Geeks Vs Loneliness: you might not know other people’s stories

Comparing yourself to others is all well and good - but it's not realistic...

A very warm welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness, our spot on the site where we try and have a natter about things that may be affecting you, and/or people around you. Not everything we write is going to be of use to everyone, but our aim is that over the many articles in this series, that you find something that is of use to you. We hope so, anyway.

This week, I want to natter about unrealistic comparisons, something that’s bubbled to the top of my head following a few independent conversations with people over the past few weeks. Three people, in very different walks of life, admitted they were struggling. What was interesting was that they cited the fact that they couldn’t meet the standards of those around them. They couldn’t write as well as other people they admired. They couldn’t be as good with their family as someone they knew. That, compared to others, they were doomed to failure.

I think that’s right, too. If we all go around comparing ourselves to others, it’s an unwinnable battle. It’s also an utterly unrealistic one. Because how many of us really have the facts on those around us? How much do we really know the people we tend to compare ourselves with?

It got my head ticking particularly in the case of the writer concerned, who was comparing themselves directly to someone whose work that they loved. But I know that other writer, as it happens. And I know the hell they’re battling through, that you don’t see in their prolific writing output. You don’t see that the only time they’re happy is when they’re at a computer keyboard bashing out words, and you don’t see the desperate struggles they’re having away from a copy of Microsoft Word.

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None of us know absolutely everything about each other. That’s just being a human being. Some people are better at things that we like doing, some people are worse. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we like doing whatever it is. I saw Tim Henman once chastised for not winning Wimbledon. But then, he made it to the top ten tennis players in the world. He could basically beat over seven billion people at a game of tennis at his peak. But somehow, that wasn’t enough.

Thus, I’d like to hit my ‘calling bullshit’ button please.

By all means, let’s strive to be better, let’s strive to improve, and let’s keep pushing ourselves. But also, let’s keep things realistic. Let’s move away, as best we can, from like for like comparisons with people and what they do, when we don’t know their story. Just from the other side, that writer I spoke to, who people were envious of? That writer said that he envied some of them too, for finding a happiness he hadn’t.

It’s a funny old world, that moves quickly to knock us down sometimes. Let’s not give it a helping hand, particularly based on a two dimensional comparison.

You all stay awesome, and thank you, as always, for reading.