For the past two weeks, I’d bragged non-stop about my culinary abilities without realizing my co-worker, who had stayed humble, was a lot better at cooking than I was.
“Oh I love making pasta. I’m pretty good at it — it’s one of the things I used to make for catering.”
“You should try my recipe for cookies. It’ll blow your mind!”
“I did a 6-course dinner with a trained chef before and everyone raved about how incredible our dishes were.”
I knew I had to apologize.
“Hey, you know all the things I mentioned about my cooking previously? I just wanted to apologize. I should’ve been more humble — you’re a lot more amazing at cooking compared to me.”
He smiled and said, “I get apologizing for being boastful, but why are you comparing yourself with me? You’re you and I’m me. We’re two different people with two different sets of experiences. You should be proud of where you are.”
“But shouldn’t we compare ourselves to people who are better so we can learn from them and become better?” I asked.
“If you’re comparing yourself with someone for inspiration, then of course you should, but if you’re comparing your ability or your progress with someone else’s, you’re always going to lose because there will always be someone out there who’s better at it than you are. If you insist on comparing yourself to people better than you, it’s only fair that you compare yourself with people who can’t cook at all too — in that sense, you’re not so bad are you?”
His words struck deep into me, and it made me realize that in the midst of wanting to improve and become better, I constantly compared myself with people whose skills were beyond mine and had several more years worth of experience and opportunities than I did. It brought me down, making me feel incompetent, incapable, instead of being proud of what I’ve accomplished.
I wrote about self-care recently on how to love yourself — this is not any different. Acknowledging the struggles you’ve been through and recognizing the progression you’ve made deserves a pat on the back. You’ve done so much already and you should be proud of that fact. Telling yourself that you could’ve done better or that you’re not good enough yet is okay when in moderation but don’t get caught up in this pessimistic loop of thinking that you’ll never good enough.
There will always be someone stronger, smarter, faster, prettier, more accomplished, more adept than you are and if you always compare yourself with them, you’re bound to be discouraged no matter how much you’ve accomplished.
Remember, the real challenge is focusing on becoming better than who you were yesterday than who they are today.