If I were to start a movement to help future high school students deal with the mental and emotional strain of being in high school, the movement would be called #EndComparisons2K16, or rather #EndComparsisons2KForever.
As I’m rounding up my final semester of high school, I can’t help but be reflective over the past 3 and a half years of my life. One of the greatest aspects that stuck out to me was my period of unhappiness junior year as the reality of college admissions came to light. As I began taking my college search more seriously and taking a particular interest in the dreaded acceptance rates, I found myself feeling more and more inadequate. I began thinking of all the students around the country and creating fictional students that colleges would accept over me. I spent hours looking at my top schools’ freshman profile and comparing my stats to their admitted students and while this practice can be helpful in knowing what grades and test scores to aim for, I turned it into something detrimental rather than motivational. I felt discouraged and disappointed in myself thinking of all the people who I thought were better than me. This feeling of hopelessness became worse as it became even more personal as I began comparing myself with people I know. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
While I’m not sure exactly what brought me out of the pit of self-pity, I do know what keeps me from falling back in- the following realizations:
1. Comparisons will get me nowhere.
This is probably the realization that gives me the greatest strength. Realizing that comparing myself to others puts me in a Catch 22-esque situation (since it strays away from a true Catch 22, let’s call it a Catch 23) in which my desire to be better leads to comparing myself to those who are better and yet the comparisons do not help quench my desire to be better but rather makes it worse. I ended up in a toxic cycle that only made me feel worse about myself while I could have been improving and getting the results I wanted so badly.
2. I am the only “me” there is.
While comparing myself to this person and that person I kept ignoring the fact that I wasn’t them and I never would be. I could only be me and they could only be themselves so why was I so stuck up on something I couldn’t change? Schools, colleges, businesses, and even society as a whole can not function to its greatest extent if everyone was exactly the same. Instead of wishing you were more like so and so, revel in the fact that even though they have things you can’t offer, you also have things they can’t offer and when put together, insufficiency is out of the question.
3. Everyone has their own issues.
The circumstances that make up a life are endless and vary from person to person. Everyone walks a different path in this journey of life and your ability to keep going no matter what obstacles were in your way should be celebrated regardless. Instead of focusing on how everyone appears to be triumphant at their finish line, remember that you don’t know what they’ve been through to get there, but you do know all you’ve been through to get to where you are so take a moment to celebrate how far you’ve come!
I know it’s hard considering how much of high school seems like a perpetual competition, but you can break this cycle by agreeing to #EndComparisons and establishing an atmosphere that does just that.