32 before 32 – Lesson 27: Comparison is a Killer

Today’s lesson is on the importance of here is nothing that will drive down confidence and determination quite like living in comparison to others. While it is a natural human trait to observe what is in our environment and then try to make it fit what you know about your own, this is trait can allow feelings of insecurity and doubt to seep into our minds. I will use an example from where I usually draw all of my examples: growing up.

I started playing football when I was in 6th grade. Since I was portly (putting it mildly), I played defensive line. As backup defensive linemen at 11 years old, my job when I got in was to just give it my best shot. I wasn’t very good or tough when I started off so my playing time was limited. However, as I got more practice and better over time, I started to get better in my skills. By the end of the season I had worked myself into a starting role and I had made a small name for myself. The next season, I was in 7th grade and my brother Kerry was in 5th grade and he played for the first time. My younger brother Kory played for the first time the next season when he was in 2nd grade. Finally, my youngest brother Keenan played for the first time when he was in 1st grade, while I was off in high school. The only time on the football field where my brothers were compared to me was while we were in grade school. All three of my younger brothers immediately drew comparisons to me from their coaches, even if I didn’t play for said coach. I think that secretly drove them mad because by the time each of them got to high school, they were running backs while I was still playing offensive and defensive line. While I was playing a less glorious position, I was good at what I did. I was the only lineman in my family so nobody could compare apples to apples with me. The same could not be said for my younger brothers. They were constantly getting compared to each other and it drove them spare. I think the biggest blessing that came from this was that somehow Kerry, Kory and Keenan each had something that separated their play from the other two: Kerry was named Kenosha County player of the year (the first for our school), Kory was the only from our family to be named unanimous first team all conference, and Keenan was leading rusher on the best team in school history. Each of us had our own little niche and we were all great in our own rights. However the second that comparing us to each other we would get defensive.

Each of us has talent and gifts. We should each strive to recognize and strive to celebrate the gifts and talents not only within myself but also those around me. Something that I have had to learn over time is that the presence of talent in someone else is not the absence of talent within myself. And it is hard to remember that. I see someone who is effortless in their execution of a task or is really great at something. Comparing myself to someone creates uncertainty in who I am becoming, which of course is not healthy. I am just as worthy of a person as anyone else who is talented. I hope you remember that unless in direct competition, you do yourself no good living as a comparison. Be your authentic, gifted self. That is and always will be enough.

Take care and be well!


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