Sometimes I feel like such a loser. Okay, not the best affirmation, I know, but it’s the truth. Yesterday, while out running errands, I heard a story on NPR about a woman named Zora who, from the time she was five-years-old, had a recurring dream of becoming a superhero. This dream inspired Zora to make a list of all the skills she’d need to master in order to achieve this goal – martial arts, evasive driving, knife-throwing, bomb diffusion – so she could then go about developing each one.
Within minutes of hearing her list of accomplishments including graduating from high school at fifteen, finishing a Bachelors degree at eighteen, a Masters at twenty, and completing the coursework for a PhD in geopolitics by twenty-one, I began to feel like an underachiever. Now, I certainly have lived an incredible life and if I were to die tomorrow, I’d leave feeling at peace with what I’ve accomplished. But, I fall prey to bad habits just like everyone else. All I could think about was that I hadn’t learned how to fly a helicopter or defuse a bomb. Not to mention the fact that I don’t have a college degree.
For years I’ve compared myself to others. I’ve held up my accomplishments next to the accomplishments of my peers. I’ve measured my attractiveness against the outfit of another woman. And I’ve judged the success of a book (or the lack thereof) against the success of books written by colleagues or friends. When playing this silly game, I rarely measure up. And worse, a militant part of me attempts to use this practice as motivation, pushing me to perform, reach higher, do more, be better, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It never works.
I’ve never been motivated to do more by feeling less than. I’ve never been inspired to reach higher by putting myself in the one-down position. I’ve never, ever done my best after berating myself for not being good enough. Nope, I can’t think of a single positive thing that’s come from comparing myself to others. In this age of social media, when we’re now privy to the intimate details of people’s lives, it’s so easy to play the comparison game. But it’s a game you’ll never win.
At the end of Zora’s story, I realized I have the opportunity to become a different kind of superhero: a woman who practices loving-kindness, who reflects a kind of self-acceptance and compassion that extends out to every person I meet. There, I feel better. After all, just imagine the kind of impact you can have on the world with those skills in your superhero bag of tricks.
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Here’s one man’s path for becoming a superhero in life. It’s a little long, but really worth watching. You can see it here.