Comparing myself to others really prevented my confidence from developing when I was a child and teenager. If I was not doing what other people was doing, I used to think less of myself. I would use other people lives as expectations for what I should accomplish. For example, I always wanted to be intelligent, but I never viewed myself as intelligent because I was not a gifted student. Even though I was performing above average in middle and high school, I thought I was an average student. I did not see anything special about my thought process and work ethic. If I was ever your classmate you would say that I was intelligent based on my grades and discussions but when I was younger, I did not think that I was actually smart. I always thought that I was average and got lucky, like a magician was always with me waving a wand to cause the answers to pop into my head. I never gave myself the credit for using my brain and applying information I learned. My academic success and thought process was always attributed to some random external force that only I seem to notice. I was uncomfortable with being praise because I didn’t feel like I deserved it since I got “lucky.” I always compared myself to students in gifted programs and fancy schools. Since I was not doing exactly what they were doing and had access to the opportunities that they had, I did not think of myself as intelligent.
When I got to college and the level of academic rigid increased greatly, I had an epiphany. I realized that I was not average. I did not get into college and succeed due to luck, I was accepted and succeed because I was able to put the work in and apply myself. In college, I was able to see my intelligence through the work I did and the ideas I had. The courses I took focused on critical thinking, articulating arguments, expanding perspectives, and other aspects. My friends and professors wanted to hear my perspective on topics. I used to wonder why they wanted to hear my thoughts. Over the span of a few days, I met with some of my professors during their office hours and asked them flat out, “What do you see in me and my abilities?” After they gathered their thoughts, they told me their reasons and they gave specific examples of my papers, responses in class, and discussions I had with them. My professors praised me for the way I am able to connect and synthesize information from my classes, research, and society. My professors were surprised at my thought process because they were not expecting that level from an undergraduate.
While I was home for the summer, I was looking at a trophy I earned in preschool for some random thing. I told my mom, “I was always a smart child.” She replied, “Yea, I was always proud of my Nini.” (Yes, my mom still calls me Nini even though I am in my 20s. It is one of the most comforting things to hear when I’m stressed out about being an adult and/or miss being home). Anyway, she went down memory lane and named all of my accomplishments since I was a toddler. She remembered all of the positive things my teachers said about me, my abilities, and my potential. She said things that I completely forgot. She said things that I never took notice of because I was too focused on what gifted children were achieving.
Time to Focus on You:
Learn about yourself without comparing yourself to other people. You cannot see the value in yourself when you compare yourself to others. The talents, skills, and traits that you want so bad, may already be in your possession. They may not look exactly what you want them to look like but they are there. Take time to discover them and give them time to grow. If they are not there, learn how to obtain and foster them. Comparing yourself to other people is going to cloud your judgement on how great you really are. Focusing on myself and talents caused me to accept the fact even though I’m not a genius, I am brilliant and my mind is going to take me far. When you are fully aware of your talents they will take you far.