“The fastest way to kill something special, is to compare it to something else.”
We’re all guilty of it, whether consciously or subconsciously. We compare ourselves to others. I’ve heard it a thousand times “I wish I could do what you do”. I’ve heard people tell this to musicians, to artists, to mountain bikers, to snowboarders, to cooks, the list is endless. Deep in that phrase lies the root of the problem. By the time you are saying “I wish I could that” to someone, they have cultivated a talent through practice to the point where you become envious of their skill. But the quote assumes that their skill is inherent, that the skill was born into the person’s DNA. While it is true that some people have a greater propensity towards certain skill sets, it is equally true that any skill can be learned with attentive practice.
Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been put into a system that creates comparison. As a kid we get defined by one thing, our age. At school we are grouped into classes by age. In youth sports, we are put into age brackets. Everything is centered around age, as if age is the determining factor of where your skillset or intelligence should be. It creates a notion of a race against time and you naturally begin to compare your life to your peers. If someone 20 years your elder is significantly ahead in life, it doesn’t bother you. But if someone your age or younger is ahead, you feel that you are in someway failing.
What makes things worse is that we tend to compare ourselves to other peoples best. This has been exacerbated through the use of social media. People post the best aspects of their lives on social media. They share the diamonds of their existence, instead of the everyday dirt. So we compare our entirety, our dirt, to the best of others. We view people’s diamonds and see them as a completed product, but we view ourselves as a work in progress. We are all works in progress. So take a step back, take pride in your own diamonds, and start focusing on how you can create more.
The only life you can control is your own. Focus your time and energy improving yourself instead of comparing yourself to others. Life isn’t a competition. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind, but understand that you’re in control. You’re in the driver's seat of your own life and you can take it wherever you want to go. Starting today determine the aspects of your life that you would like to improve and start taking the necessary steps towards these goals. Eventually, these efforts will yield your own diamonds. But there is no reason your age should be the determining factor of when you achieve these goals.