Every day you do this.
And every day, you lose energy because of it.
But you probably can’t stop it.
You notice how confident she is.
Or how kind he is.
Or how strong he is.
Or how well off she seems.
Or how peaceful his life must be.
I’m talking about comparison.
Comparison can slip into the menial thoughts and observations of our day-in, day-out routines. Take a real, honest self-inventory for a minute though. How often were you jealous (even a small amount) of someone today? Or how often did you feel inadequate to one degree or another because of someone else?
Over the years, it's been really easy for me to dismiss and accept these thought patterns as regular parts of life. But the more I've thought about it, these thoughts do absolutely nothing good for me. In fact, they seem to deteriorate my self-image when left unchecked. And sometimes the only response I have to think of is a tired quip.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
But maybe it could be.
Maybe they just didn’t have the right technology to pull it off back then.
We might be able to do it in a day now.
Or at least less than however long it took them.
Whether or not that’s true, the adage has always been thrown around to remind us all that masterpieces don’t happen without hard work, determination, and time. But it's just too easy to think, "I wish I was that talented" or "If only I could do something that well" or "Yeah, I'll never be that good.
You know this feeling all too well, right?
Think back to gym class. Remember elementary gym class? Yeah, dodgeball was great, but I’m asking you to peer into those dark, repressed memories of the dreaded physical tests. If your school was anything like mine, you had these tests every other month or so where you had to do something like “10 pushups, 10 situps, 30 second wall sit, etc..” And right now, that doesn’t sound like much. But back then, it was HARD! I remember the very first gym test when I didn’t even really know what I was doing. My frail little chicken bone arms could barely sustain my body, let alone push it all the way up from the ground! I remember making it to 3 and then passing out on the floor. It was humiliating!
For a kid who had never worked out before, 10 pushups was hard. But imagine what I felt when I saw Sylvester Stallone taking care of business while training in Rocky. “I can barely do 3 regular pushups. He can ALTERNATE PUSHUPS WITH ONE ARM.” That’s crazy! And simply looking at how great Rocky is and how absolutely unable I was, my present state was obviously not great. And it was easy to think that my future was just as impossible.
And for a 3rd grader, yes, that’s crazy. But don’t we do this to ourselves all the time? I frequently get excited about a dream that I want to make a reality. My wife will vouch for me on this. She hears about them all the time. Her first question after I’m done processing is usually, “Why don’t you try?” And immediately, all the bravery I had in ideating slips away. I run into comparing myself to people who have already blazed a similar trail and have done much better than I could.
Comparison is a crutch that you don’t need, and you can walk better without it.
Stop comparing yourself. If you think God’s given you a dream, chase it until He proves otherwise. If He really has, the worst thing that could get in His way is your choice to do nothing.
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” - 2 Corinthians 10:12