Is social comparison normal? Jonathan Alpert answers

Just because they have throngs of screaming fans doesn’t mean you’re any less than them.

The question
Is it normal that I constantly compare myself to others? I’m 30 years old and feel like I haven’t accomplished enough in my life. I have a decent job, an awesome boyfriend and a pretty good life all around, but I look at others and see people my age who have published books, started companies, made millions of dollars and more. 


Not only is this social comparison not normal, but it’s also unhealthy. Standards and trends are set, expectations created and hence, there’s the perpetual, exhausting quest to be like someone else. It’s all because that’s what we think we’re supposed to do. Our expectations are in part based on what we see around us. For instance, we might look toward celebrities to form a standard of how we think we should look, or the style of clothes we should wear. In your case, you see highly accomplished people and feel inferior and as though you should be doing what they do. Expectations are also formed by pressure from family. For example, Mom and Dad might pressure you to get married and have a child.

Though it is impressive to have published a book or amassed a fortune by age 30, these people don’t represent the norm and are truly outliers, and therefore do not make for a good comparison. Motives that are internally driven are far more powerful than those that come from external forces. 

Set goals based on your standards and expectations, not those of others. Focus on your own accomplishments and the “pretty good life all around” that you have. Trust me: There are countless 30-somethings who would be thrilled to have “a decent job” and “an awesome boyfriend.”

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. His book,  “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” is available now. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Broncos No. 1, Seahawks slip,…

NFL Power Rankings: Broncos No. 1, Seahawks slip, Eagles, Bills, Patriots climb. The Cardinals, Bills, Chargers and Packers are also featured in the top 10.

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

Wellbeing

Suicide study finds surprising link to sunshine

Scientists have found a link between sunlight and suicide rates — but not in the way you’d expect. As summer winds down, concern turns to…

Wellbeing

NYC's doctor-patient ratio is highest of any US…

Seeing a primary care physician is getting more difficult across the country, but new data shows just how bad the problem is — particularly in…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Beverly Hills 'Housewives' star Kyle Richards gets real…

  In the upcoming fifth season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” fans will see a more confident Kyle Richards. The actress started noticing…