Habit of comparison distorts self-worth

Written by Katie Zhang. “Hey what did you get on your test last week? It was so hard! Ugh!” This type of dialogue is often heard around Gunn. We at Gunn have a bragging culture around academics, extracurriculars and self-care. Many times, people say that they are fine on the outside, but in reality they are not. For instance, one may appear completely calm on a superficial level, while they are actually frantically trying to keep up with the demands of life.

In my day-to-day schedule, I attempt to ensure that I don’t compare myself with others. However, whenever it comes to a big test grade coming out, it is a struggle not to compare myself to other people. Usually, when a test grade comes out, people immediately go to their classmates and ask each other, “What did you get?” or “How did you do on the test?” For instance, after the first Advanced Placement Biology test grades came out, one of my friends came up to me and asked me how I did. Before I could state that I wanted to keep my grade private, she told me what she got, and she began to complain about her poor performance. After she told me what she got on the test, I felt more embarrassed about my test grade since I realized that I did far worse than her. This encounter caused my self-esteem to drop because I felt that because she got a higher test score, she was better than me.

Not only is there an academic bragging culture, but there is also a bragging culture revolving around the amount of self-care one gets. Occasionally, my classmates or friends will complain about how sleep-deprived they are. Once they finish their discussion about their sleep-deprivation, they ask me how much sleep I got last night. In one situation, I was very reluctant to answer because they had only gotten three hours of sleep, while I had slept for nine. I felt embarrassed to tell them because I felt like I didn’t have enough extracurriculars and classes to deal with.

This problem affected me because I felt like I needed more stuff on my plate, so that I could have more things to talk and rant about with my friends. People try to cram in everything they can every waking hour to make themselves seem more successful, but what comes with this constant cramming is the lack of time people have to take care of themselves. The reckless assumption that less sleep and more extracurriculars equates to success is a false one and should not be advertised out loud.

After all these experiences, I’ve realized that everyone has their own way of doing their activities. The results are all different when the process to reach the end is different. When I compared my test grade with other individuals, I did not realize how different studying habits or number of extracurriculars could affect their performance on the test. I have my own way of studying, and other people may have their way of studying, so the outcome will be different. Thus, I realized that comparing myself to other individuals is pointless because the way that I reached my result is different than the way that someone else reached theirs.