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When You Can't Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

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I have two friends who ran a half marathon race recently and after seeing their posts on social media, I couldn’t help but notice how fast they ran the race. Instead of being simply happy for them (don’t get me wrong, I am really proud of them), I immediately thought about how much slower I am and how inadequate I am compared to them. Then it spiraled into how inadequate I am in all aspects of my life and how lazy I am and how I deserve to die because I am less than, imperfect, undeserving of love and affection and warmth and kindness…

It spirals fast for me every single time I see a post like this from a friend. I’ve never felt like I was good enough in my life, from a very young age. Growing up, I was the chubby kid, the fat, slow, ugly kid. I never felt like I was pretty enough or skinny enough or perfect enough to please my dad. I always felt like I was getting in trouble because my parents would argue and scream at each other every single night for nights on end. As a child, I thought it was my fault; if only I could be skinnier, faster, prettier maybe they would stop screaming and fighting.

The comparisons haven’t stopped. They have continued into my adult life. Like the running example from above. Or with my results from my research — this isn’t as pretty as this other blot I got, or why is there a smudge I must be inadequate for my job because I can’t produce publishable data.

Comparisons spread into all aspects of my life, from therapy to research to taking care of my dog. In therapy, for example, I feel like my struggles aren’t real, they aren’t deserving of attention, so I stay mute during group therapy and listen to the more intense, more deserving, more real struggles of those around me.

It is painful to live in a world where your mind constantly compares your achievements to others. It is painful to live in a world where you never feel good enough, where you never feel like you can just simply be you. It is painful because I punish myself for not being enough, for being me, for simply existing.

It is painful, yet I still continue to live because I want to desperately believe I am good enough for somebody out there. I want to believe I am a strong, independent and successful young woman. I want to believe I will one day see my struggle as deserving of treatment and that I am deserving of recovery. So in the meantime, when I am in the midst of my struggle, while I compare myself to everybody better than me out there, how do you get out of bed and simply just be?

I don’t have an answer, do you?

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: January 20, 2017
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