. Because of our freedoms and the new and exciting nature of the world around us, we neglect to look at the influences that actually have a greater impact on our development than we understand. Romantic relationships become a defining factor of our worth, while new friendships and the desire to ‘be known’ tug at our core and push us into a strong desire for community. This desire for deep relationships, however, can leave us feeling empty, heartbroken, and lost if the relationships do not pan out the way we had hoped. We begin to look at others and think, “Why can’t I have what they have? Why can’t I be more beautiful, like her?”
- We Want What We Don’t Have: Let’s be honest, we want what we don’t have. This can be for any area of our lives but is so often displayed in how we look. If we have curly hair, we want straight hair. If we have a flat stomach, we want more defined abs. If we are muscular, we want to be thinner. No matter how we look, we are never truly satisfied, because there will always be aspects of someone else’s appearance that we desire as well. It’s easy to begin looking at the people around us and comparing what we have to what they have.
The comparison game is inevitable, because, let’s face it, we’re human. But, we can choose to control the comparisons or give into the lies. At the end of the day, God made each of us uniquely beautiful and, similarly, in His image. Therefore, we are unique like snowflakes, AND, we are distinct in the fact that each of us is the only one of us that will ever exist! So, be bold, be beautiful, be you!