Compare This

Last week I read about a one-woman play that was both written and performed by a girl in her early twenties*. Instead of thinking ‘wow, that’s an impressive amount of talent at such a young age’ I’m ashamed to admit my first default reaction was ‘urgh, some people have all the luck.’ And that’s not an isolated incident. Friends’ promotions, publications, engagements and luxury holidays (to name but a few life events) have often left me cold – not because I’m so hard-hearted I can’t be happy for them, but because I can’t help but compare myself to them, and always end up feeling inadequate.

Comparison is the enemy of success. When you spend all your time comparing yourself to others you get paralysed by the fear of failure. I’ve only just found the courage to openly admit to myself I’ve been doing this for years, and begin to acknowledge that it’s not only unhealthy but also downright silly. If we obsess enough over others’ successes we may well be able to emulate them, but the pursuit of that goal can destroy all the good things in our own lives. Is it really worth that?

When we reach the pearly gates at the end of our lives wouldn’t it be better to stand up and say with pride we took our own path in life, rather than following others’? Each one of us was made unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. Why try to fit a square peg in a round hole? I can only be me. And what I’m finally coming to realise is that being me is just fine. No, not fine. Being me is great 🙂

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*In light of the above I’m going to see this play tonight. It’s time to buck the comparison trend and support a fellow female writer 🙂

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A classy business

A photo article on ‘things posh people like’ is currently doing the rounds on the social media networks. It cites such accoutrements as ‘upturned collars,’ ‘expensive pets’ and ‘blazers,’ and pokes fun at ‘insanely long surnames’ and the tendency of the rich to ‘make lists of other posh people, most of whom you’ve never heard of.’ In short, it’s funny. Or at least it is to people like me, who regard themselves as middle class and consider this self-classification a prerequisite for being permitted to relentlessly mock the upper classes, with whom we obviously share no common ground.

For most people, identifying with a social class provides a meaningful form of identity. The ‘upper classes’ are easier to mock because they’re perceived as ‘having it all’ – something the lower and middle classes doubtless envy (even if they’re quite certain they wouldn’t behave in the same way should they themselves come into a substantial sum of money).

The stereotypical posh kids who are depicted on programmes like Made in Chelsea do little to make being ‘upper class’ look classy, parading around in sports cars and having friends over for champagne tea served by the maid before indulging in a spot of croquet and a polo tournament. They portray a life of undeserved over-privilege, which is both offensive and alienating to Joe Bloggs on the street, who’s struggling to put food on the table at the end of each long day.

But whilst ‘posh’ is easy to mock, isn’t it a kind of inverse snobbery that operates when the ‘lower classes’ club together to mock the way the upper classes look and act? Perhaps, but it’s human nature to seek out those most similar to ourselves and form a bond as a way of reaffirming our place in society. There’s strength in numbers, as the saying goes.

But whether we’re rich or poor, posh or common as muck, we mustn’t forget that we are all human beings – our outward circumstances may be different but inside we’re all the same, with the same insecurities and fears. So what if some of us like wearing tweed and others double denim? The chances are deep down we’ve got more in common than we realise – or perhaps that we’re prepared to accept.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to meet a man about a peafowl….

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