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The Importance of Not Comparing Yourself to Others

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We live in a society that is full of influences, airbrushed photos, and platforms that only share the “good.” We don’t see what goes on behind the scenes, but instead see the smiles, the success, and joy. It can be so easy to compare ourselves, our progress (or failures), and journeys to others. I know I definitely have and it can leave us feeling down, defeated, and like we will never measure up, or be good enough.

As an athlete, I have always been competing against others, from years of basketball to now running marathons and ultra-marathons. When you’re an athlete you want to win and be the best. Winning and success are fun. But, what happens when you don’t win? How do you deal with that? It can be really hard, especially if you’re not used to it. No one likes to lose, or to feel that they aren’t good enough. Through all of my years of competitive sports, I have learned the importance of not comparing myself to others — not just in athletics, but in life.

I lost my hair at age 2, and spent many years comparing myself to my classmates. I never felt beautiful, or that I deserved the things I wanted most in life, because somehow not having hair made me less than. I would always think, “If I just had hair I would have it all in life.” In reality, that was the furthest from the truth. I learned after a lot of heartbreaks and disappointments that it is about hard work, having a positive attitude, being kind, and never giving up on yourself and your goals.

I believe we are all given our own path, our own journey for a reason. We all have unique gifts and talents, though it may take longer to discover what those are and how to use them. When I am out running, I feel the most like me. I feel strong, beautiful, and resilient. I love to set a big goal for myself. I can’t control what others do, but I know I can control how hard I work and what I do. When I run, I run for myself, because it makes me happy and empowered. It can be easy to look at someone else’s race, or workout and see their paces and feel defeated in your own workout, or race. However, if you can resist the urge to compare yourself to someone else, you will be happier and it will be easier to keep showing up in all aspects.

But how do we actually put this into practice and in our everyday life when we are surrounded and consumed by these influences and others?  For me, it is writing down my goals and posting them on my bathroom mirror. I don’t often share these with others, because they are for me and no one can take that away. The amazing thing about goals and dreams is that they can never be too big. I believe there is no limit to what can be accomplished in life. This feeling and truth is so exciting to me and helps me jump out of bed before the sun to get my run in.

I often have to remind myself of the hard truth that not everyone is going to like you, or cheer for you and your success. Even people who were once your friend, or a part of your life. This can be a difficult feeling to navigate through. I know I have struggled with it, and even today still do. But, when you’re standing in your own truth and paving the way, it is just what happens. I use these moments to fuel my fire and to keep me going. Yes, my goals are my own and for my success, but I also find it empowering to have people doubt and not believe in you. I choose to smile and then continue working hard and make it happen anyway.

Always bet on yourself and never compare yourself to anyone else, because we never know the full story, or what goes on behind the scenes. If you stay true to you, and set goals for your own self and not to impress others, you will be more successful and happier.

Originally published: October 19, 2021
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