Comparing Yourself to Others. Don’t Do It

girl typing on macbook with nice watch on wrist

Over the holidays I spent all of my time with family. At any given moment I was spending time with someone who was a blood relative of mine.  That may not seem weird at first, but spending three weeks with only people that are related to you gets to be a bit weird. You begin to lose perspective, well at least I do. I digress. Yes I have a huge family. Over half of my forty-plus cousins are working adults, so we often talk about ‘grown up’ things: work, raising families, bills, what’s next in life etc. .

One particular cousin I had not seen in over seven years. Let’s call her Sally. People change over time and those changes are duly noted by certain family members. Sometimes it’s changes in your appearance, your behavior, or interests. This cousin of mine, Sally,  is about 8 years older than me. She is a doctor and married to a doctor as well. Last time we saw each other she was getting ready to start her medical residency. There is some family drama included, but those details aren’t relevant here. Let’s just say there’s a reason that it’s been over five years since we have seen each other.

Anyways, so we were at a nail salon getting pampered and making small talk before some wedding related festivities. I had already noticed that Sally is really into name dropping designer clothes, shoes, bags etc. Earlier I asked her if she had seen my Toms shoes around the house, she replied, Tom Ford?. We are obviously in two very different tax brackets. Making small talk while waiting for our manicures to dry, Sally talked about the southern city she lives in and quality of life. She was constantly comparing it to other metropolitan cities such as New York or Boston. I asked if she was going to stay in her current city long term (due to her husband’s job they most likely will). But she continued to talk about, what seemed like, justifying her life choices to live in this large southern city as opposed to one on the East Coast. She then decided to drop how much she made on a part time MD salary (a six figure number) as well as her husband’s salary working full time as a radiologist (an even bigger six figure number, working 4 day weeks). This was a bit unnerving. I didn’t ask her how much she made. It was no secret Sally was doing well. Doctors on average make decent money, this is not news. Carrying around her Louis Vuitton purse, Tory Burch boots and mention of a $400 Vitamix blender were enough of a hint.

By the time my nails were dry, I was very put off by her sharing this information with me. I don’t care if the number is accurate or inflated but what is the necessity? I don’t think she’s a better person for it. If anything it makes her seem very money hungry. Was she trying to figure out how much I made? Was she overcompensating her lack of presence for the past seven years, by making sure I knew she was working hard? I don’t know answers to those questions but it was weird.

Of course then I internally started second guessing myself. Am I making enough? (Probably not) Can I do more? (Yes) where is my life headed? Do I talk about money like that? Do I ever sound that obnoxious to others? Am I behind in life? And on and on. I didn’t let it simmer for very long, but then again I am sitting here in an airport terminal while waiting for a flight blogging about the encounter. I have to put it all in perspective. I am doing much better than I was a year ago. I have made progress with work, paying off debt, being happier. There are areas I can certainly work on: time management, being more physically active and building my savings. But for my particular situation, I am doing okay. I could be doing better, but I am not in a bind. So right now, I am going to focus on myself and now worry about someone else’s salary and the bills they have to pay. Keeping the eye on my prize and comparing myself to myself is what I need to do. There’s a great article on medium titled “How to stop giving a F@$% what people think” that you can check out by by Sean Kim.

Have you ever had a friend or relative talk about money with you, leaving you feel inadequate or insecure? How do you deal with these feelings? When is it alright to see how you measure up to others?

The following two tabs change content below.



Sofia is in her twenties living in the Columbus area. She enjoys travel, her pets, interacting on social media and smoothies. Being financially independent is a goal she strives for and this blog is a way to document that progress. You can find her on twitter at @slofia.
Starting Debt: -$25,684
Current Debt: -$10,266

Latest posts by Sofia (see all)

Posted on Thoughts By Sofia Sofia in Holiday, Money, Personal, Work 10 Comments

About the author


Sofia is in her twenties living in the Columbus area. She enjoys travel, her pets, interacting on social media and smoothies. Being financially independent is a goal she strives for and this blog is a way to document that progress. You can find her on twitter at @slofia. Starting Debt: -$25,684 Current Debt: -$10,266

10 Responses to Comparing Yourself to Others. Don’t Do It

  1. Travis @debtchronicles

    I saw that same article you referenced, and loved it. Life is SO much easier, AND enjoyable when we simply concentrate on improving ourselves and not spend our time and energy on caring what others think!

    • Sofia

      Thanks for reading Travis. Your comments always make me smile. :)

  2. Amanda

    An ex of mine used to make 4 times the amount of money that I did, despite the fact we worked the same number of hours. To be fair, his line of work was much more intense than mine, but I had more education and training than him, and therefore I always felt inferior. He always had fun money, I never did. I had to take on a second job just to pay my bills, and he was taking month long trips over seas. I definitely fell into the trap of comparing myself to him. I eventually did things to better my own position, which helped stop the jealousy/comparing.

    • Sofia

      Wow. That’s a huge difference, no matter how much you make. I would think the money disparity would be hard early on in a relationship. when you might not view yourselves as a team. Matlock and I still have some of those issues. I make more than her, but she has is more educated than me. She is really happy at her workplace, whereas I could be more challenged, so there are things we can both work on. Working on yourself really does help. Thanks for commenting- love your site!

  3. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

    Ugh. I feel that way a lot at family functions. My extended family is also huge and all our aunts and uncles are immigrants. They all instilled very strong work ethics in all of us. I work really hard too, but I don’t make a lot. All of my cousins are engineers, accountants, doctors, etc. A few girls are teachers, but they all have big families. I’m the only one out of my own, working in a theater.

    I figure at the end of the day we just both think the other is weird, because their lives look sort of dull to me.

    • Sofia

      My family is very traditional. Most of my female cousins are married, have children and don’t work (only a handful work and in that case they are doctors). All of nothing I guess. No one is even close to what I would call a creative. My family wasn’t super supportive about blogging in the beginning, so I just don’t tell them about this site at all. I don’t need that negative energy.

  4. Athena

    I have a really hard time not comparing myself to other people, bloggers especially. My childhood was pretty rocky after my mom died and I powered through school but let myself slide back a bit. I’ve come a long way and know that personally, I am doing the best I’ve ever done for myself but I always think I could be doing more, earning more, etc. It’s hard but for the most part, I just try to compete with myself.

    • Sofia

      Thanks for the RT! Really? bloggers? I think the people that don’t have ‘cookie cutter’ backgrounds or childhoods are the most interesting. At least you can say that most everything you have you got on your own, which I think is awesome. Competing with yourself is okay. Just trying to the best version of yourself, right? Can’t wait to read about your Boston travels. Hope it wasn’t too cold!

  5. Erin @ Gen Y Finances

    I compare myself to other bloggers sometimes. You know, people my age who are out of debt, with rocking incomes, and fat retirement funds already. But then, I remind myself that I’m very happy in this life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything :)

  6. Leonard @ The Wallet Doctor

    Its really easy to feel insecure around people who brag about the money they are making. The redeeming news is that not everything worthwhile is wrapped up in money. Sure they may be making a bit more, but they may not be having a better quality experience in life. I think the secret here is to keep things in perspective and to be content with what you’ve been able to do thus far.


Add a Comment