There have been times when I have felt devalued, sometimes even in front of others, by someone I considered a friend. I learned long ago that people’s insecurities can result in the form of feeling the need to “one-up” or diminish others, however, I really “got it” more recently. I noticed these toxic tendencies started to creep into our friendship in small subtle ways. As I recognized this was happening, I remembered this was not about me and started to intentionally distance myself. They weren’t comfortable with themselves or their life, therefore they subconsciously felt the need to compare their achievements to mine for validation. This made it hard to have genuine conversations since it felt like there had to be a rebuttal for everything said, rather than just talking to share our feelings.
When you live life trying to one-up others to make yourself look good, your relationships with others and yourself become strained. Everyone is different, and attempting to live your life to line up with someone else’s is extremely draining. I’ve learned that you can’t love others, and expect others to love you if you don’t even love yourself first. I notice many of my peers, both guys and girls, frequently joke about how they hate their body, or how stupid they think they are. The constant “joking” secretly reveals their deep-rooted insecurities and is worrisome to hear, especially to those close to them. Yet the ones who will actively deplete themselves, are often the ones who will brag about something the next minute. It’s a “zero to one hundred real quick” mentality. Maybe if we focused on our own lives and realized the successes of our peers do not diminish our own, we would focus more on the good and learn to love ourselves more.
It’s such a freeing feeling when you stop letting your preconceived judgment of others prevent you from living your life. It seems elementary school is the last time when many allow themselves to be fully self-expressed. Once middle school hits and students become more self-aware, it seems the obsession over how others perceive you just continues to intensify over time. It wasn’t until I switched to a smaller high school and was surrounded by people who were fully self-expressed when I realized I would enjoy life so much more if I stopped fretting about how I come off to those around me. At the end of the day, most people aren’t going to bed criticizing you, they’re too engrossed in critiquing their own lives. Once I started embracing who I am rather than beating myself up over trivial events, I began to grow and love myself more. Of course being self-aware is important, but when constructive reflection turns destructive, that’s when you have to redirect your focus.