I love cliché advice. Whether it’s “good things come to those who wait” or “what happens comes back”, I fully believe in it.
In the face of some difficult situations over the past few weeks, I’ve offered an abundance of this advice to my friends, who all hate cliches. You see, they prefer recommendations more specific to their situation. However, I think that because cliched advice is so ambiguous and seemingly all-encompassing, it’s generally applicable and more often than not it works. So, it seemed fitting that I take this moment now to give you all a shot for some positive inspiration this week.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Comparison is a thief of joy”. Simple but meaningful. By comparing ourselves to others, we often make ourselves feel inadequate among what appears to be the success and fulfillment of others. As humans, we subconsciously make these comparisons every day without realizing it. When you’re walking to class on campus or just talking with your friends, you’re probably thinking about how you compare to others. One of the most obvious ways to do this is through social media. Social media is a medium through which negative comparisons are made, particularly because it shows what other people want you to see about them. Social media has evolved into a platform where everyone posts their life highlights, which creates some pretty high expectations for what your own life should look like. And, with social media being so pervasive in our lives, it’s hard to escape it.
We tend to compare our worst times with other people’s best times, and that’s because we can’t know everything that’s going on in each other’s lives. Everyone is a different person, in a different place in their life, so why should you care so much about what other people are doing? Why should you care if someone else got an internship for the summer when you’re still looking for one? Why should you compare your grades, resume, physical appearance, or personality traits with those around you? I’m not suggesting that we all stop comparing ourselves, but I’m suggesting that we stop comparing ourselves negatively to others. Ready for more cliché advice? Be yourself. We are all unique, and because of that, we are all special and important.
Focusing so much on what other people are doing and what you’re missing makes life very difficult and stressful. It’s fine if you can look around at your friends and celebrate their successes, also using them as motivation for yourself, but it’s dangerous to be discouraged because part of their life is “better” than yours. There is a fine line between inspiration and demoralization.
I know this is easier said than done, but this is all food for thought. Take some time each day and focus on replacing thoughts of self-doubt with positive affirmations and individual goals to work towards, regardless of what others are doing. Take a break from social media and live in the present, because what happens online is often a misrepresentation of reality. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, take the road less traveled and remember that everything happens for a reason. Should I continue?
I know this is all very cliché, but like I said before, sometimes clichés are the best advice because they really do work. So as we start this week stay positive, celebrate your successes, reflect on your mistakes and be kind to others, we all learn to love who we are.
You can contact Hannah at [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.