Week 22: “Well, we’re both fruit”
Spending too much time comparing can be disruptive
How often do you get caught up, sidetracked, by the “success” of those around you, by the “cool” things others are doing?
There were times this week where I found myself doing so. Whilst neck-deep in readings and assignments, I looked around and saw those in my circle getting promoted, embarking on interesting projects, giving talks at seminars… and I thought to myself — Why isn’t that you? Are you not trying hard enough?
We’ve all heard it — the saying that everyone is on different paths in life, that we will all achieve different things at different points in time. But, sometimes, we just can’t help but compare, no?
Writing this post brought me back to the time when I was passed up for progression, twice in a row, both times for different reasons. Did I think the reasons made sense? Were the reasons in my control? Not completely. But it didn’t stop myself from wondering — What was wrong with me, what qualities did others have, or what were other people doing, that I didn’t, that I wasn’t?
Back then, I struggled with my thoughts until one day it struck me (less of a Eureka moment, and more of a slow realisation upon reflection on others’ stories) that as long as I was being unapologetically myself and continued to pursue the things that brought me joy, I’m in a pretty alright position.
(I even wrote a song dedicated to the person who helped me find light in the darkness, and the first 2 lines of the chorus went like this: “你说做自己，不争不抢。做喜欢的事 绝不退让。” which loosely translates to: “You said be yourself, be self-contented. Find what’s truly worth fighting for.” I still find solace in it to this day.)
I’m not suggesting we start burying our heads in the ground and ignoring everything that’s going on around us. Because sometimes it feels great to celebrate a friend’s achievement, and it can be inspiring to see someone else achieve their goals and dreams. And, of course, in fast-changing world, we do need to keep up with the times.
But spending too much time comparing can be disruptive.
- It distracts us from the views on our own path
- It takes away precious time, time that could have been used to advance ourselves, to pursue hobbies, goals
- And the worst part is that it makes us think less of ourselves
“Comparison is the thief of joy” — Theodore Roosevelt
So this week, my reflection point is this:
Whilst it is important to look around, to celebrate, and to be inspired by what others around us are doing, we need to remind ourselves to look down at our feet, at the views around us, and continue taking step after solid step on this path, on this journey we call our own.