You’re Not a Landmark | Stop comparing yourself to others
So many people think they know you. They think they’ve got you figured out.
You grew up around them. Spent time with them. They learned something about you and decided they knew who you were.
So they told you about it.
You’re smart. You’re funny. You’re self-centered. You’re a natural athlete. You’re good at math. You’re fat.
Some of the traits are good. Some aren’t. But in the eyes of the people telling you who you are, they were permanent. They needed to think of you as permanent.
They want people to be consistent. To have the illusion of permanence like a rock at the end of their street. They want you to stay the same, so that they can use you as a landmark for the identity, like that rock in their yard is a landmark for their house.
They want you to be the smart, funny, overweight person so that they can be the caring and attractive person. They want you to conform to their expectations so that they can compare themselves to you.
You are the landmark they can look at to attempt to figure out who they are. That’s why they don’t want you to change. Change is a threat. If you change, who they are in comparison to you changes. Proper landmarks don’t change.
They don’t want you to lose weight because that would threaten them being better looking than you.
They don’t want you to start taking a professional certification because that endangers their identity of being more successful than you.
This is what happens when you spend lots of time around people who are comparing themselves to you. You are pushed to stay exactly as others want you to be when they are defining their identity in comparison to you.
That is why you have to leave.
You’ve got to break free of this group of people who thinks they know who you are. And, find people don’t expect you to be the same as you’ve always been. You need to go out and learn that who you are is not in comparison to the people around you.
Being funnier than a friend does not make you funny.
Making more money than a friend does no make you successful.
Thinking you will learn who you are by comparing yourself to others will leave you spending time around people that you don’t like, admire, or feel alive around.
When you move to a new city or go traveling for a few months, you give yourself space to grow. You have an opportunity to meet new people you connect with on a deeper level than just having gone to high school, or university together.
The new and changing aspects of your personality aren’t met with weird looks and discouragement. They are met with acceptance and curiosity.
So don’t be a landmark.
Don’t stay in a group of people who want to tell you who you are. Don’t let people discourage you from making the changes you want to make. And don’t use the people you know as landmarks either.
Remember that who you are isn’t in comparison to any of the people you know.
You are not a smarter but poorer version of one of your friends; you are simply you.
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Originally published at ryanaferguson.com on December 31, 2015.