How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: 5 Pointers


I liked hearing people's insights yesterday about dating+money. I heard from someone via Twitter who told me she feels REALLY uncomfortable dating guys who make a lot more than she does--"probably related to bad self-esteem," she wrote. And it occurred to me I always feel similarly uneasy around men in fancy suits throwing money ... I feel worried they will judge me for not having diamond earrings, a Prada bag, and perfect teeth.


Self-esteem is a big topic for me, as you guys know. I'm thinking about it today in particular after noticing the news about John Edwards admitting (admitting?) that he's the father of Reille Hunter's baby. My first thought was: I wonder if the child is going to be affected by the scandal--if she will grow up knowing her father tried to deny her. THAT's the kind of thing that really has to mess with your self-esteem.

My own dysfunctional self-esteem (and my own dysfunctional youthful

relationship with my father) is, I'm sure, has a lot to do with this whole

never-ending depression thing!


I'm wondering if there's just been more stuff to depress me lately, which is why my anti-depressant feels less effective than usual. Like, I naturally get more down during the winter. Also, my agent sent my novel out in December, so I've had a constant low-level anxiety going on as I wait to hear back about it; simultaneously, I've started to lose hope about it. ... Plus, I was having lots of male attention for a while there (so it seemed) and that has died off lately--in part because I've barely been going out. (But still.)


Another thing: My BFF Daisy Milliner just got an amazing new gig--she started Tuesday, after a year of being a freelancer, like me. I'm so proud and happy for her; I've always known she's going to do great things, and now I know she'll just get to them a little sooner.

At the same time, the fact that she's moved on to a really prestigious job is making me feel like a bit of a screw-up. We're on quite different writerly paths, to be sure ... but when do I stop messing around, trying (and failing) to be a novelist, and get on to the next phase of my life?

Um ... maybe when I finally start sleeping like a normal human being, and can rely on my body to get through the day.


I'm eager for my doctor to return from vacation so she can dope me up!

* * *

I think the real way to stop comparing myself to my friends--and to acquaintances, people I read about, people I see at the gym, people who are completely fictional and people who have yet to be born, etc, etc--is to improve my self-esteem and work on doing things to make myself happier. (And I'm making an ongoing effort to do that, as you know; I'll have more to say about it all in the next week or two.)

But I also have some ideas about ways we all can stop comparing ourselves to other people who are more successful, more attractive, more wealthier, more seemingly awesomer, more grammatically correct.

1. Remember that you don't have the same DNA that someone else has. Some people are just naturally born with fantastic looks, enormous brains, incredibly physical acumen. Some people are natural Marilyn Monroes, like my friend Duval. Some people are naturally Steve Jobs or Conan O'Brien--they naturally operate on a higher intellectual level. And then there are ... the rest of us. Who are sexy, attractive and interesting in our own ways.

2. Remember that you may not have had the kinds of advantages others have had. Even if you've had *some* advantages, that doesn't mean you've had *all* the advantages that your friends, peers and colleagues have had.

For example, a while back, a friend of mine was beating himself up for not being more successful. "I've had every advantage in the world!" he was saying. But I pointed out to him that, okay, sure, he has a degree from an incredibly elite college--the kind that cannot be beat. At the same time, his parents don't have fancy educations themselves; they got divorced when he was very young so there was a lot of childhood turmoil; and they were relatively poor. Plus, his father is basically morally reprehensible, if you ask me. What's more, my friend struggles with emotional problems--and I suspect *his* DNA comes with a lot more biochemical imbalances than the average person's.

So ... you know?

3. Remember that you haven't had the same lucky breaks or random opportunities as other people. Sometimes all it takes is the right first job--or right second job--to catapalt a person into a completely different stratosphere.

4. Remember that other people may not have had the same unlucky breaks as you've had. You may have had some enormous setbacks--related to illness or injury, for instance, or perhaps to the death of someone close to you--that other people have not had to endure.

5. Think about what you can do to change yourself--but don't beat yourself for not being a different person.

All right?

I think it can be healthy to make comparisons at times--like, I think it's actually really good that I've gotten a slight kick in the keister as a result of Daisy's progress. And I think if you realize your friends are doing things you're not doing--dating more actively, improving themselves through classes or a new exercise regime or whatever--it might help incite you to take some positive action. What you DON'T want to be doing, however, is looking at everyone around you and saying to yourself, "Man, they're all so awesome--and I'm so sucky."

Because I just have a feeling that isn't true.


PS: I've said it before but today seems like a good day to

say it again: Thank you so much to everyone who writes in to encourage

me to keep blogging--I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.


also really grateful to the peeps who wrote in to tell me about the

anti-depressants ... but I'd like it even better if you just sent me

half a ton of psychopharms directly to me, c/o MARIE CLAIRE. We

wouldn't have to tell anyone about this!

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