“I did a very bad thing last night,” I say. “I compared myself to other people. And I hurt myself in the process.”
“You know better than that,” he says.
I know he’s right. I’m always saying that comparing someone else’s public best to your private worst is the road to ruin. True, it’s natural for us to make comparisons. Human beings are social animals, after all. Our brains do the comparison thing pretty automatically.
But assigning value to those comparisons — and taking it too much to heart… well, that’s where it’s easy to go off track.
Especially when those comparisons are unfair.
“You don’t know their story,” he reminds me.
And he’s right. I wait for him to also remind me that this is my own advice, advice that I’ve given to him a bunch of times, advice that I give to other people. And advice that I am, glaringly, not taking.
But he doesn’t do that. Instead he says, “It’s okay. I do it, too, sometimes.” And he smiles.
And as he does, it occurs to me that maybe that’s why I feel like such a mess sometimes. He’s had this particular private worst I didn’t even know about. Times where he’s worried and hurt himself with unflattering comparisons that he never told me about. And that I never realized he really struggled with similar problems.
He always seemed to me to be so generally put together. I would have never guessed that underneath it all he, too, struggled with impostor syndrome and doubts.
But as we talk more over things, I realize he has struggled with all of the same things. And he still does. And he probably will continue to struggle with all of this, even though it’s clear to me that he’s talented… and frankly amazes me.
It’s validating to realize it. And another compelling bit of evidence why it’s unfair compare someone else’s public best to your private worst.