If I accumulated all of the fiery, obsessive energy I’ve wasted comparing and contrasting myself with my peers over the past decade (which is about when this toxic habit took root), I could probably power a small rustbelt city for a few days. Trust me, I used a graphing calculator.
We squander so much time festering with envy and resentment over the accomplishments of our peers. (just me?) Has there ever once been a benefit to this petty habit? No. No, there hasn’t.
The thing we have to realize (and internalize) is that, ultimately, we are competing with no one. And even when it really seems like we are, we aren’t. How could we be? How could we all be running the same race when each of us has a different start and finish?
Yes, our tracks criss-cross from time to time. We tend to clump with others whose goals we perceive to be similar. These criss-crossings make you feel like a God or like shit, but, if your not an idiot, they usually make you feel like both. There will always be someone better and someone worse than you at any one thing. Always.
The point is this. Even if someone pwns you on their battlefield, you could surely pwn them elsewhere. The notion that some battlefields are more or less venerated by the public eye shouldn’t matter. No one ever died fulfilled and content by doing what everyone else thought was important. And if you ever stacked up your entire life against someone else’s, you would learn exactly nothing (also it’s impossible). Our stories with all of their triumphs, stalemates, vicissitudes, and premature ejaculations are far too singular for comparison.
The only lesson to draw from peer success is that you must work hard. You must work even harder than before.
For every one of your peers’ successes, you have an achievement and an aspiration that they do not. No one has what you have. You don’t have so many things others do. So why squander time suffering?
Do your work.
I wish someone had pounded this into my brain ten years ago.