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April 29, 2024

Why “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”

By Kate P.
, 16
, from San Juan Capistrano, CA

With college decisions to make, courses being selected, and grades coming out soon, it can be easy to compare yourself to the people around you. Whether through social media or your direct social circle, it’s easy to see someone else’s life and wonder what yours is like in comparison to theirs. 


This doesn’t just happen with topics related to school either. It might be comparing our social lives, sports results, and participation in other extracurricular activities. 


All of this leaves us with the question: How do we avoid this toxic cycle of comparison? Here’s what works for me.


First, remember that when we begin comparing ourselves to others, we are basing this comparison on only one perspective—the one that someone wants the public eye to see. It’s a perspective that says: life is perfect, everything is flawless. Especially on social media, but also in person, we often buy into this fantasy, and this fantasy can cause us to spiral and look negatively at what we are doing with our own lives. A helpful tip once given to me was that what you see on social media is a collage of everyone’s best moments. But one moment does not capture what the journey to that moment was like. Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and other platforms are not as open a book as we all believe them to be as we’re comparing.


Second, focusing on comparison takes away from your own accomplishments and joy. There is a well-known saying that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparing yourself to others can cast a shadow on what you have built in your own life. We tend to minimize our own accomplishments and pride when we compare ourselves to someone who might be doing something that appears to be “better” or more “prestigious.”. We might even see our accomplishments as less impressive because we have seen every step of our own journey. We have been witness to the highs and lows, the good days and bad. We can’t see other people’s ups and downs; we can only see the end result. 


Which brings me to my final point: Everyone’s journey throughout life is different and unique, and the more we learn to value our own path, the less focused we’ll be on comparing ourselves to others. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself, because that is how we grow and develop as people.

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