Sinead O’connor had a hit song that was released back in 1990 entitled “Nothing Compares To You”. The song was essentially about a breakup that the artist
had, and no matter where she went or whomever else she met, nothing and no one compared to her ex or the experiences that they shared.
She was basically sad throughout the whole song because she kept comparing everyone to her ex, but no one or no experience measured up in comparison. Lets face it; we all have a tendency to make these types of unfair and unhealthy comparisons. But I believe Millennials have come up during a time of constant comparison across every dimension of their lives. And that can be a big problem.
One of the biggest challenges that I’m seeing with this generation is the pressure they are placing on themselves through this culture of constant comparison. Because unlike Sinead O’Connor who was comparing everyone and everything to her ex, Millennials and the Gen Z’s that follow are comparing themselves to everyone and everything as a gauge for his or her success. Comparing yourself to others is nothing new of course; and it’s not exclusive to Millennials. The level on which the comparing is being done with this generation however, is far beyond what it’s ever been for past generations.
Technology… and digital, social, and mobile technology in particular, has fostered values, behaviors, and a culture that is virtually fueled by comparison. Whether it’s Facebook, Instragram, Snapchat, or any other social media platform that allows you to show the rest of the world how awesome your life is, there is around-the-clock access to friends, family, peers, and people you don't even know from all around the world. And every time you’re on one of those sites or apps, the comparison is inevitable, Millennial or not. It just so happens that Millennials are the biggest and most frequent users of these platforms.
I read an article in the Harvard Business Review (hbr.org) the other day that shared a recent study by University of Michigan that suggests that the more a person uses Facebook, the worse they feel. The study discusses the dynamic of ‘social comparisons’ and how social media contributes to that. It also goes on to suggest how easy it can be to believe your life sucks in comparison to all the dope stuff you see other people doing. This can lead to a whole host of issues in areas of confidence, productivity, mental health, and overall happiness. So what do we do?
The short answer is to stop comparing yourself to others. You’re not them and they’re not you. That's obviously easier said than done. Identifying the right leaders, coaches, and mentors in your life is one way that can help with that. If you do not have a coach or mentor in your life, I highly recommend aligning yourself with one.
In the meantime, here are three quick reminders for Millennials and those who are leading Millennials to keep in mind to help avoid the consequences of constant comparison…
- The only person you have to be better than is the person you were yesterday. We all have our own unique gifts, talents, passions and callings in life. Discover your purpose and focus on that. Everything else will fall into place.
- Everybody’s not what they ‘post’ to be (purpose pun intended). Remember that people share the best versions of themselves on social media. They share the version of themselves that they want the world to see while in reality they are lost, afraid, and confused.
- Nothing compares to you. You are uniquely, fearfully, and wonderfully made. There is no other person on the planet that can accomplish what you have been sent here to do. Do not allow your purpose to suffer ‘death by distraction’ because you are too busy watching the moves of someone who is actually fulfilling his or her purpose.