It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. You see someone with more success than you and wonder, Why them and not me?
Always comparing yourself to others can leave you bitter if you do it too much, and don’t know all the facts. Jealousy is so unattractive, it’s easy to spot from faraway.
Unless you know the person’s age, education, occupation, number of hours worked, and enabling relationships, comparing yourself is a futile game.
THE PERSON WHO ALWAYS HAS MORE
Nancy is overweight, stands 5 feet 2 inch tall, and at 30 years old, makes about $90,000 a year as an “internet marketer”. She’s got three years of experience and thinks she’s the bomb. ”Dear Readers, I am the Queen because I make so much online! Yihaw!” Writing about how successful she is to the world helps with her self-esteem because she was never very well liked growing up and no guy asked her to the prom. Nancy was actually a very pleasant person before she started making a lot of money. Unfortunately, money changed her for the worse.
All is good until Nancy meets her online nemesis, Jessica. Jessica is in internet marketing as well, but claims to make $250,000 a year online. Not only that, Jessica is two years younger than Nancy at 28, stands 5 feet 8 inches, with beautiful skin, and is drop dead gorgeous! Given Jessica makes $250,000 a year online, she’s much less vocal about her success because she knows her income is much larger than most incomes. Jessica is every guys dream girl, and as a result, she’s never short of attention.
Nancy just can’t stand Jessica. Every chance Nancy gets to throw cheap shots at Jessica, she does. From talking bad behind Jessica’s back, to stealing Jessica’s ideas, to leaving passive aggressive comments, Nancy does it all!
AND THEN THERE IS ONE MORE!
About a year of jealousy passes before Nancy and Jessica stumble across another internet marketer named Michelle. Michelle makes $500,000 a year online, is just as beautiful as Jessica, but is also a wonderful wife and a mother of two! At 32 years old, Michelle got her MBA from Columbia and had a successful stint at a start-up before jumping feet first into the online marketing space five years ago.
Michelle has a loving husband and is always being invited to interview on TV by local and national stations. Nancy and Jessica can’t help but see Michelle everywhere, online and offline. Both women aren’t pleased, but Nancy in particular is wondering what the hell! How can there be a woman I hate more than Jessica? Michelle makes 5X more than me, is better looking, has a hunky husband who looks like George Clooney, and has a beautiful boy and girl!
Nancy goes berserk, and does her best to spread nasty rumors not only about Jessica, but also about her newest nemesis, Michelle. Every other sentence that comes out of Nancy’s mouth is about how Michelle is such a fake, and how she’s out of touch with the real world. Nancy’s favorite spew is that Michelle spends more on cosmetics and plastic surgery than the average household income a year!
Curiously, Jessica begins to look up to Michelle as an older version of herself after realizing there’s no point being jealous. As a beautiful woman herself, Jessica knows that she too can have it all. Unfortunately for Nancy, not so much.
LET’S UNDERSTAND THE LADIES BETTER
You can see how constantly comparing yourself to others constantly leads to unhappiness. Nancy is so insecure with herself, that instead of focusing her energy on building her business and affecting that which she can change, she’s occupied with other people’s successes instead.
Nancy: Was a B student in high school, attended Iowa State, and landed a $30,000 a year job as a clerical worker. Her parents are divorced and make a combined $50,000 a year. Nancy has always wanted to be a mom. She got married when she was 25 to a man that she’s unsure is fit to be a good father. She felt that if she didn’t marry him then, she would never get married because nobody wanted an older, dumpier version of herself. Her husband doesn’t have a stable, well-paying job, and isn’t motivated to succeed as much as Nancy. As a result, Nancy feels like she has to be the major breadwinner in order to fulfill her dreams of having a family. The pressure is killing her. Nancy means well, but she is immature. Her lack of self-esteem constantly makes her channel energy towards things that are a waste of time.
Jessica: Was an A student in high school, attended UCLA on a partial scholarship, and landed a $50,000 a year job in internet software sales. Her parents are still together and make a combined $500,000 a year as doctors living in Beverly Hills. Jessica was prom queen her senior year and always dated the most popular guys in school. Ever since Jessica was a baby, everybody adored her because she was and is so beautiful. Jessica didn’t have to try as hard as others to get ahead, because people were always giving her free passes. Despite her cushy life, Jessica decided she didn’t want to get ahead based on her looks and other people’s charity. As a result, she purposefully tried to hide her looks by tying up her hair in a bun, wearing glasses and baggy clothes, and no make up. Jessica worked harder and longer than all her classmates and co-workers to prove to everyone that she wasn’t defined by her looks. Even still, she couldn’t avoid every male she encounters wanting to buy her a drink, invite her to events, and give her promotions she thought she didn’t deserve. As a result, she decided to quit her job and try make it on her own as an entrepreneur.
Michelle: Was the valedictorian of her class, went to Harvard on a full scholarship, and joined an internet startup for $100,000 a year with options that could potentially be worth millions. Michelle’s parents died in a car accident when she was 13 years old. As a result, Michelle was raised by her alcoholic uncle was secretly abused her. At the age of 16, Michelle had enough and reported him to the police where they sentenced him to 8 years in prison. Michelle moved on to stay with foster parents until she was old enough to go to college. The internet start-up Michelle joined ended up going bankrupt, but Michelle learned more in those several years than any other job could have taught her. Undeterred, Michelle started her own firm with the savings she had and toiled away non-stop for 15 hours a day for one year before she made her first sale. Years later, her company was making millions a year in profits, so she decided to set up her own charitable foundation. Her charity helps abused female children just like herself through counseling, education, and financial aid for college. During her charity event, she met her future husband. And from there, the rest is history.
COMPARISONS WILL LEAD TO MISERY IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE FULL STORY
We can’t stop comparing ourselves to others. But, unless we know everything there is to know about the other person, we’ll always find some perceived injustices that will make us unhappy. Upon hearing Jessica and Michelle’s full story, Nancy no longer hates them and begins to collaborate.
I suggest everyone look for the story behind the story. When you see someone who is more successful than you, get INSPIRED! Look to understand what they did to get to where they are. See these people as mentors rather than competitors. If you do, not only will you get farther in life, you’ll be much happier as well.
Readers, is it impossible to stop comparing ourselves to others? What are the ways in which you have replaced jealousy with something positive?
How do men and women compare in terms of their jealousy levels? Why?
Photo: From Forbes, who borrowed it from public domain.