by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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FOR THE LAST TIME…. Stop comparing yourself to others. We all have a different script for life, so comparing yourself to others is not doing you any good. You’re not even taking the same test.
Every one of us has a different starting point, a different set of obstacles as well as a different set of strengths and weaknesses, so thinking that you can “copy off of someone else” is ridiculous.
When I was in high school, I looked around at the group of cool kids (from outside of that circle) and felt bad that I was not one of them. I felt inadequate, unsure of myself, and jealous. Looking back, I wasn’t as far outside that group as I thought, it was just my perception. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t part of the cool kid group, but I wasn’t the social outcast that I sometimes saw myself as. My family wasn’t rich, so I didn’t get a car for my 16th birthday like some of the cool kids did. I started working around age 14, and by seventeen I was able to buy a really crappy Chevy Luv pick up. It was a POS, and I burned the engine up due to an oil leak that I couldn’t see. I felt like I was cool for a brief moment because I had a car. I knew some kids that didn’t, so I thought I had moved up the food chain a little. Then someone with a brand new Camaro decided to yell sarcastically out his window “Nice Ride Schenck!”. I was devastated.
For some reason, I let the words of another have a profound affect on me. Now, I understand that from an anthropological perspective, teen years are where you learn to become part of the “tribe” and learn your place in the village. This has been true since we stood upright and began living in tribes for resource procurement and protection. It is the next phase in the development stages of life, and it is an important one at that. But in today’s world, we are far more susceptible to this kind of judgement and social bullying. With social media, people around the world judge you, and you compare yourself to them. It can be awful at times. Luckily my frame of comparison was a much smaller world way back then. I am not sure how I would have handled it in today’s world.
Slowly, somehow I learned that I didn’t need to feel like an outcast. In my freshman year of high school I tried out for the wrestling team, but got injured and had to quit. I started playing racquetball and hanging out with an older crowd of people. They didn’t seem to care that I was young, short, skinny, kind of a loudmouth, or any of my other shortcomings. I could play racquetball at a decent level, and that made me part of their group. It seemed I just needed one thing to fit in. The downside to this “I am a good player therefore I am a good person” led to a whole other bunch of issues for me, but I’ll cover that in another blog.
As I continued to bounce between my high school social circles and my older friends through racquetball, I started to quit caring about what the high school kids thought. They didn’t seem to me to be as cool as the older crowd from the racquetball courts was, so why would I care what they think? Once I figured this out, high school became much easier, at least from a social perspective. I felt like I did fit in somewhere, even if it wasn’t in high school crowd. It made me feel grounded, like I had social value. It took the edge off of the crap that I dealt with in the halls of high school.
After high school I took a year off, then went to community college for a year. That was just a rehash of high school, and I didn’t really like it. I decided that I wanted to attend NAU in Flagstaff, AZ and broke the news to my family. I thought they would be happy for me and for this decision. Instead it seemed to be met with trepidation that I wouldn’t make it through. l had never been away from home and on my own, so it seemed like too much of a leap from the family’s perspective. It was only two hours north from Phoenix, but according to some, I had said I was going to sail around the world. I did it anyway, and managed just fine. I was never in love with school, and I was admittedly just going through the motions while I was there. But I did it, and did it well even to get decent grades. But what I really wanted to do was be a Pro Racquetball Player. Again, I have talked about this extensively in other blogs, so please read one of those for more details on that journey. But I bring this up because I went away from the previous social circles and got the chance to start anew. And I took advantage of it. I was the best racquetball player in town, and so I immediately had social clout like I had never experienced before.
My point is this: if you look back over the past few paragraphs, clearly I was on my own path. No one else was leading the way or following behind me. I was walking that path alone, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IS. How could I possibly compare myself to others when we are not playing the same game with the same set of rules? Inside a racquetball court, the pecking order was established through competitive play, wins and losses, all of which follow the same set of rules. Life is not following that same plan. Once I grasped this concept, I had stopped giving a crap what others think. Here is a great example of what could have been a comparison moment for me that I looked into deep enough that I saw the light:
I got the opportunity to work out with a bunch of pro football players and other very high level athletes during my racquetball career. I was surrounded by multi-million dollar athletes, thinking that they had hit the bigtime and I was somewhat of an imposter by joining them. Then two things happened; one was this story and the other was I would listen to them talk about women, money and other things, and realize they didn’t have things figured out any better than I did. Some would be broke in just a few short years because of their lack of knowledge and/or bad decisions. They were not “better” than me, they played a different sport and had more money. But that is not a fair measurement of being a better person.
Some of the best athletes on the planet are absolute hack human beings
If you want to be a writer, don’t start out by comparing yourself to the best in the business. You are not looking at that correctly; you can and should use them as inspiration, but you can’t copy their work. The world already has a Stephen King, but the world does need others who also write horror and fiction books. Do your own thing, develop YOUR abilities, and see where it leads you. But keep your eyes on your own paper, “cheating” off of others will get you nowhere, and neither will comparing yourself to someone who is walking a different path.
Money is not the key to happiness, so comparing bank accounts is not a good measuring stick. There have been plenty of suicides of rich, famous people who felt completely alone or depressed despite seemingly having all of the things that others are striving for. How do you measure “success”? I am not sure there is a great answer to that. A single mom who raises three kids on her own has done a way better job of contributing to the world than someone who is in NFL and earns tons of money playing a sport for a living. In social standing, these two examples are miles apart, but if you are looking for someone to pick as being a “better person”, I’m leaning towards the single mom. But again, how do you define “better”?
And maybe that is the ultimate takeaway from this mental rant of a blog… HOW DO YOU DEFINE BETTER? If we can’t all agree on a definition, then there is ZERO reason for comparison, as we are comparing apples to oranges in every single case. Now, you can desire to have some of the things others have, such as money, awards and accolades, whatever, but keep in mind that this is just stuff that can all go away in a blink. A lightning strike, a flash flood, one bad social media post and all that someone has built their castle on crumbles to the ground and they lose it all. True strength of character, helping others, leaving the world better than you found it, these are the things that I value far more than fat stacks of cash or a sick whip.
Think about this…and choose your path accordingly.
 
I wish you luck in your endeavor of life…
 
 

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