Comparing your achievements: why it never works

This post came about after a conversation I had with an ex-colleague yesterday, about the biographies of some new interns in her organization. They’ve done so much! she sighed. I feel so incompetent compared to them!

This post is my response to that 🙂

Let’s play a game…

Girl 1:

Girl 1 is a sought-after and experienced corporate events planner. She has organized celebrity events (David Attenborough), parties, receptions for 500 people, large-scale conferences and seminars, in multiple countries and time zones across the world.

She has worked for Bloomsbury publishing (publishers of Harry Potter), a disability rights organization, and a top London law firm.

girl happy
(This is not me, by the way 🙂 )

She is 5 foot 11 inches, with a slender build and long legs, and people comment that she should be a model. She has long blonde hair and dresses well.

Her friends describe her as: happy, adventurous, sociable, kind, grounded, focused, active, and honest, among other qualities.

She has a degree in French and Russian, and also speaks Italian and Serbian.

She volunteers regularly, and over the years has taken part in conservation projects around London, Russian-English translation for a not-for-profit organization, working at a Russian orphanage, helping inner-city schoolchildren learn to read, and helping at disabled swimming clubs in both England and Canada – to name but a few.

She moved to Canada three years ago on her own, and has since met her long-term boyfriend, who she lives with on the 16th floor of a south-facing apartment, where they enjoy beautiful ocean views and relaxing at the beach across the road.


Girl 2:

Girl 2 sometimes feels really down. She took a test recently and it said she has moderate to severe depression. When she looks in the mirror, she worries about wrinkles, the sun damage she’s exposed herself to, and sees her crooked and yellow teeth, and thin lips.

Sometimes she feels friendly and loved, more often she feels like she has no friends. She worries about this a lot.

sad dog
Sad puppy 😦

She can’t speak her mind, and will do anything to avoid confrontation. She feels scared a lot of the time, even in normal, day-to-day activities that shouldn’t make her anxious. She doesn’t push herself as much as she feels she should, and she feels like everyone else would do better in situations than she would.

She lives away from her family, and feels bad that she’s not there for them and doesn’t see them often. She carries an ever-present sense of guilt around with her because of this.

She sometimes can’t be bothered to go out – she can be incredibly lazy. She has to push herself even to do simple things sometimes, like make dinner.

She has realized recently that she interrupts people and doesn’t always listen to what they’re saying.

She is very picky with her friends and expects a lot (too much?) from them. If someone doesn’t have what she considers to be a good sense of humour, she tries to get away from them. She has little patience with people, especially if they even hint at negativity.

She is skinny because of her genes, but at some point it will turn into saddlebags, a gunt (look it up), wobbly arms and more cellulite than she has now.


Who are these people?

You probably know the answer…

They are both me!

The top one is me, absolutely selling myself. It sounds ridiculous and arrogant, but it’s all true. I jazzed it up to the max. (It did feel weird and false doing it!)

The second one is also absolutely true.

This is me. I am both. Good times and bad. Love myself, hate myself.

My point is, be careful what you take in when you see someone else’s life story. Especially if you’re comparing yourself to it.

We are generally shown the top paragraph of people’s lives. Very rarely are we shown the bottom one.

I’m not saying we should all go around saying what is wrong with our lives.

I’m just saying, read between the lines. Be smart with it. By all means respect and admire people for their achievements, but don’t put yourself down because you don’t compare – comparison makes us feel crap!

We’ve all read bios where you think, Holy fuck! They have done so much with their life! And I haven’t done anything!

It’s great to have people to inspire us.

But look at the other point of view – the part you don’t see:

X is a CEO of a top Fortune 500 company, and earned a six-figure bonus last year.

But how much time does he spend with his kids?

X has won her third gold medal and she is only 24.

When was the last time she went out for beers and relaxed with her friends?

X has just won the prestigious Top 30 Under 30 award.

Does he ever feel afraid? Does he hate what he does, but is too scared to lose it all? Or lost track of what his passion was, along the way?

My aim is not to deride these people, who have all had awesome achievements.

My point is: don’t compare your life directly with theirs, without knowing the full story.

Anything can look good if you want it to! 🙂

Today’s challenge: What does your Version 1 story look like?! Write it down, for a confidence boost.

(And no being shy or modest, okay?!)

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