How come he can sing so much better than I can? Maybe because he practises two hours a day?

Why does she beat me in every maths test? Because she goes home and finishes every single question in the exercise, even the ones that the teacher didn’t set and not only that, continues to do a further two hours study into the subject!

There are often many obvious reasons why some people are just ‘too good’ at something. As humans whom absolutely detest being ‘worse’ than each other we find it extremely difficult to cope with the fact that someone may be better than us at something. The truth is, they’ve spent probably hours daily, each day for a couple of years before getting there. Personally, I hate losing to anybody in anything for any reason, but I’ve gradually came to learn that you just can’t be good at everything. If you haven’t gone through the same training, the same sorts of discipline then you simply aren’t on even field to compare expertise anyway. Don’t stress out! You’re still very good in your own way. :)

Here’s something else: we are all equal, just this equality is characterised by many different elements that are sometimes not as obvious as the others. For example, the ability to play a musical instrument well is so easy to display and promote. Everyone can listen and judge that you’re a good player, but chess is a completely different matter. To understand who is good and who is bad, you yourself first need a good understanding of the game which is why sometimes chess players go much unappreciated in this world. Yes, you may hear that they are very good and have won many competitions, but you can never truly appreciate his/her beauty because you don’t understand game of chess itself.

Back to the topic, I feel that there are no definite circumstances of whom and what we should compare to, but rather it is defined by your own prioritises and goals in life. More often than not we engrave deep in to our self esteem that we are ‘not good enough’ because our friends didn’t like our performance, or we didn’t win the all important rival match against another team. The purpose of competition fuels us with the necessity of training to improve and defeat the opposition. Since this allows us to further improve, we cannot say that this is bad. The most important thing is to realise we should always be aware of our cohort. We should appreciate their strengths and talents, and also understand their dedication in obtaining such a skilful level in their chosen field. In a school environment, we should strive to maintain our time in order to do well (use your own definition on that please) in everything.

The most important thing to understand is that some things you complete and master because you are required to be of a certain skill level in order to achieve a particular purpose, for which you can then complete a desired goal that others may have set for you or things that are of minimal importance. With things like this, you can compare to your cohort and argue that you are doing very well. However, with a strong passion you should never give in to the fact that you are the ‘number 1’ but always strive to go further and further, if your friends are only so strong, you don’t have to be just a little stronger than them, but you can be much stronger than them.

There are also some things that can only be self evaluated and compared. Often it is not necessary to compare to others. A glance at your improvement from the past could be sufficient.

The most important trap not to fall for is to compare to others when you are excelling. Many times I have been told “you got better than 90% of the grade!” or “you already did very well, 95%” or whatever. My response has always been (exact wording to a teacher, might be a little rude I think) “well it doesn’t matter who got what, what matters is I didn’t get 100% and I should of.” This may sound overly arrogant but I can assure you, if you care about something this much, you would go even further than that in your mental capacity than just the simply sentence mentioned above. What is interesting is that the teacher/friend is trying to comfort you, and of course that it may be true, you may indeed have done very well compared to everybody else, but in your eyes you haven’t because you already had such high expectations for your passion (I have a huge problem with this, and I know how it feels like). What I suggest use the rest of the cohort as an excuse to stop sulking, realise that comparatively you have done well and use the frustration of not achieving the desired outcome as charges of energy to help you do even better next time.
Knowing when and how compare to other people is valuable for not only self esteem but also for self improvement. Use the superior cohort as an excuse to climb to the top and once you have arrived, never stop looking at anybody but yourself, compare you and with the you one year ago, have you improved? But all this is relative. It ultimately comes down to your goals and purposes for a particular skill or item.

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