Comparison

Don’t overcompare yourself. Read, revise, enjoy.

-Ben

People are in constant pursuit of ideals falsely formed from fragmented pieces of the nearest perfect reality joined by imagined connective tissue.

I logged onto Facebook. I saw that Francesca had canceled her bar-b-q! event. Great. That was my one preplanned event for spring break. She said, in a Facebook message, that she was asked, last minute, to the beach. Even better. For the next week, my Facebook news feed was overrun with “Hello pcb!” and “gonna get down tonight!”

I, like everyone else, am in constant danger of overcomparison. It is human nature for a person to compare himself or herself to other people. This is how we define our success, how we compete for success, how we choose partners- it’s a way of life. There are two major kinds of comparison. There is healthy comparison and there is unhealthy comparison. Healthy comparison is what keeps people from failing their homework and from slacking off in their jobs. Healthy comparison is the parent of healthy competition which is the motor behind a constantly improving society. Without comparison there is no competition. Without competition there is no life.

Unhealthy comparison is what most people mistakenly accept as life, although we must remember that all life is seen through our eyes. We hold the filter that defines our personal reality. We too often let that filter cloud our eyes and let in an unhealthy amount of toxic material. Take my own Facebook for example. A few nights ago I wrote, “dragonball movie, ice cream, and cheez-its.” A couple people “liked” it. It sounds like I had a good night. Someone reading that must assume I had a good night and must derive that I am enjoying my spring break. Because I am enjoying my break, I must be enjoying my situation in life. Because I have 535 Facebook friends and because I exchange pleasantries with many people in the halls at school, I must be popular. Wow, happy and popular, now that’s a tough combination to come by. I must be an amazing person to be happy and popular, and so young.

Wait. Am I happy and popular? I wrote a status that described what was truthfully the peak of my spring break. It is also true that I have 535 Facebook friends and that I say hi to people at school. But I have, or rather the person who read my status has created this fantasy that I am some admirable, amazing person just because I had a mediocre night and have a couple Facebook friends and people say hi to me.

Why? Why do people imagine these complex fantasies and then trick themselves into believing reality? For the answer, simply look inside yourself at what you want: you want perfection. Everybody wants perfection. You can’t achieve it in your life. But other people must be able to achieve it in theirs. So you compare yourself to fragments of another person that you fill in with perfection. You can never win.

This is especially prevalent in online social sites. Social sites like Facebook are the perfect breeding ground for false realities. A person with a profile posts their best photos and writes about their best nights and talks about parties and pranks and fun with their friends. Facebook is, for the most part, void of sadness and ugliness. After all, ugliness and sadness can’t compete with the perfection that shines through most Facebook profiles. Why post something that will tarnish your online image? A Facebook profile does not equal a person. Facebook profiles are artistic creations. Each one is a person’s creation, not a person’s representation. If a person only posts their admirable qualities, then their profile represents only their admirable qualities, not their whole self. People put only their best foot forward on internet sites. Treat them as such.

Because of people’s narrow outward vision, you will always be the ugliest and most beautiful person you know. You know more about yourself than you do anyone else. You spend more time with yourself than you do anyone else. You know all of your imperfections, every single disgusting, shameful demon that you push to the shadows when you’re in public. Everyone carries demons, but only you know yours and only your friend knows your friend’s. Know that next time you embarrassedly peek over your shoulder to make sure your demons are away. Your friend is doing the same.

I can’t leave you thinking that everyone is ugly and you must look for ugliness. People are not ugly, just fragmented. You only see a piece of a person at each meeting; only a piece of a person makes it onto the internet; only a piece of a person greets you in public. Don’t compare yourself to what you do not know in another person. You would be surprised how you compare to a whole person.

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About Brad,Robert,Ben

We are three kids from three different time zones, with one common goal. This is our voice:
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3 Responses to Comparison

  1. Tom Davis says:

    Great point!

    I would add that the most important comparison a person can make is not themselves to someone else, but how they stack up to who they want to be.

  2. Chuck says:

    This is terrific insight for everyone, much less a young man at your stage of life. Too much of the anxiety each of us carries with us is based on an incomplete impression of those around us. Keep us the great work!

  3. lsawyer713 says:

    My worst personality trait is comparing myself to everyone else around me. Your comment is great about what we are seeing of this one person is just one piece. We only see… they have tons of friends or they are a doctor or they say hi to everyone in the halls or they dress nicely. We don’t see that that person who you think is so perfect might cry themself to sleep at night because of all the personal problems they have had previous to right now.
    You are right, what we are comparing to is our WHOLE person to the very small piece of that person! hmmm, definitely a different way of looking at things.

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