“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” – Iyanla Vanzant
In the wake of Prince’s passing the radio was filled with his music. While I was listening to an online radio station, the host was mentioning how great Prince was as a composer, musician, and a performance artist. As the host continued he felt the need to introduce one additional element into the conversation…
Perhaps it was the combination of the host’s love for Prince and the still-fresh news of his death, but the conversation went from how great Prince was to a conversation about how much greater Prince was as compared to others. Actually, it wasn’t a conversation. It felt more like a sermon…the host speaking with Biblical certainty as he told the world how much greater of a guitarist Prince was compared to Eric Clapton. “Anyone can play the blues…it’s easy!” declared the DJ.
I was rather surprised and disappointed as to where he was going with this. Why can’t we just celebrate the contributions of what each artist has shared with the world without the need to rank one over another? I wondered if this DJ’s view of the world would prevent him from enjoying a Clapton song simply because he believed Prince was better?
Our culture has a thing for ranking just about everything. At the end of every year we are exposed to the top songs and movies of the past 12 months. Local newspapers publish lists of their area’s best restaurants as voted on by it’s readers. I do my own fair share of comparing things, from shopping for which brand of green beans to buy to making far more important decisions in my life. But there’s one area of life where comparison can prove to be quite destructive…
Comparing myself to others.
I’m not schooled on whether comparing ourselves to others is a universal characteristic of humanity. All I do know is it really fucks things up. You can take stock of all the good things you have in your life but those same things may suddenly not be as good when you decide to start comparing where you are in life to others. Someone is always wealthier, taller, thinner, stronger, faster, cooler, more accomplished, more talented, smarter, living in a bigger house, and taking better vacations. And we all know people who are at least one of those.
In any moment, though, we get to decide if we will find joy in who we are and in what we have or if we will beat ourselves down because we, in our own distorted opinion of our own self worth, don’t believe we are good enough.
Comparison is the breeding ground of envy, and when you’re busy wishing you were living someone else’s life you’ll never be happy living the only life you’ll ever have.
It’s a life-altering decision when your focus is on celebrating you as you already are.
After all, as Prince famously wrote, “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
It’s a great day to be you!