Why it’s not fair to compare yourself to others

I started replying to this post by the Inelegant Horse Rider and found that I had more to say than fitted politely into a comments box, so brought it back here to mull over.

I apologise if I’ve already ranted at you on this theme at some point, either in person or here. I have this vague feeling that I have… but anyway here’s the dialogue.


Everyman: I could be a great [rider/writer/person] if I … achieved A, wasn’t hampered by B and didn’t worry about C.

Logic: Yes. That’s true. So do that.

Everyman: I can’t do that. I’ve tried to do A and it’s really hard and I can’t quite get it, I have commitments to B and deep-seated psychological issues around C.

Logic: Well, assuming your statement is true, then if you can’t change A, B & C, you can’t be a great [rider/etc.]

Everyman: Well that upsets me.

Logic: Illogical, Captain.

Everyman: But I want to be a better [rider etc]

Logic: Then change A B and C.

Everyman: I can’t. I won’t. I don’t have the physical/mental capacity to do A, B is my life and C is my personality.

Logic: So you’re saying those things are more important to you than being a great rider?

Everyman: Maybe. Maybe it’s more important that I live my own life than that I try to ride as well as someone else who has a completely different body, life and mind. Maybe I have to understand that everyone’s different and just because someone else can do a thing doesn’t mean it’s fair to expect myself or anyone else to do it to the same standard. It doesn’t mean I can’t improve in my own ways, and achieve goals that are a great achievement for me. If I changed my life and my personality I might ride better but I wouldn’t be me any more. I have to be me first and foremost. If I can be a better me that’s great, but I still have to be me.



10 thoughts on “Why it’s not fair to compare yourself to others

  1. The Dancing Rider says:

    Yes! I think we all suffer from this. I know I start doing it if another adult’s lesson is going on where I’m riding, and they get tons of praise. I start comparing. But then I stop. I believe, as you say, that we can only improve as we improve. Zen, right? We are who we are – it’s important to remain (awful cliche’ coming I know) “true to ourselves”.

  2. theInelegantHorseRider says:

    This post is great, it is true that we all suffer from this and while I am not sure I will ever stop comparing myself with the others in my class this post reminds me why I shouldn’t. Thanks for this, I think I will really need to keep these words in mind over the coming weeks. Time for a bit of a mind-check for me I think. 🙂

  3. […] critical and harsher on myself than I ever am on others and I doubt I am alone in this. The post by Sparrowgrass has made me realise that I am doing myself no favours by looking around and comparing myself to […]

  4. Forgive me for sounding like Methuselah’s mother, but I have found that whilst I never managed to change A, B and C in the ways that I wanted and that vicious circle has seemed to resonate, one way or another throughout the years, somehow D through to Z came up with all sorts of other possibilities that caused A, B anc C to look slightly different. My only regret is that I spent far too much time thinking it all through and not getting on with it. 😉
    Just got back from a clinic where the trainer (male) made us all (middle-aged females) laugh like drains with, “What would Charlotte do?” Thinking about that I feel a possible post coming on ……! 🙂

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      Yes, there are plenty of things that can and will change as well as the things we can’t change. You’re right that getting on with it is the most important part!

  5. Meg says:

    I like this a lot. It is so hard sometimes to remember who we are when we are surrounded by others doing the same things we do. My college environment causes me to doubt myself a lot, as the other girls are all stronger riders or more knowledgeable and I find myself wondering how to get to that level rather than seeing where I am. Reading something like this reminds me to come back to myself, just as I’m sure writing it has done the same for you. You are fantastic as who you are and in what you do. What other people do bears no weight on your personal capabilities. You will reach the sky only by doing it the way you choose, not by watching others do it. I think it does us good to remember this.
    So thanks for posting this 🙂

  6. subodai213 says:

    You are right. A philosopher once said, “When you ask yourself “”am I happy??””, you cease to be so.”
    There will always be someone who rides better than you. You ride better than someone else. Life is a bell curve, and depending on the pursuit, we can be anywhere on it.
    I hate to say this, because the song drives me absolutely nuts, but…’don’t worry..be happy.’

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