In preschool, I had a best friend; let’s call her Taylor. We were friends instantaneously, because she let me play in the rice box with her on my first day–that’s what friends are for, right? She invited me over, I invited her over, we met up at Chili’s with our families and she came with me to church sometimes. It was the life… then John Paul entered the picture.
John Paul was the boy to like. He was cute and had glasses. I was a bold 4-year-old, and I liked him, so I figured he liked me. Cue a younger Olivia chasing an unwilling John Paul around the playground. It ended in me forcibly kissing John Paul, and John Paul, running away with tears streaming down his face. It should’ve been love, right? It wasn’t.
One day, Taylor and I were playing an imaginary game, in which John Paul joined. He was a pirate, and one girl was allowed to be a princess. Much to my surprise, John Paul wanted Taylor to be the princess. This stung immensely, because he had chosen her over me.
Now, keep in mind that I was in preschool, and the maturity of a 4 year old is not easily comparable with adults, but nevertheless I have held onto this memory many years after, struggling in a game of comparison with some of the people I love most.
Everyone has struggled with comparing themselves to other people. Whether a stranger, a celebrity or a loved one, we have all played that game where we find ourselves inadequate in comparison to another, and thus jealousy and envy grow in multitude.
Imagine asking someone who they thought was the prettiest or smartest person and they responded, “Well it’s not you. You’re a close second though.” Naturally, we would be hurt and then become angry and jealous. But over time I’ve realized that it wasn’t my friend that made me insecure. It was when I believed that because she was chosen, I didn’t have worth or that I wasn’t made good enough. I, we, have allowed comparison to dictate how we see ourselves and thus able to destroy countless relationships we have with others.
We are incredibly focused on the image that appears before us, whether it be looks or reputation, and we allow outside influences tell us how much we are worth. When we use other people and their relationships to compare our inadequacy and it is always a dead-end. We do not move forward, we only go in circles, constantly doubting our worth.
Next time you find yourself ready to play a quick, pickup game of comparison, remind yourself of these things:
1. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side; every person in this world is struggling against a battle you have no idea about. We all have things that we don’t like about ourselves.
2. Not everyone is the same. You will struggle, everyone does. But you can also succeed with things that others do not.
3. There is no one else in the world like you.
If you spend the rest of your life fighting who you are, rather than celebrating your strengths, the world will never get to experience what you can offer. Love yourself. Only then will you be satisfied with who you truly are.
In short, remind yourself of how necessary you are, individually, to this life. Stop comparing yourself. Don’t let yourself believe the lies. Rid yourself of previous disappointments. Give yourself a compliment every once in awhile, but most importantly never forget that originality is truly, the most admirable and attractive quality.
You rock. Yeah, I mean YOU.
Photography: Shandi-lee Cox/ Flickr