I’ve noticed a common theme on social media that carries over into real life — the devaluation of one’s own accomplishments. It sounds strange, doesn’t it? Let me give you a few fictitious examples based on real comments I’ve seen or heard.
“I just finished reading this awesome book in a week, which is kind of sad when I know most of you read a book or more in a day, but I’m happy it didn’t take me two weeks to finish it like it usually does.”
“It sounds kind of pathetic, but I can pay half my rent with this check and still buy groceries for the week.”
“I know there are a lot of people who are better than me, but I did a good thing today, so that counts for something. Right?”
Do you see the trend here? Even in the midst of celebrating a personal accomplishment, people are still putting themselves down. Someone pointed out to me last week that I do it too in certain contexts. I didn’t even realize it until they said something, but now I’m wondering how quickly I can break the habit.
You see, this devaluing our accomplishments (and by extension ourselves) comes from comparing ourselves to others. Many people have said that comparison is one of the fastest ways to kill joy. So why do we do it to ourselves?
You may be thinking that comparison is a good thing because it makes us strive to do better. That’s a good theory, but the reality is that comparing yourself to others leads to discouragement. It can also keep you from reaching your full potential because fear of not measuring up discourages you from trying.
Here’s the thing about comparing what you accomplish to what others do: you are not that other person and they are not you. We all have strengths and weaknesses, challenges and opportunities, that are unique to us and our lives. No two people are the same, which means when you’re comparing yourself to another person, it’s kind of like comparing pumice to granite. Both are igneous rocks, but one can float and the other sinks.
If you look past the geologic nerdiness of that analogy, I think you can see what I’m trying to say. We all have things we’re good at and things we’re bad at. Take the example of the reader statement above. They may read slowly, but they might be an excellent baker. Another reader might speed through two novels a day, but they might not be able to bake to save their life. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other. They’re just different people with different strengths.
Life is a journey, and we’re all on different paths. Sometimes those paths may run parallel to each other, or even share the same route. But ultimately we each have to travel our own path. Comparing our journey to that of another doesn’t do anything other than lead to discouragement, which steals the joy you might otherwise find along the way.
Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Celebrate your accomplishments without the disclaimers. Be proud of doing the thing, having a small success, or just making it through another day. Your small achievements are just as valid and worthy of celebration as the big accomplishment of that other person over there.
The world has enough joy to go around. Let yourself feel it. You are worth it.
About the Author
Award-winning author E.A. West is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.
Meghan Carpenter loves God, her yarn business, and her twin brother Ryan — a former marine who currently lives with her. When she agrees to let his wounded buddy live with them on her small Indiana alpaca farm, she expects an American marine. What she gets is a former Afghan interpreter who’s painfully shy around women.
Scarred from the war, both physically and emotionally, Basir Hamidi is grateful for a place to live. But his attraction to Meghan is a problem. With his honor destroyed by events in his homeland, and nothing to offer her but his broken, scarred self, he vows to avoid her and protect her reputation. Yet he is drawn to her with a strength that can only be God’s leading. For a man who has lost everything, letting go of the past is a difficult process. When he must also redeem his honor, his only chance of success is to rely on God.
Redeeming Honor is available from Amazon. Read it for free with Kindle Unlimited!