As a kid, you probably had an idea of what you wanted to be when you grew up. Maybe you hadn’t locked into a particular profession, but you at least had a picture in your head of what it looks like to be an adult. Chances are you never imagined how difficult it would feel to try to keep up with the world around you as an adult.
Getting the right job. Having the perfect family. Buying a bigger house. Looking a certain way. Keeping up appearances. Sometimes it feels like there’s no end to the things we have to achieve in order to feel like we’ve arrived in life.
And this pressure to fit in and one-up those around us is nothing new. Before social media, before HOAs, and before outlet malls, King Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes about this desire we have to measure up. Here’s what he said:
Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4).
What’s an area of your life in which you’re exhausted from trying to measure up? Is it your career, how you look, or the number of friends you have? It might even be something positive like wanting to be the best Small Group Leader in your ministry. The problem isn’t a desire to improve at something—the problem is when our desire to be better is motivated by a jealousy of those around us.
When we compare ourselves to others, there’s no way to win. The pressure to keep up with those around us is like a game that never ends. What we have will never be enough, and living this way is, in King Solomon’s words, miserable and meaningless. We can try to live our lives free of comparison by catching ourselves when we feel the need to measure ourselves to those around us.