Lately I’ve been an avid player of the comparison game. Perhaps this is part of being 35 and realizing that I’m closer to the big 4-0 than the less-daunting 3-0. Maybe it comes with being easily able to monitor what my peers are doing -- and how well they're doing it -- thanks to Facebook and Twitter.
by Jane D.
When I was in my 20s, I was far ahead of my peers in terms of relationships and career success. So I didn't start playing the comparison game until a year or so after my 30th birthday when I discovered that my compatriots were catching up -- they were getting promoted, engaged, and eventually married. I am not ashamed to admit that I feel lonely and left behind.
You can probably see where this is going, so before you click away from this blog or leave an upset comment, let me be upfront: I know I am becoming a repeat offender of abusing the woe-is-me whine since I am not achieving my definition of success -- having a stable job, a mortgage, and a soul mate -- and I think I've found out why.
At times I blame the comparison game on Facebook and Twitter. With the click of a mouse, I am steaming and stewing over a newsfeed filled with short, happy announcements of marriages, babies, and promotions amongst my constellation of “friends,” the majority of them actually being acquaintances. This game sucks because it is simultaneously addictive and toxic. I can and do waste both time and self-esteem obsessing over it. All it takes is one update, and my thoughts are off: Oooh, Ashley* from junior high school just got married. Ugh, Sarah*, my cousin, has a boyfriend! What does he do? How much does he make? Are they going to get married? If they do, it’s so unfair because I try so hard, I am a kind-hearted person, and I deserve to have someone, too!
The sister and I had a heart-to-heart chat about it -- my itch to continue playing the game -- and she said, “Jane, stop blaming Facebook. You choose what and how much information to place out there, you choose what you want to look at.” True, I am the master of my mouse, the captain of my own social networking circles. But I lack self-discipline. And I'm off again!
Am I being too critical? Too cynical? Does everyone -- those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) or not -- play the comparison game? Is there a way to come out of it without feeling like I'm on the losing side of the game?
*Name has been changed.