I attended the same secondary school as my elder sister. She’s that type that will collect all the academical prizes during the awards and prize-giving day. To say that she’s super brilliant is an understatement. As a result, every teacher knew her, and she was quite popular among the students as well.
But the unintended consequences of her academic success were on me. Every teacher believes I should be as good as her and the expectations of the students were too much for me to bear. Getting into senior secondary school did not help matters. The comparison got really bad; my attitude was on the check, my grades where constantly being monitored, and I was asked more difficult questions than every other student in the class.
When it was time for introduction, and I called my surname, statements like – “oh Ngozi’s sister, right? She was very brilliant. I hope you are too” – was not uncommon. It was a bit difficult for me; to make matters worse, she was a senior prefect, and I wasn’t qualified to be one when it was time. I almost died, lol, but that aside, I had to prove myself every time to people. Subtly, I hated such a comparison.
So, my niece and nephew came visiting during the holiday recently, and I noticed that anytime I wanted to correct her I would say “stop doing this, can’t you see your brother doesn’t!” Because she is way more hyperactive than him. But later in my quiet time, I realized I was doing to my niece the same thing they were doing to me back then.
It suddenly dawned on me that I was not in any way better than those teachers and students that wanted me to be just like my sister. Regardless of the good intention I had, I realized I had started passing the same trait of comparison I suffered during my secondary school days. You might have fallen victim to this comparison syndrome as well – whether as an object of comparison or as somebody that unduly compares two people, especially children.
Like many others, I wouldn’t want my niece to feel the same way I did. Unhealthy comparison causes more harm than good, and here are three reasons:
Comparison stalls a person’s progress: If you spend your time comparing someone, you hinder the person’s ability to reach its highest point. It’s like wanting the fish to jump like a monkey or the monkey to swim like a fish.
No one has a perfect life: Everyone is uniquely created, even when we have our flaws, but that’s what makes us unique individuals. There would always be someone better, someone, more organized, more intelligent, even more, good looking. But that shouldn’t make you inferior; after all, there will also be somebody you are better than.
Comparison turns friends or siblings to rivals: It kills that genuine love both has for each other.
In whatever you do, do your best to resist the temptation of comparing. The urge can be strong sometimes but always find an alternative to correct. Focus on improving the individual because our beauty is in our diversity.
Have you ever being unduly compared? Does it have any negative impact on you? I would love to hear your story. You can share it with us using the comment section. You can also let us know if there are better ways to handle the unhealthy competition.