Stop Idolizing Other People

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When I was in high school, I always wanted to be Kyle. 

Kyle was athletic and played on the football team. Kyle was smart and excelled in school without even trying. Kyle had a beautiful girlfriend. Kyle had a rich family. Kyle was better than me at the video games that we played.

I used to ask the universe often “why couldn’t I be Kyle?” I felt insignificant, lacking, and cursed for having been stuck as merely Matt.

I used to wish in secret that I could trade places with Kyle, that way I could experience his abundant life and he could know what its like to be stuck with my crummy one.

I wanted to be Kyle because he had it all, or at least, so it seemed. 

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the idea of what I had imagined Kyle’s high-school life to be, was a product of my own low teenage self-esteem. I put Kyle’s life on a pedestal and idolized it, when in reality, he didn’t have it all as I had imagined.

Although he was smart, Kyle struggled with applying his knowledge and forging his career path.

Despite having a rich family, Kyle came from a difficult home. He had separated parents and lived in a competitive sibling culture.

Kyle and his girlfriend were in a toxic relationship and were constantly fighting. Soon after high-school, they would breakup due to cheating on one another.

Although yes, he still was in fact more athletic and better at video games than I, there were many areas in which I was thriving where he wasn’t. 

I had a strong social friend group that is still together 10 years later.

I was developing a healthy early-stage relationship with a partner of my own (who I eventually ended up dating for 7+ years).

I had a clear direction of where I was headed after high school and what I wanted to do in my career. 

I was also in a financially sound family, and despite them being separated, I had parents who were incredibly supportive of me and my ambitions.

I do not share this to brag, compete, or to get back at Kyle. Instead, I share this to you to explain a valuable life lesson that I learned while reflecting on this experience:  Nobody has it all, and nobody has life entirely figured out. 

Everyone goes through life differently. Everyone has their own unique journey, their own specific lessons to learn, and their own reason for being. 

Kyle and I were (and still are) going through life differently.

Kyle and I have different journeys that teach each of us our own specific lessons that we need to learn as individuals. 

Similarly, you (the reader) and I have different journeys. You and I are on different stages of our respective journeys and are learning different lessons from them. I likely have had experiences that you haven’t, and you likely have had experience that I haven’t – and that’s okay. 

Different Lessons, for Different People

Do you ever feel that life is unfair? ⁣⁣I definitely feel this way often.⁣⁣
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Some people have certain things better than we do. Some people are wealthier, healthier, have stronger relationships, have more adventurous and free lifestyles, etc. – or at least, it seems.⁣⁣
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What I’ve learned is that this feeling of unfairness in life stems from us not fully understanding how our journey differs from the journeys of other people.⁣⁣
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When we compare ourselves to others, we focus on what we lack compared to them and we project our issues onto them.⁣
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Perhaps we struggle financially and our friend doesn’t. When we see that person, we attach our problem onto them and cast the judgement that they are better off (and that life is therefore unfair) since they do not suffer in the same manner that we do. the way we do.⁣
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This is the analysis our ego performs, and it does so as a protection mechanism – as a means to quickly understand and interpret the complexities of the world around us.⁣⁣
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We believe life to be unfair because we are regularly seeing other people’s success in the areas that we are still working on. We become blind to the areas in which others are struggling with that we may have success in. ⁣⁣

We do not know about their unique journey, their struggles to overcome, and their life lessons to learn. We do not think about how they could be ill, be in a toxic relationship, suffer depression, or struggle with their direction in life. We do not think about how they may be wishing they were us at the same moment we were busy wishing we were them.⁣⁣

Don’t Idolize Other People Holistically.

Nobody has life entirely figured out.

Nobody has learned all of the lessons that life on Earth has to offer; if they did, they would not have incarnated here to live the human experience.  

Sure some people may be better at hiding the things that they struggle with better than others, but that doesn’t mean that they lack struggles of their own.

Even all of those celebrities and influencers that you follow on social media have struggles too. Believe it or not, some of their most difficult struggles may exist within areas of life that you are already a master within.

They are rich and famous, how could they have struggles?

Rich and famous does not mean happy. Rich and famous does not equate to having a loving relationship, a healthy body, the time to explore and learn, parents who love you, friends who trust you, or the freedom to live one’s truth.

Based on their carefully curated social media timelines, it may seem from the outside that the rich and famous – who are “successful – may have life figured out. In actuality, they may have some prominent struggles that are keeping them from being truly happy. They may wish and pray every night for one small thing currently unobtainable to them, which would make them happier. The kicker is, that small thing that would make them happy is likely something you or I already have that we take for granted.

That is why when it comes to people you look up to, my recommendation is to not idolize them holistically.

Appreciate Aspects.

Have you ever met someone who was so good at something, that you became completely enamoured by every aspect of them?

I often feel this way when I discover a new incredible musician that I like. I become so fixated on their mastery of their instrument and control of their voice, that I let that admiration pervade all other areas of their life. I become interested in their life beyond simply their music. I gain interest in their history, their social environments, where they live, who they listen to, and what they believe. The problem with doing this is that the more involved you become, the more likely you are to discover the areas that are not quite as admirable.

I think many people run into this problem. We let our romanticism for one particular aspect of someone’s life – perhaps in my case, their music – shape our entire opinion of them. We put them on a pedestal of belief as if they exist above the human experience in which could do no harm. We create a fantasy of who they are, and this fantasy makes us feel as if every aspect of our own life is insignificant upon comparison.

To avoid falling into this trap. I suggest choosing to focus solely on appreciating the specific aspects of others that resonate with you.

You can still appreciate a musician’s beautiful voice, a friend’s healthy relationship, your parent’s hardworking attitude, and that Youtuber’s fancy car collection, without idolizing everything single other thing about them. 

You can take a specific aspect of their lives in which you aspire towards and use it as a guideline for application within your own life. You can build that aspect for yourself without having to forfeit the rest of your character for theirs in some hypothetical body-swap.

You don’t need to become a carbon copy of that person, nor should you want to.

Idolize Yourself.

Start praising yourself; you are praise worthy.

Start appreciating yourself; understand and honor your value.

Start counting your blessings; you have more things figured out than you may give yourself credit for.

Remember, just because you may lack a specific thing – a successful relationship, public speaking skills, financial Independence, etc. – doesn’t mean you are “behind”, “losing”, or “off-course” in life. 

You are not “behind” because life is not a race.

You are not “losing” because life is not a competition.

You are not “off-course” because life is not a single lane track.

We all have our unique journeys. Different journeys require different tools, reveal different pathways, and reward different treasures. In that sense, our assessment of life being unfair was correct: Life isn’t fair – but it’s not meant to be. 

Your journey is yours and nobody else’s, appreciate its uniqueness and where you are in accordance within it. Do not let the journeys of others distract you from mastering your own.

I am excited for you my friend!

Stay brave,

bravenewmatt


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Cover Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash