Shontel Zamora, MPA

“Really, that person? Why? I don’t get it?” Have you ever found yourself comparing your life to someone else’s? How many times have you compared your educational milestones, financial status, career progression, home, family, car, vacations, or even your looks with those of another person? Have you ever compared yourself to a colleague who seems to have it all together or even just compared yourself to where you thought you would be by now?  I did, I still do, and I probably will always find myself at some point or another comparing myself to others.

Most recently, I found myself comparing my career movements to a colleague who had just received a new position in another department that included a huge compensation increase. This person has always been a great employee and absolutely deserved the opportunity, but I still found myself comparing myself to them. It was like seeing the glossy, Photoshopped images of Instagram in real life. I was happy for him but also started to second guess myself, “I should have been doing that by now.” Right as I was about to go spiraling into frenzy of “was I good enough?” I remembered something I learned about a year ago: When you measure yourself up to others it leaves you falling behind.

When you focus on trying to play catch-up with another’s educational, professional, or even social milestones, you end up falling further behind. Not only do you fall further behind, but it can also have severe negative effects on your mental health.

There is a way out this comparison cycle. You can transform your vision. The first thing is to accept that trying to not compare yourself with others is a challenge. It will most likely have to be a conscious decision you will have to make each day.

The second thing to acknowledge is that you are not alone in this struggle—everyone compares themselves to someone. There will always be someone bigger and better, but that’s okay. The third thing is to understand is that not everything is what it seems. For every Instagram post (whether on social media or in real life) there were 1,000 deleted photos first. You may see the end result but missed all the work put into it.

These were just a few things that helped me the past few weeks to keep me focused on my growth and not get caught in the frenzy around me. I hope some of this can be helpful to you too. Remember sometimes it’s good just to disconnect for awhile.