Today I went back to school after a week in California. It was a strange transition.
I was coming off of placing in the top ten internationally in a high school marketing competition, an achievement that some might say is bordering on elite. I should have been on top of the world.
But I wasn’t.
There are days when I feel like I can’t do anything right and everyone else can do everything right. Days when I am so lost in who other people are that I miss who I am and what I have done. I see people living lives that seem to be far better than my own. People who are athletically gifted, have better grades, more friends, perfect bodies, and have by all accounts accomplished more than me.
Today was one of those days.
I have been called to the Arizona, Tempe mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and I know with a surety that it is the right place for me to go. I understand that missionaries are called to people, not places and that where you are called matters less than to whom you are called. However, I tend to subconsciously envy my peers when they are called to foreign countries. The Mormon community seems to have more excitement and respect for them because they are going somewhere exotic. It’s irrational and ridiculous, but it happens.
I look around me and see my peers who have had success thrust upon them without the need to lift a finger. They have been athletic from the time they could walk and have made every team they have tried out for. They have perfect grades and a high ACT score and were accepted to whatever college they wanted. They are surrounded by friends and everyone thinks they’re all that and a bag of chips. Plus, they were called to South Africa on their mission.
I contrast that with my athletically challenged body, imperfect grades, good (but not great) ACT score, and a mission call that is less than 700 miles away in an area that is as Utah as you could get without being in Utah.
I want to have more, be more, experience more.
The truth is, I have a pretty great life, and you probably do, too.
I live in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world. I have opportunities to grow and succeed that most people in the world don’t have. I have worked hard to build my network, specialize my learning, and establish good habits, and I have been able to do more than the average 18-year-old American because of it. I am the captain of a great Ultimate Frisbee team, despite my unnatural athletic ability (as in, it’s not natural for me to do athletic things or anything involving fine motor skills). I get good grades and have a full-tuition scholarship to Utah Valley University and half of a housing scholarship through their leadership program.
Behind the outer shell of what I see of other people, they are just like me–vulerable at times, often unsure, and making endless comparisons to other people, afraid that they will never measure up to their mental picture of success.
As Ryan Daniel Moran said, choose your comparisons carefully.
There are people who are better than me at a lot of things, and that’s just the way life works.
Jeffrey R. Holland said, “So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.”
It’s hard to be happy for the success of others, but it’s necessary if you want to be happy with your own accomplishments.
Draw your own conclusions.