The Disease of Comparison
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Look at your cousin.
He is smarter.
He is successful.
He is happy.
Look at your friend...
She is richer.
She is beautiful.
She is successful.
Look at your neighbours...
See their house.
Look at their car.
Look at the school their kids go to.
I wish I had the same.
I'll never have what they have.
Their life is easier.
Their life is nicer.
They are lucky.
I am not.
I've been thinking a lot about comparison and why it's heavily emphasized in our society.
In the Arab world, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others.
It's easy to choose others to be your guide for making important life decisions.
It's common to set other people's lifestyle as a standard for measuring the quality of your life.
You are often encouraged and sometimes even forced to follow in the footsteps of your peers: siblings, relatives, friends, neighbours, etc...
And when you don't follow or compare yourself to others, you are considered to be increasing your chances of falling behind them and being delayed in your life.
I believe there are two reasons why we compare ourselves to each other in the Arab world: Certainty, and External Pressure.
Living in an unstable region, Arabs are obsessed with building a secure and stable life. Comparison is important in our society because it provides us certainty and clarity.
It allows us to navigate life knowing what's ahead by following already carved paths.
It gives us the feeling of security and the illusion of control.
Your life is laid out to you through other people's choices.
All you have to do is to just follow and compare.
For example, if someone has studied medicine and now is a doctor driving a Ferrari, people may start to believe that anyone who studies medicine will become a doctor driving a fancy car (or able to afford a fancy car).
Whether this doctor was in debt for the car, or they were unhappy in their job, people can only see the surface image of a rich and happy man with a high status title, and a clear carved path towards that image.
They'll compare themselves to that image, and will build their life decisions around it.
As Arabs, we were raised to comply with systems and to work towards competitive measures at school, at work, and in every aspect of life. This has built external pressure on us and has made the comparison game easier and quantifiable.
- At school, you compare yourself to others through grades.
- At work, you compare based on pay, company name, position level, awards, and promotions.
- In other areas in life, comparison is measured based on: marital status, number of children, quality of lifestyle, beauty, family name, religious commitment, and the list goes on...
It's natural to compare yourself to others every once in a while. It can inspire you with new ideas and new ways of thinking.
What is not natural is when this comparison turns into a blind race (or into hunger games).
When it withholds you from being yourself. And when it gives you a false idea of who you should be.
My invitation to you is to always notice when you fall for comparing yourself to others.
Whenever it happens, remind yourself that we are not in a race. That this image you are trying to arrive at does not even belong to you.
Set that image free.
And find one where you can compare yourself to your.... self.
Yours in Magic,