Trying Not to Compare

By Shani Petroff

The past several months I’ve seen people (many that I love) hit weight-loss milestones, get engaged, have babies, hit New York Times best-seller lists, go on incredible vacations, get their dream jobs, and so on.

I truly am happy for them.

There’s also that little part of me that is envious. The part that wants to know will I get that, too? How long do I have to wait? Can I even achieve my ambitions if I try really hard? I want to fit in my goal dress, I want to get married and have children, I want my books to do extraordinarily well, I want, I want, I want….

Then I remind myself, comparing myself to others will never make me happy.

Yes, I have dreams and I have goals — but whether someone else achieves them or not doesn’t change my journey. Their path isn’t mine — and measuring myself by their accomplishments isn’t healthy. So instead, I’m trying to focus on what’s in my control.

Life isn’t a race, but if I’m competing with anyone, it’s myself. At the gym, I get on treadmills next to people who can run 5- and 6-minute miles. I can’t keep up. I can’t even come close. If we were in a race, there is no question I’d lose horribly. Initially, when I’d look over and see my neighbors’ times, I’d feel defeated. I was red-faced, sweaty, and out of breath after running a few minutes at 14 mph. But then I snapped out of it. Who cared if I couldn’t keep up? Getting healthy isn’t a competition. I don’t need to beat the guy next to me. He’s working on his own goals, and so am I. I’m not going to magically be able to run a 6-minute mile tomorrow. But if I keep working at it, I can go an extra minute at my speed. Or I can move to 13 mph. The only person I should be competing with is myself. I need to push myself to my own capabilities, not someone else’s.

Happiness and success are contagious. My brother and sister-in-law are doing amazingly well in their weight-loss efforts. They look fantastic and have more energy. Every time I see a picture of them, I smile. It makes me really happy. It also motivates me. It shows me it’s doable, and pushes me to get my butt in gear. Yes, I sometimes feel a tinge of embarrassment when I hit a roadblock or slide backward in my efforts, but then I remember — they’re rooting for me, just like I’m rooting for them. They’re not going to love me any less if I don’t keep up. They’re my team. I applaud their successes, mourn their losses, and root for them along the way. And they do the same for me.

Let it out (the right way). It’s hard not to let the little green-eyed monster slip in every so often. I’m on a bunch of social media platforms — Connect, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. — and there are some amazing posts about accomplishments and fun and exciting things that people have done. It’s human to feel like you’re not measuring up, but there are places to express this. Go to the gym and literally work out the frustration, talk with a friend (not the one who posted — because that’s just rude), and then work on yourself. If I want to sell more books, I need to write them. If I want to have an active social life, I need to go out more. If I want to lose the weight, I must follow the Weight Watchers plan. I’ve seen people try to squash other people’s achievements, and I find that so upsetting. Somebody’s success doesn’t mean you can’t have it, too. We need to lift each other up so that we can all rise to the top!

Realistic expectations. I’m not saying don’t be a dreamer. Dreaming is great. I have huge aspirations. But I also know that I can’t snap my fingers and magically be a billionaire and have everything my heart desires. I have to go after my goals — and I plan to! As I do, I’m also going to appreciate what I have, celebrate my accomplishments, and the accomplishments of those around me. Life isn’t a race, we’re all in this together!

How do you keep from comparing yourself to others? You can find me on Connect @shani!

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