"Don’t Compare Yourself to Others" by Stephen Y.
Dear Georgetown Freshmen,
As I start my senior year at Georgetown, self-reflection has become more of a daily habit. One thing that has been my focus is, unsurprisingly, happiness. Why are some people very happy and others not so much? While I’ve yet to find a satisfying answer to this question, I’ve realized three rules to guarantee unhappiness:
Comparing yourself to others
Trying to please people you don’t like or care about
Worrying about things outside of control
Because of space constraints, I will focus on the first rule. What lies at the intersection of this paradox is an uncomfortable, paradoxical fear: the fear of inadequacy and the fear of being too powerful. Tackling this head on, I wish that I would’ve realized sooner the importance of not comparing yourself to others. Comparison, as Mark Twain quipped, is indeed the death of joy.
On the Hilltop, people tend to unknowingly pressure others to take actions. Whether it’s applying to the Corp or going through the circus that is finance recruiting, individuals start to move in packs, mostly because they don’t want to feel left out of what everyone else is doing. Over the years, I’ve realized that if you want to achieve greatness in your life, then you should observe the masses and do the opposite. In an over-simplified way, this is the essence of greatness.
To this day, I’m not sure why I decided to join an inordinate number of clubs during freshman and sophomore year. At the core of the matter, I cared little about the purpose of most of these clubs. But join in abundance did I! Otherwise, how could I keep up with the extracurricular activities of my peers, who were so “busy” with their own commitments and who (myself included) rarely make time for genuine, authentic conversations that are much more valuable than an extra line on the resume.
Even as I venture into my last year on the Hilltop, I’m still learning about the wisdom of the good life just like everyone else. To that end, I look to the lives of those who forged their own paths before the one I’m leading. I look to Henry David Thoreau, who stresses stepping to the music which one hears, no matter how far away. I look to Marcus Aurelius, who observed how much time the individual gains who does not look to see what their neighbor does or thinks, but only at what they do themselves. And perhaps most importantly, I look to my favorite childhood author, Dr. Seuss, who reminds me and others to be uncompromisingly true to ourselves, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
In conclusion, don’t compare yourself to others, because you then tend to compare your best with others’ worst. If you should make any comparison, then compare your current self with your potential self, because one of the greatest challenges is to bridge this gap. It this kind of mindset that I believe can truly develop thick skin and, more importantly, a soft heart.
Stephen Yin (SFS '17)