“Comparison is the thief of joy,” said that philosophical 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. He might have been standing on the OCU campus, looking out across the quad at the beautiful people that populate our school.
It’s easy to start feeling inferior during the college years. You roll out of bed, throw on a T-shirt and Nikes, and rush into class right on time, sweaty and exhausted. And then you realize: you happen to be sitting next to the most gorgeous girl in the room, red lipstick perfect, not a hair out of place from her perfectly pinned bun. This inferiority is mental as well: tests are handed back in class. The guy next to you frowns about “only making a B+,” while you hide your C- in abject shame.
Even on the best days, it can be difficult to not let your ego deflate when faced with the over-committed succeeders on your college campus. But if I’ve learned one thing in my four years in school, it’s this: do your best, that’s all that you can do. A simple phrase, yes, but remembering it in my toughest moments can add a boost to my mood.
I’ve watched in sadness and shock as a part I particularly wanted went to someone else. In our performance-heavy school, I know that my experience is shared by many. As an underclassman, I would let these casting notices totally ruin my day. As soon as they went up, I would begin to nag myself, questioning my talent, my future, and my purpose at this school. “You didn’t get the part because they are all better than you, obviously,” whispered my subconscious, watching with distaste as I shoveled down a pint of ice cream. “Face it, kid: you’re not good enough. Everyone else is better. That kid over there, belting opera at the top of his lungs? He wants this career more than you do. You suck. Eat your ice cream, and go back home.”
Eat the ice cream, I did. But luckily, I didn’t let the voice send me back home to Wisconsin. Instead, I grew up. I realized that I have no control over 95% of the decisions that are made in this life. If the casting director wants a 5’9″ blond, I will not be getting that part, even if I go in with the best audition of my life. If I studied for weeks, went to bed early, took the test, and got a lowed grade than my best friend, so what? I did everything that I could do. I did my best; and that was all that could be done.
When I begin to compare myself to my friends and peers on campus, I try to take a deep breath and self-evaluate, rather than peer evaluate. Have I done everything I can to succeed in this moment? Am I working as hard as I’m able? Is this thing even that important? Finally, and most importantly (in my opinion), am I simply being a good person today? Usually, I find that I’ve crossed at least several of these checkmarks off the list. Often, I am working hard. More likely than not, the issue in question is not a big deal in the least. And finally, I will hopefully be able to state with confidence that yes, I am being a kind, loving human being today.
After this evaluation, I’m able to put a smile on and continue with the day, comfortable in my own skin. Who needs comparisons when you’re comfortable with you?