While addressing parents in a church some time back, the story of my mother left them in stitches. I personally had not seen anything very amusing in the story. When I was young, my mother would discipline me whenever I was on the wrong. What stood out for her, and apparently which was and still is common with most parents, was her insistence in comparing me to the neighbor’s children. “Roy, why can’t you be as disciplined as Vincent, our neighbor’s child?” she would often ask me. I never quite knew what mum’s point of reference was when comparing the two of us. I began viewing Vincent as a super child and myself as a lesser one.
However, this was to suddenly change when the unexpected happened. One morning while going to visit Vincent I decided to tiptoe past their window with the intention of scaring him with some hoarse voice like that of a lion I had never seen. That was not to be. During my tiptoeing, I overheard his mother scolding him and saying, “Why can’t you be as disciplined as your friend Roy?” …….. So he was not as perfect as my mother had painted him. In fact, according to his mother, I was the yardstick of discipline! I rushed back to my mother and narrated the ‘good news’ and with a broad smile, of course to her embarrassment. She stopped the comparison henceforth. Today we laugh whenever I remind her of this.
Later on, I would come to terms with the fact that comparison is a companion of many. I am in high school and I am already comparing myself to some bright boy in our class. I struggle to emulate his way of studying the whole night prior to the exams only to find myself dozing off in class the following day with a deterioration in my already not-so-good studies, of course to my disappointment. I want to also have a girlfriend like my desk mate does not forgetting to attempt to sag my trouser just to look as ‘classy’ and ‘swaggy’ as he does. Later, I realize that I cannot keep up with his pace; he comes from a well to do family and I have no background to match. My old trouser is so tightly fitting me that it cannot respond to my sagging desire. I have been wearing it for two years now yet I have been growing.
Fast forward, I find myself in college and certain courses are more appealing to me than others. I compare myself to the engineers, lawyers, doctors and other scientists to be and I am beginning to feel inferior. I apply to switch faculties just to fit in the academic high-end world. Before long I realize my head was never fashioned for the lengthy mathematical formulas. I fail twice and I pay the dearest price of switching back to my former faculty! Time and money wasted; but I still refuse to learn my lessons.
Fast forward to my first job. I am already comparing myself to my supervisor who lives in a ‘modern’ two bed-roomed house. There are many peers to compare myself with and without wasting precious time, I have rented myself a similar house in the same locality. Now I belong. I have to hang out with my friends every so often and keep comparing myself to them. Before long, I am already straining financially. That is when it dawns on me that my supervisor has been working for fifteen years and his salary is several multiples of mine. I still do not learn!
Fast forward again and I am aging. My friends are married and so, I too, hastily, get married. I now have a child and another one and have even hired a domestic manager. I look at my peers and realize that all of them are living in bigger houses because they now have families. I look at my situation and realize that I too have a family and my house has suddenly grown tiny. Without much ado, I move to a bigger and better house. I am smiling all the way to the neighborhood when I realize that there are no public service vehicles in this neighborhood. My children are already piling pressure on me. They too have started their wing of comparison and have realized that it is only their father who does not own a car. I succumb to the pressure and in the following month, I am cruising in my automobile like I own the estate. Later on I learn that most of my friends are actually owners of the houses they live in. Once again, the bar has been raised and my pay slip is squeezed to the neck. I am frustrated! Comparison has not paid up after all.
What am I saying? That comparison is a deadly dream killer. God, our maker took his precious time to create you in a uniquely great way for you to achieve unique greatness. As such, there are no two identical people under the sun. There are therefore no two identical people-driven scenarios that will be identical. Comparing yourself to anyone frustrates God’s intentions on you. No wonder a life that is driven by comparison ends up in one frustration after the other. Learn to stick to your lane and run your own race. Life is never about how you begin the race, but how you complete the race. No one ever remembers the number of people who began the race, but those who successfully completed their own races. Life is never a competition because no one can make level the playground from what God designed. Do not compare your child with another; do not compare your spouse with another.
In life, you do not struggle to catch up with others; if anything, you have no idea what their life journey has been about. Master your own self, believe in yourself and live your own life to the fullest. Do not struggle to outshine anyone; soon you will realize that you were never headed in the same direction. Move at your own pace and only strive to improve on yourself independent of comparison. As Ernest Hemingway correctly asserted, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Shun comparison by all your might because YOU CAN DO BETTER!
Motivational Speaker and Author.
Thanks alot Roy.your ablessing and an inspiration to this generation.May God richly bless you and shower you with more wisdom
Amen! Victor, I’m humbled. Thank you too for being an ardent follower. God bless you