How many of you rolled your eyes when your family compared your achievements with that of a neighbour’s child? I am sure many of us do because in our society comparison is one of the common ways to encourage a person in academic or professional life. It is believed that comparison boosts a person with determination and dedication by giving them a goal in life. But does comparison really encourage us? Doesn’t it rather downplay our lives and hard work? Doesn’t it legitimise the idea that one should succeed not for personal satisfaction but to align shoulders with or defeat others?
Obsessing Over Other Kids’ Success
Success is the defining factor of a person in our society. If a person is successful in life, they are valued and praised. Mind you the definition of success should strictly conform to the conventional ideas of society. But if a person chooses an unconventional path or has failed in life, they are criticised, devalued, and made to feel inferior in society. It is rightly said that success speaks because, in our society, only a successful person’s words are heard or paid attention to. And this is the reason why families get attracted towards kids, who achieve more than their own. They automatically develop respect for the child and their parents, while feeling inferior to them because of the comparatively less achievements of their own kid. Sharma ji ke ladke/ladki ki job lag gyi or tum ghar pr hi ho, Gupta Ji ke bache IIT mein hai, Mishra Ji k bache ne gold medal jeeta or tumne kya kiya and whatnot.
Parents are used to counting others’ achievements while ignoring those of their own kids. But shouldn’t parents appreciate their kids’ achievements no matter how different or less it is compared to other kids? Shouldn’t parents respect their kids’ hard work? It is because of this comparison that kids are never able to appreciate themselves. When they don’t get any recognition for their effort from their parents, when every hard-earned achievement of theirs always falls less than parents’ expectations, Is it possible for kids to feel good about their success? If kids don’t feel satisfied with their hard work, it will eventually affect their health, thoughts, and mood. They will be discouraged from putting in further effort as they might already feel exhausted. And once the limit is reached, without appreciation kids feel invalid and useless. Infact, they go on looking for validation from outside.
But does any person deserve to be treated like this? Should any person be made to feel inferior just because they are different or less than others? Why don’t we recognise the uniqueness that every person has? Why don’t we praise a person for their hard work rather than undermining them through comparison? Everyone is praising and recognising bright people for their success. But why are other people left alone? Success could be relative and subjective, for everyone the scale of measuring it is different, then why comparison be only the standard? Why the person cannot be appreciated based on her personal growth.
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Parents need to understand that not every person is the same. Each person has different abilities, talents, and capacities. It is never a good idea to replicate others’ lives without considering our own limits. I am not saying that one shouldn’t look up to a successful person for advice and inspiration. But this should be done without downplaying the less successful person or pedestaling the most successful person. There is a huge difference between seeking inspiration and competing with others- one is constructive and the other has bad consequences. Constant comparing could be lethal and mentally traumatic. Childhood nurtures adulthood, anything that goes wrong stays with you. The person you become comes from these initial years. So, it is important to appreciate a person in its childhood. Praise others’ success but not compete with them. Praise them wholeheartedly for their hard work without harbouring any jealousy or inferiority in your heart. Let success speak but don’t let it divide and rule.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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