The True Price of Comparison

Story by Anna Kendall
Feature Photo by Amy Cain

If you’ve ever seen “Mean Girls”, you can probably recall the scene where the “plastics” stand in front of the mirror in Regina’s room, picking out every little thing that is wrong with their bodies. While the scene is meant to be hyperbolic and comical, it’s dialogue isn’t different from the inner commentary that many people direct at themselves everyday.

For me and my friends, this kind of scenario plays out every time some award show is on. We sit around snacking and working on homework, complaining about what’s wrong with our bodies or our lives.

Comparing Ourselves to Others
Every day, we’re plagued with images and phrases that leave us constantly comparing ourselves to unattainable standards. From the paper-thin blonde on the cover of a magazine and the chiseled hunk of man splashed across your TV screen, to the person sitting next to you in biology who gets an A on every exam.

You sit and wonder why you don’t look like that, or why you aren’t that smart. Why you can’t perform like the athletes you watch every weekend, or why you’ll never be as passionate and driven as those receiving honors and awards.

In a lot of ways, it seems like this type of comparison doesn’t cost much. I mean, it’s free to stare at the cover of a magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store and then hate yourself for hours after, isn’t it?

It doesn’t cost anything to believe that’s what you’re supposed to look like or perform like, and that you’re the only one falling short.

But in reality, the cost of such comparison is your self-confidence, your self-worth and your happiness. The more you look at others as what you want to be, the more upset you will become with yourself.

You can no longer see your pretty smile; you just see a pudgy waist. You don’t remember your killer sense of humor; you just see shoulders that are too broad. You don’t remember how talented you are at leading a team; all you see is your lower grades and red-inked papers.

When you’re busy comparing yourself to other people, you forget about how awesome you really are, and once you start, you can’t stop. All you’ll ever be able to see are your imperfections, rather than the wonderful things that make you, you.

Ways to Break the Negative Cycle
So how do you stop comparing yourself, when it’s what society is tempting you to do everyday?

You can’t. Honestly, as much as it sucks to constantly be comparing yourself and feeling awful because of it, you can’t really stop. All you can do is change your mindset.

Sure, the model might have the “perfect” body. But does she give killer advice like you do? Did she make the dean’s list last semester? Is she going to lead a career that will change people’s lives? Who knows. It doesn’t matter, because those are all things that you did, or will do.

Every time you feel yourself getting down about how you don’t measure up to other people, recite to yourself some of your own incredible unique qualities. Remind yourself that while you might not be the most attractive or the most athletic, you have plenty of other qualities that make you unique and lovable.

Your admirable qualities far outweigh those that aren’t as reverent. Don’t forget about them in the midst of lusting after positive qualities you feel you don’t possess. The true cost of comparison is losing sight of who you are.

Don’t let that happen; instead, change your mindset, change your perception of yourself and never forget what makes you the beautiful human being that you are.