how to win the comparison game

photo by David Ramirez

Lately, I’ve been starting to realize that life isn’t about getting what you want. It’s about figuring out what you want.

I’ve always been terrible about comparing myself to others and beating myself up when I’m the obvious loser. You know the drill: “This girl has the perfect boyfriend, that guy is a high fashion super model, that couple is globetrotting their way across their twenties taking the perfect Instagram selfies.” It’s always frustrating when I realize that, no, I don’t look like Margot Robbie or perform like Emma Stone.

r-rated sexy
correcting other people’s perceptions of me like

The consequence of that tendency, in my case, was that I became an insufferable try-hard: always imitating the cool kids and doing my damnedest to fit in, despite always feeling like a fraud and frequently being recognized as one by the people I was trying to impress. However, after what can only be considered the roughest year of my life so far, I’ve been trying this handy trick for the last few months that has already made a world of difference for my attitude. Forget comparing myself to everyone else– I’m sure they all have problems of their own that I’m completely oblivious to. I’ve been comparing myself today to myself in high school.

Kickass apartment? Check ☑️

Great car? Yup ☑️

A handful of high quality BFF’s? Check ☑️

The best cat in the world? Check ☑️😻

Record collection? Check ☑️

Been to Europe? ☑️☑️ (and I’m adding another check to this soon!)

ALL of the SHOES 👠👠👠👠👠? Yas ☑️

Hitting the club whenever I like wearing whatever I like? Ohhhhh yeah ☑️

Know all the best speakeasies? Hell yeah ☑️

Jumped out of an airplane? ☑️☑️☑️ +1/2

College degree and a career I actually like? Yep ☑️

Emotionally stable? …..lately, yes ☑️

Good relationship with my family? Affirmative ☑️

Stable Nick-and-Nora relationship with an awesome guy? Negative, Ghost Rider ❌ but I’m okay with that.

v i c t o r y

All in all, I’ve realized that I’m damn near done achieving goals that I’ve had for years but completely forgot about once I achieved them. I focused a lot on my personal failures last year and it never failed to knock my happiness down a notch or three. So this year, I resolve (among other things) to remember how much I have to be grateful for instead of focusing on how short I am of my dream life.

And speaking of which, here are some directions I would love to see my life go in over the next few years.

1) Live alone for the first time.

2) Start over in NYC for a few years.

3a) Live and work abroad (ideally, Switzerland), or

3b) get a remote job and spend three months in four major European cities exploring the area and learning the local languages.

4) Cofound a tech company (or start a business on my own of some kind).

I wonder what my life will look like in another seven years?


P.S. This was originally published on tumblr in January, 2018.

P.P.S. Since writing the above, I realized that Jordan Peterson covers this exact mindset/approach in chapter four of his best-selling book 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, published in February, 2018. If you’re interested in getting a deeper grasp of the connections between philosophy, psychology, history, and anthropology, I would highly recommend reading the entire book– particularly if you believe, as I do, that the applications of understanding those connections and concepts will help you lead a happier, more meaningful life.

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