Social comparison is a common behaviour that I believe most of us do, whether we notice it or not. In common words, it is to compare anything about ourselves to others and make judgments based on it.
Personally, I used to do it a lot. For me, sports were not the main focus in my life before coming to Stanstead. Once I became a student here, Phys-Ed class was my least favourite class. I had no idea what most of the games that we played were and struggled a lot. For example, I didn’t know how to play floor hockey and I was running around with a stick like a fool in class. Usually, I didn’t touch the ball once in an entire class. I was afraid to be on a team because I didn’t want to mess up my teammates. That is when social comparison occurred to me; I couldn’t stop myself from doing that since we were evaluated in the class. I was constantly discouraged by the differences between myself and others. I felt like I didn’t have a talent for playing sports.
However, I shouldn’t have done it because I didn’t know how much experience my classmates had in the game. So my comparison really wasn’t a fair one, but it destroyed my confidence in my physical abilities.
That is the reason why I want to encourage you not to practice social comparison. There are so many ways in which we can compare ourselves to others, but there are always other factors at play which cannot be fully analyzed. Therefore, whether we are better or worse in a comparison, we shouldn’t use the result as the only thing to judge ourselves. If we do so, we will only end up with twisted conclusions.
Just like in curling, when we compete with elders at the curling club, they have years more experience than we have and we have never won one single game playing them. That result makes sense because experience plays such an important role in things we do. The gap between the skills we have and the ones they have are obvious, thus losing didn’t discourage us.
In our real lives, there are other things that can differentiate us from others without us even realizing it, and they are not necessarily created by our lack of abilities. Just because we can’t see the differences doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Therefore, please stop comparing yourself to others. Moreover, even if the comparison is a fair one, being better or worse than others at one moment doesn't mean it will be the situation forever. There is no point in adding these burdens to ourselves as they won’t do any good.
To me, after several years, I have improved a lot compared to my Grade 8 self. Playing broomball in winter, I discovered that my skills have greatly improved compared to when I used to constantly fall on the ice in Grade 8. That tells me that I wasn’t necessarily lacking in capabilities but merely the refinement of skills. Reflecting on myself helped me to gain more confidence and learn more about myself. Therefore, comparing ourselves right now to our past self is the most helpful incentive for improvement. The best and only comparison to reflect upon should be ourselves.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Lao Tzu: “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”