four seniors at the 2015 senior trustee dinner

The Danger of Comparing

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

One of the most important lessons you can learn while you’re still in college is to stop comparing yourself to your peers. From a professional standpoint, paying attention to what someone has that you don’t – connections, their dream internship, awards – isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, you’ll be wasting valuable time you could be using to go after some of the things that you want.

  1. It’s not luck. Your peers, the successful ones that you envy, didn’t get where they are by being lucky. Great things don’t just happen, not even to movie stars. They auditioned for that role. They networked day and night to become known. The point is, if you work hard, you will get rewarded too.
  2. Here’s another hard truth: some people are going to be better at certain things than you are, just as you are better at some things than others. Comparing yourself to the perception you have of other people isn’t fair to you. The people you envy are the people you hold up above you, the people you think the best of and see in their absolute best light (better than they see themselves most likely). Imagine if you looked at yourself that way. Imagine if you believed in your talents half as much as you believe in everyone else’s. You could make great things happen.
  3. Another hard truth: people are only more successful than you if you believe it. Success is not a tangible thing. It doesn’t have a solid definition. There’s no clear point where you cross from unsuccessful to successful. Everyone has their idea of success. The way to stop comparing your success to someone else’s is to ask yourself, “What does it mean for me to be successful?” And once you have a tangible goal, try and achieve it. Comparing yourself to others doesn’t even have to be a factor if you don’t want it to be.

The danger of comparing yourself to others is that it hurts your own self-esteem. Believing in yourself is honestly one of the most important things you can take away from your time in college. When you have confidence in your own abilities and the path you’re on, it no longer matters who won what award or who got what internship that you wanted. There’s no clear path or easy road to the career of your dreams, but you have the power to make it a lot easier on yourself by believing that you can get where you want to go.

Sources: The Muse