Are You the Apple or the Orange?
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Increase Your Self-Esteem!
What are you doing, Patricia? It was 5:59 a.m. I’d just awakened and listened to my affirmations when a good friend crossed my mind. So I decided to send her a quick message on Facebook. But when I got to Facebook, I was pulled in to the newsfeed. I myself “liking” a picture of a friend with her new grandbaby.
Then I caught myself and said, WTF Patricia. Social media so early? Why are you on Facebook, anyway? Oh, that’s right send Verna that message. And I did.
Then for whatever reason, I didn’t put my phone down and went over to check LinkedIn. I saw an alert there that I had to check. But before I did, I saw the first thing at the top of my newsfeed. It was a post about author and founder of The Memo, Minda Harts. It pulled me in.
Long story short I started researching her. I thought that she might be a fantastic guest for my podcast. She recently released her book, The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table. Harts helps women of color navigate their corporate careers, and speaks of courage.
As I listened to the sample from her audiobook and as I read more about her, I started to wonder if she would even be interested in being a guest on my podcast. I thought, what she is doing seems so much more empowering than what I am doing.
Then I caught myself in the comparison game. What Minda is doing is not more empowering than what I’m doing, its merely different from what I’m doing. Her mission is different from my mission, and it is targeting a different audience.
A few days ago, I interviewed a police officer, Carol Adams, who started the Carol Adams Foundation to help victims of domestic violence. What she is doing is saving lives. So when I spoke with her and uncovered her story to share on the Discovering Courage podcast, I felt a similar way. I felt like my mission was so much less important than Carol’s.
I told myself, what I’m doing with my business seems so insignificant compared to what Carol is doing in her career and her nonprofit. She is saving lives and breaking the cycle of violence. What am I doing, really?
As I was reading about Minda Harts, I was reminded of this comparison I’d made between Carol and me. I became aware that I was comparing, once again, two people and missions that are different, and are both making their own unique impact on humanity.
Comparison can be cruel, especially when we are not aware we are doing it. Trying to assess whether an apple or an orange is better is a futile exercise. We know this, so we don’t do it. However, we look at other people and compare ourselves to them—their appearance, their lifestyle, their “success”, their intellect, their life purpose, whatever it is we are putting in the spotlight — and we allow ourselves to measure our worth against an unequal gauge. We can get down on ourselves because, in our minds, we don’t seem to measure up.
Human beings are so much more complex than apples and oranges, yet we allow ourselves to compare who we are and how worthy we are to who we see, on a very superficial level, others to be.
When we compare ourselves to someone who has so many more years’ experience, we set ourselves up for disappointment. When we compare ourselves to someone whose mission is different from our mission, we can come up short. There are so many facets on which we can compare ourselves to others; but, when we do, we do ourselves an injustice because they are all unfair comparisons.
Instead, compare yourself today to who you were yesterday. Have you learned? Have you grown? Are you working toward improving what does not suit you in your life? That is a far better comparison to make. Because even if you can’t answer yes to these questions, your negative response can be your wake-up call to begin to make some changes.
Comparing yourself to someone else will never serve you. It is a recipe for lower self-esteem and self-confidence. Even if you deem yourself to be better than the other person, you have sold yourself short because you have discounted something in them. You might miss opportunities to learn things about or from them that could help you grow. You could potentially even help them and, in so doing, lift up humanity indirectly, if you don’t judge them.
So the next time you start to feel down on yourself because you have fallen into the comparison trap, tell yourself, “It’s apples and oranges. There is no comparison.”