October 3, 2012

Battling OCD: Obsessive Comparison Disorder

Guest post by Paul Angone

Nothing is more vital to twentysomething success than comparing yourself in every way, at every step, to everyone, both near, and far.
Family, friends, acquaintances, enemies, Seth Godin, Justin Bieber, Jon Favreau, Jon Acuff — all are fair game, all are incredible motivational tools if you just allow yourself to study them at every angle and decipher how they have done their lives much better than yours.

Pour over your friends’ Facebook profiles. Find all those at the same age who have “Director” or “Vice-President” in their title. Go through every picture of her My Life is Awesome Album. Measure how big their smiles are. Study their well behaved kids. Figure out the square footage of their newly remodeled house. Look at how nice their husband’s suit is. Find the brand. Google it. See how much it must have cost. Go buy a more expensive suit for your husband. Lease a BMW. Take a picture. Put it in your My Life is Awesome-er Album.

We used to only be able to accomplish this feat of full out, look-you-up-and-down-comparison, at our ten year reunion. But now with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube we have the opportunity to compare ourselves to everyone, every, single, day. What a blessing.

“The key to success is comparing yourself to everyone, everyday. Then let that anxiety and fear propel you to work harder, faster, and with more motivation.” ~ Guy Who Had Nervous Breakdown at 33

Once you have studied, and obsessed, and found all the ways THEIR story is so much better than YOURS — like the jockey’s whip on the winning horse, you can use all this information as a measuring stick to smack your rear end into action. And pull down your pants first so that you can really feel the sting.


Or don’t.

Don’t compare yourself to THEM.

Don’t cram YOUR plotline into someone else’s story.

You’re not them. They’re not you.

Your story doesn’t fit in theirs. I’d be like watching When Harry Met Sally and then all of the sudden Shawshank Redemption cuts in. Billy Crystal wouldn’t have worked crawling through a sewer pipe to escape from prison. Billy Crystal worked with Meg Ryan. 

If we try to cram two separate stories together, then we’ll have a fragmented life that has no idea who or what it is — a story that will ultimately bomb at the box office.

As successful author/blogger Jon Acuff recently wrote in his article We Only Need 1 Tim Ferris (Jon Acuff – someone I like to compare myself too and then proceed to not write for a month because how could I write as well as Jon Acuff),

“We’ve already got everyone else, but you. We are short one you. We need you. We need your dream, in your unique way, with your unique thumbprint.” ~ Jon Acuff


So yes, be inspired by others stories but do not let their story dwarf yours. Do not become inflicted by Obsessive Comparison Disorder – a disease that runs ramped in American culture today. A disease that tells us to buy things we shouldn’t. A disease that devours Bubonic-Plague-Style creativity, energy, and peace — three vital characteristics you are going to need to write your story really well.
So the next time you find yourself wishing your life could be theirs, lingering a little too long on their Facebook Album as you fight the fight of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, remember:

“The the grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there, and realize it’s because of all the manure.” ~ Paul Angone Original (Imagine That!)

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