Have you ever looked around you at your "friends", family members or celebrities and felt like you were being left behind? As if they were all achieving so many goals that you start to wonder: "Hey, when is it going to be my turn? Or better yet, will this ever happen to me too?"
I suffered through this complex for a better part of my junior and senior year of high school when I realized a lot of my friends got into Ivy League schools all the way in the US, or that they were taking a gap year to work. It seemed as if everyone was finally going to experience their college dreams abroad while I was in Tanzania, with barely having anything figured out.
I had fear and anxiety growing inside me every day because of this. Maybe it was because I was so used to having things planned out for me instead.
I had, and if I am being honest, still have these overwhelming thoughts that I’m probably going to just be another extra or another background character to all of my friends' stories. All of this stemmed just from seeing a few of my friends already looking successful. Some had become small but growing influencers on social media, another had started a YouTube channel, and the girl I sat next to in class had started an online business that is taking off. As proud as I am of them, I just couldn’t help but feed the hungry thought that maybe I'd never be as impressive as they were.
Like where was my shining moment? When will it happen to me? This ate me up to the point where even posting something on Instagram became hard for me and I always hit the discard button. That annoying and degrading voice in my head would taunt me and remind me of how anything I do would ever be good enough. There were so many people out there with better content than me, so why even try?
Fast forward to a few months later, I finally understood that I had a comparison complex. I constantly used to compare every single detail about my social life with people I idolized even my closest friends. I understand they would never rub it in my face to taunt me but the insecurity that I was being left behind became an obsession.
So what I did was that I decided to spend less time on the apps that I believed just added salt to the wound such as Instagram. I went from spending half my day on there to just mainly opening it at night. With Snapchat, I stopped doing streaks which ultimately led to me rarely opening it to check out peoples' stories. This small action helped immensely in building my self confidence.
If I wasn’t seeing the things that triggered me negatively, like a classmate posting their new college jersey, I wouldn't compare myself to them as much. I also reduced talking to some of the friends that brought out these insecurities in me. Not out of hate or envy, but I needed to focus more myself. To build the person I wanted to turn into rather than compare my current state to the picture of my best friend in Australia.
Just to be clear, I celebrate my friends' accomplishments but putting distance between them and me was my way of learning how to celebrate myself instead.
Now I know that a comparison complex can be triggered by other things, which might not necessarily be the need to be successful like mine was; but here’s a few tips I hope will help you through this phase the same way they helped me:
Now I want to end with this quote; “ You’re so busy doubting yourself, while others are intimidated by your potential”. This quote reminded me daily that the way I was thinking about how all my classmates were moving forward was the same way that some of them might view me. Someone could be looking up to you and you wouldn’t even know it! I hope this helped you. I want you to know that It will get better. It will take time but it will. Try channelling that obsession with comparing yourself with others to comparing yourself with who you were yesterday and who you want to be tomorrow.