This blog post is part of a regular series where I answer TableTopics questions. What's in it for you? Reading this answer may spark a new idea, opinion or emotion. If this happens I would love to hear about it in the comments!!!
There isn't one person who I compare myself to, but I often compare myself to those in my peer group. I imagine how how their life experiences, and bank accounts differ from mine. I see how much more professional experience they have than me, and I see how happy they appear to be.
If I don't know the person very well, and they seem to be doing much better at life than myself, then my default response is to feel inferior. It is as if my perception of their success means that I've failed in some fundamental way. This can also make me feel burdened by the need to make a change in my life, not excited or motivated to.
I've also noticed that if I know the person, or if I have the opportunity to get to know them, then the opposite happens. Their success can be a catalyst for me to pursue something I care about. When I was living in Bali, I met so many people in my age group who were doing absolutely incredible things with their lives. But instead of feeling like I didn't measure up, I felt inspired.
This was because in many cases I was able to get to know them at a deeper level. We did acro-yoga and handstands together, we took scooter trips to the beach, and we also worked on projects together.
One of the people who I met in Bali that I was really wowed by is Mark Schönhage. When I met him he was remotely running a healthy snack subscription service in the Netherlands called Box Bites. He was (and is) also extremely fit, and incredible at handstands. At first I felt like my accomplishments didn't compare at all to his.
However, over the months that followed we became very good friends. We eventually rented a place and adopted a cat together. We also started Frontlegs, an online video course that teaches people how to handstand. By the time I left Bali, our friendship was a full on bromance.
From a distance, people who I perceive to be much more successful than me become idolized, and untouchable. By doing this I distance myself from them, and make myself feel small. I automatically see my shortcomings in light of their success.
However, once I get to know them it is clear that they are just people who have similar struggles as myself. They just want to be loved and appreciated like everyone else.
Making myself feel inferior by comparing myself to someone neither empowers me, nor makes room for connection.
The healthiest thing for me to do is acknowledge someone else's success, find what it is about their success that I most respect, and then be grateful to myself for seeing those qualities in the other person.
The alternative is self loathing, and crying myself to sleep. And that doesn't help anyone, especially in a world with as many opportunities as this.
For the full list of questions + answers go to this post: 365 TableTopics Questions + Answers