Remember the last time you compared yourself to someone else? We kind of do it all the time. He is thinner. She is smarter. He is richer. She is stronger. And all this must mean they are happier. Right? Our teens begin to shape their image of themselves based on their perception of others.
Whether on social media or in classrooms, teens (don’t we all?) have a constant dialogue running in their head as they figure out who they are and what’s important to them. And they’re not alone. We adults do it too. In her (terrific!) book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown quotes her wise friend Laura Williams when she shares that “comparison is the thief of happiness.” We at Valo couldn’t agree more.
The good news? Much of what we see in others is their edited selves—or our version of them we created, like a story in our minds. It’s likely they have just as many imperfections as we do. That’s a good thing. What we share with them (which exists just below the surface) is normalcy. Normal fears. Normal sadness. Normal insecurities.
So how do we move from comparison to contentment? How do we pause our judgemental inner narrative? One of Valo’s teens shares his wisdom: “It’s not necessarily about the way that you interpret someone else. If you have enough confidence to be confident in your looks, your intelligence, or other parts of you, I think that brings it to the next level where you don’t have to be the prettiest in the room. The most handsome in the room. You just have to be confident in your ability to be you.”
It sounds like our work ahead is pretty simple. Quiet the comparison conversation in our heads. Dive into the things that make us feel good. While we’re at it, let’s not be shy about letting our perfectly imperfect selves shine.