The secret enemy

“The only thing more dangerous than an enemy; is an enemy disguised as a friend.” 

Comparison can be very useful; I’m all too thankful for its being when faced with a cocktail list. Without it I’d be unable to quickly spot whether a Woo Woo or a Mai Tai will be more valuable during my regular quests to get shitfaced. Having likely saved me from a starring role on the hit list of many impatient barmaids it makes perfect sense to befriend such a soul. Or does it?

Truth is comparison has a sinister side; an ugly step sister; an awful after affect.

It cunningly fools us into thinking it’s a philanthropist: Come hither poverty-ridden students; trust moi when deciding where to purchase your own brand beans, together we’ll look after those precious pennies. 

Uhm, sure, ok.. Tesco or ASDA?

BAM! Just as you’re about to skip off into the sunset with your money saving, decision aiding bestie it all goes wrong. Think back to what Snow White taught you people. That magic mirror never once gave the Evil Queen the answer she wanted once her step-daughter was on the scene and a similar fate awaits anyone over-reliant on comparison.

You can innocently sneak a glance into that mirror, happier with your figure after a good work out – BAM: someone skinnier than you.

You present it your latest grades, they’re better than your last – BAM: someone smarter than you..

Huh. It’s pulling you in; you need to know more. Mirror mirror, is she more employable than me? More loveable than me?

Fuck, is their sex life as good as ours?…

You get the picture.

We’re ALL guilty of it (if you think you’re not feel free to come and wrestle this keyboard off me) but it’s a sin we needn’t feel overly ashamed of. Comparison is human nature, human nature is hard to fight, and besides sometimes taking a good look around us, at what others are doing or achieving, is a much needed kick up the backside. In knowledge of this I would never advocate not being competitive. (Plus, I personally find people without a competitive streak quite dull; they never really seem passionate about anything). But there is a key difference in competitive behaviour fuelled by ambition and comparative behaviour fuelled by bitterness. Like everything in life – we must practice balance.

The devil child is born

I might add that in this day and age another beast lives amongst us. Comparison has spawned a devil child and it crept into our lives armed with a false passport. I’m referring, of course, to Social Media.

It’s easy to wake up in a good mood only to find it evaporates after a half hour spent gorging over Instagram leaving us comparing our dull reality with the ‘IT’ girls perfectly filtered highlight reel. But remember, for most, that’s all it is.

No one types a status about their ‘epic time’ applying for five grad schemes a day or failing six interviews in the last month but they’ll be more than happy to tell the world when they’ve signed a contract; leaving the unemployed deflated and uninspired.

No one will call upon 140 characters to share why they went home before midnight last night but they’re sure to upload 507 photos from pre-drinks claiming to have ‘the best friends ever’. Oh. The same best friends you argued with and took a taxi home alone because of? Seems legit that.

My top tips for staying on the good side of comparison 

  • Take a step back and compare your situation to your own but six months ago not those around you or plastered down your timeline
  • NEVER compare something you can’t change such as the past, nothing good will come from it, focus on the future
  • Remember social media only portrays the parts of someones life they want you to see
  • Remain competitive not comparative and stay mindful of the differences
  • If you do compare your situation to others use where they are as a goal and create realistic, timely plans to join them not simply wallow in self-pity
  • If you’re truly happy with a part of your life bury that desire to compare six feet under stat; ignorance is bliss my friend
  • Comparing units is always the best way to choose a cocktail (until your earning say, £50k a year, then go ahead and base it on taste..)

Lottsa love, Char x

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